It’s impossible to run a dessert series in Tucson without including fried ice cream, flan, and sopapilla.
Among the many Mexican restaurants who serve these classic Baja Arizona desserts is Little Mexico.
Located in south Tucson, Little Mexico and sister business Little Mexico Steakhouse have a wide variety of rotating desserts.
“We change the dessert menu based on what guests like the best,” Brenda Jaimez, assistant manager, says. “Our entree servings are pretty huge, but we still add to the dessert menu.”
Jaimez also notes that keeping tradition is important to them. The owners change the dessert menus based on the traditions they see in the different areas of the two restaurants.
One of the most traditional desserts is the Sopapilla, which is said to have originated over 200 years ago.
If you’ve never tried a sopapilla before, they can be similar to Indian fry bread or funnel cake. They’re deep-fried, crispy, and delicious. They’re often served with honey, powdered sugar, or ice cream.
When they’re not eaten as a dessert, sopapillas can also be savory, sometimes filled with meat, cheese, peppers, or beans.
Another traditional dessert served at Little Mexico is the Flan.
Flan dates back to centuries ago. Although many cultures created their own versions of flan, it seems that the Spanish took the biggest attachment to it. It wasn’t long before the Spanish introduced the dessert to Mexico.
Similar to sopapilla, flan was originally created as a savory dish rather than a dessert. However, the flan at Little Mexico is a sweet custard with caramelized sugar, made with sweet cream and whipped eggs.
At Little Mexico, flan is typically made weekly, while all other desserts are made daily.
Another take on a savory-dish-turned-sweet is the Fruit Chimis.
You might be used to beef or chicken in your chimichanga, but these mini dessert chimichangas are a game-changer.
The fruit chimis are stuffed with apple, peach, or cherry filling. The fruits are wrapped in a tortilla, deep-fried, and dipped in cinnamon sugar. Even better, they’re served with dulce de leche ice cream.
“They taste just like pie,” Jaimez says. And she certainly isn’t wrong about that.
Following tradition, Little Mexico serves Capirotada for a little over a month each year.
Capirotada is a Mexican bread pudding typically served during Lent and Good Friday.
There are many ways to recreate the dish, but the capirotada served at Little Mexico includes raisins, walnuts, cheese, cinnamon, and piloncillo — a type of Mexican sugar made from cane sugar and cane juice.
Jaimez says other recipes include dried fruit, such as bananas and apples.
“My mom used to make capirotada every year,” Jaimez says. “It’s my favorite dessert because you only get it during Lent.”
In addition to these desserts, Little Mexico also serves bananas foster, fudge brownies, and fried ice cream: dulce de leche ice cream with a cinnamon swirl that’s coated with corn flakes and deep-fried.
Little Mexico Restaurant
698 W. Irvington Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85714
Little Mexico Steakhouse
2851 W. Valencia Rd.
Tucson, AZ 85746
Dessert in the Desert is a new series highlighting desserts in Tucson. The main courses at restaurants get all the rage, as they should, but what about desserts? They deserve a spotlight, too.