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Danny’s Ice Cream pairs authentic Mexican tacos and homemade ice cream

Banana-split fun — Is it a banana split, or a taco? Foodie Files are a favorite part of writer Ryan Rougeux’s week; here he has fun with a triple-flavored banana-split sundae at Danny’s Ice Cream in DeLeon Springs. He did actually eat it with utensils.

Banana-split fun — Is it a banana split, or a taco? Foodie Files are a favorite part of writer Ryan Rougeux’s week; here he has fun with a triple-flavored banana-split sundae at Danny’s Ice Cream in DeLeon Springs. He did actually eat it with utensils.

BEACON PHOTO/NATE FLYNN

That's the spot — The front of Danny's Ice Cream in DeLeon Springs invites customers in for sweet treats and authentic Mexican cuisine.

That's the spot — The front of Danny's Ice Cream in DeLeon Springs invites customers in for sweet treats and authentic Mexican cuisine.

BEACON PHOTO/RYAN ROUGEUX

La familia — The Danny's Ice Cream family takes a moment to chat with Beacon writer Ryan Rougeux. Pictured are owner and father Jose Luis Estrada, sister Leslie Jeanet Estrada, mother Josefina Mesa Estrada, and son and manager Luis Daniel “Danny” Estrada. 

La familia — The Danny's Ice Cream family takes a moment to chat with Beacon writer Ryan Rougeux. Pictured are owner and father Jose Luis Estrada, sister Leslie Jeanet Estrada, mother Josefina Mesa Estrada, and son and manager Luis Daniel “Danny” Estrada. 

BEACON PHOTO/NATE FLYNN

Can't get enough tacos — Before eating our taco extravaganza at Danny's Ice Cream, we wanted to take a picture for the taco lovers of the world, including the two hot sauces Danny’s offers for extra flavor and heat. I chose the rojo (red).  

Can't get enough tacos — Before eating our taco extravaganza at Danny's Ice Cream, we wanted to take a picture for the taco lovers of the world, including the two hot sauces Danny’s offers for extra flavor and heat. I chose the rojo (red).  

BEACON PHOTO/RYAN ROUGEUX

At 4824 U.S. Highway 17 in the small community of DeLeon Springs, the traveler finds a shop offering authentic Mexican tacos and homemade ice cream that has been a favorite of locals and visitors alike since it opened in August 2001.  

After a relaxing day of swimming and sunning at the historic landmark DeLeon Springs State Park, it is common for springs guests to flock to Danny’s Ice Cream for refreshing ice cream and paletas (popsicles).  

Some time after opening, the restaurant added authentic Mexican tacos and other Mexican cuisine, which became a huge hit.

I pulled up to the small shop with the sun going down and the air starting to reach a brisk fall cool. An “open” light flashed underneath the Danny’s Ice Cream “Paleteria - y - Taqueria” sign, near smiling popsicles painted on the window.  

Inside, the sounds were the chatter of families enjoying dinner and dessert in the 18-seat dining room, and sizzling from the cocina (kitchen), accompanied by the pleasant smell of beef and seasonings cooking.

I was immediately greeted at the counter by the manager, Luis Daniel Estrada, the son who is the restaurant’s namesake.

“That’s my full name, but everyone around town just calls me Danny,” Luis Estrada said with a smile. He’s one of 12 employees.

Owner Jose Luis Estrada, Danny’s father, was born in the Mexican town of Ixtapan De La Sal, while Danny’s mother, Josefina Mesa Estrada, was born in Jalisco, Mexico. Danny was born in Orlando, while his sister Leslie was born in DeLand. The family now lives in DeLeon Springs.

Danny’s Ice Cream offers authentic tacos and ice cream like you might get in Mexico.

The menu board offers so many options: 16 homemade ice-cream flavors, and 19 flavors of paletas, including some out-of-the-ordinary flavors that are staples in Mexico.  

Notable flavors include piñon (pine nut) and maize (corn), which actually has corn kernels mixed in with the sweet, strangely delicious ice cream.

At Danny’s Ice Cream, you order at the counter. The only way for me to get the full cultural experience was to try each of the nine tacos available.

This included some options we don’t see on everyday menus, such as lengua (cow tongue), tripa (beef intestine), and chicharron (pork rinds). 

I enjoyed them all, and can cross a couple of flavors off my bucket list that I probably won’t try again.  

I also devoured their more-familiar beef, chicken, cabeza (pork head), chorizo, and pork tacos. The flavors and authenticity are a reason to visit.  

In addition to tacos, Danny’s Ice Cream offers tortas (a Mexican pressed sandwich), burritos, quesadillas and menudo (a traditional Mexican soup made with beef stomach).

One of my guests recommended I try a delicious house-made agua-fresca-style drink called horchata. This incorporates cinnamon, milk and vanilla, and reminded me of a favorite childhood cereal, Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  

Lastly, I needed to try the ice cream. When you order a banana split, you get to choose up to three flavors. I chose cacahuete (peanut butter), piñon (pine nuts), and nuez (butter pecan). All this was topped with whipped cream, nuts, sprinkles, chocolate syrup and cherries.  

I really enjoyed the homemade flavors, and the banana split didn’t last very long.

Danny’s Ice Cream rewards achievements by the youngsters attending McInnis Elementary School in DeLeon Springs by giving one free paleta to students who receive a good grade on certain tests. 

The experience at Danny’s Ice Cream was fun, and learning about the Mexican culture and flavors was enjoyable, as well. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who enjoys great authentic Mexican food and flavors, and homemade ice cream.

In other words, to anybody who wants a taste of Mexico.  

- Ryan Rougeux, info@beacononlinenews.com


DANNY'S ICE CREAM

Location: 4824 U.S. Highway 17, DeLeon Springs

Cuisine: Authentic Mexican and ice cream

Hours: 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m. seven days a week

Beverages: Homemade aguas frescas in eight flavors; no alcohol

Price range: $1-$10

Kid-friendly: Yes

Pet-friendly: Service animals only

Limited diets: Vegetarian options available

Our bill for nine tacos, one large drink and one banana split: $25 plus $5 tip

Contact: 386-985-2800

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