I've been here in Merced for two years, and had yet to try Mel's Cafe and Ice Cream, in the same shopping center as Raley's, even though I've passed it many times...
Really, I had no excuse: in Merced, ice cream places (as distinguished from frozen yogurt shops, which are much more common) in this town are limited. I know of Mel's and a few unmentionable chains (Coldstone. enough said) and that's it.
You can get Straus vanilla at Raley's, but sometimes one gets tired of vanilla. Indeed, for a while, they had stopped carrying even that, though it showed up again after I complained. Sometimes I think they stock it just for me.
So, was craving ice cream Friday, and it was time to try Mel's. They also serve boba drinks, halo halo (may have to try that soon), fast food asian choices, sandwiches, and have free wifi. There are perhaps four tables inside the no-frills shop and a few tables outside with a view of the Raley's parking lot.
Perhaps fifteen or twenty flavors of ice cream, three sizes of servings available. The small is small, but it is only $1.50. I appreciate that option.
I was very pleased to see they had macapuno, and of course I had to try it. On my first bite, I was transported back to San Francisco and Mitchell's, and even wondered for a moment if Mitchell's was their supplier, but no, this was creamier, and had big chunks of macapuno, bigger that I remember from my old neighborhood spot.
I asked the friendly server, an older woman who I think may also be a co-owner, where the ice cream was made, and her answer implied that at least some of the flavors are made in house (though I doubt that is actually the case); she said, 'oh, that's a special order, we get it from San Jose'. Hmm...could it be Marianne's (which I think is actually based in Santa Cruz)?
Hubby's pistachio was fine but nothing special, but I'll go back for the macapuno. Don't know what took me so long.
but then, as long as I am trying new places, I hear rumors of a paleta place in South Merced. Actually have tried to find it twice with no luck, and the coworker who tipped me off knows it only by location, not name. Obviously, it wasn't a hot summer and I haven't searched hard enough...