PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nico Vergara was raised in Portland and graduated from Grant High School. But his ice cream shop serves New Zealand style ice cream that mixes flavors from the Pacific Northwest with the South Pacific.
Nico’s Ice Cream began as a cart and then extended to a place at 5713 NE Fremont last November — about a mile-and-a-half from Grant High.
“This, Northeast Portland, especially here on 57th, is home to me,” Vegara told KOIN 6 News.
But his ice cream style comes from New Zealand, where it originated in the late 1970s.
“It’s their style of ice cream,” he said. “It’s this machine that I imported that makes it New Zealand-style,” he said.
The machine swiftly swirls vanilla ice cream with locally-sourced fruit.
“I try to do everything as Pacific Northwest as possible from the artists who painted my mural to the product itself,” Vergara said. “And so all of our fruit is actually from the Willamette Valley.”
Customers can even get a taste of Nico’s culture through 2 of his toppings — Chamoy and Tajin.
“Chamoy is like a tamarind sauce, so it’s like a red sauce. You’ll see it on a lot of Mexican candies. It’s spicy and somewhat sour but it has the consistency, almost has like a caramel sauce,” he said. “And then Tajin, again it’s like red pepper for lakes almost mixed with salt, and it has a little bit of a lime flavor.”
Returning customers like Frances McHugh, Milla Hill and Remington Mayes all love the ice cream and the shop.
“The thing that I love is that they make it with fresh ingredients and their ice cream is made right in front of you. And it’s amazing,” McHugh said. “I got the raspberry with Graham cracker and it is so good. I love it.”
“It’s really nice, Hill said. “I just love how it’s decorated and I love the name.”
Mayes got the blueberry and said, “It’s the best. … It’s one of my favorite ice cream places.”
McHugh has been a fan of Nico’s for a while. “I mean, as soon as I heard that he made an ice cream shop, I was, like, oh my God, I need to try this place.”
The flavors and treats are served from a guy who is hoping to succeed in the neighborhood where he grew up.