Paletaz PDX owners Silvia and Veronica Cuestas and Yesenia Gallardo at their August 10 open house.
Paletaz PDX owners Silvia and Veronica Cuestas and Yesenia Gallardo at their August 10 open house. Chad Walsh

If you recognize the name Yesenia Gallardo, it’s probably because you heard that her food company, Poda Foods, won top prize at 2016’s PitchFest with their plan for making a nutritional cricket powder to be used in protein bars, chips, crackers and cookies.

The Northwest Community Food System Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm says Poda Foods never took flight for a number of reasons—but the main one, she admits, was she and her team simply weren’t very good at raising crickets. They seemed to die before reaching maturation.

But Gallardo has an entrepreneurial spirit, and this summer she decided to dip into her Los Angeles-based childhood for a treat she’s certain consumers would love: paletas.

“Growing up in LA, you used to see street vendors hustling paletas,” she says. And while Portland never got the cricket bug like she’d hoped, she thinks we’ll like paletas. “I think Portland’s a good market for them.”

If you’ve never had a paleta, it’s basically a Mexican popsicles, but far, far superior.

Gallardo’s paletas have the consistency of fudgsicles, and come in flavors like kiwi, strawberry, mango-chile, and one very sublime coconut, and are made from fruits that grocers can’t sell—perhaps malformed or bruised—but are otherwise perfect.

For the last month, Gallardo and her aunts, Silvia and Veronica Cuesta, have been making paletas at The Redd and operating the Paletaz PDX pop-up push cart on the corner of SE Division at 30th Avenue.

If you’re in the neighborhood, you should drop by and try one—they’re only $3.50 each.

Gallardo says the pop-up push cart will operate until September. Once they wheel the cart home, she and her aunts will brainstorm ways to produce novelty-sized paletas to be sold in supermarkets like New Seasons.

Unless it rains, Paletaz PDX operates every Friday-Sunday, 3pm-7 pm, SE Division and 30th.