The richness of the Latino food scene in Los Angeles is no secret. And perhaps no institution epitomizes this cultural hallmark more than the humble, neighborhood panaderia.
From signature pan dulce, tamales and churros to the ubiquitous conchas (shells) along with elotes, chilindrinas, and empanadas made from family recipes, L.A.’s Latino bakery landscape is as dense as the city is sprawling.
Not that this is a bad thing.
If you’re new to the delectable delights of L.A.’s panaderias consider this list a starting point for some tasty adventures.
And hey, even if your Spanish isn’t so muy bien, don’t be discouraged. Just let your taste buds show you the way.
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1. La Monarca (Throughout LA)
La Monarca has eight locations serving up a variety of pan dulces made fresh and in true L.A. fashion. The coffee is organic and nothing is baked off-site. Their use of ingredients like guava, agave nectar, and coconut means their menu is filled with traditional items plus some with a little twist.
Must try: Cafe Oaxaca, tres leches cake, and horchata cake.
2. Grand Casino Bakery (Culver City)
Facturas are to Argentine bakeries what pan dulce is to Mexican bakeries and the array of sweet and savory baked goods is enough to keep you full and happy even though they’re also a restaurant. Facturas (pastries) are usually covered in sugar, dulce de leche, or custard and here you’ll find a delightful dulce de leche donut, tres leches cake, and chaja (meringue peach cake).
Must try: alfajores, empanadas, apple tart.
3. La Favorita Bakery (Boyle Heights)
They’re the self-proclaimed home of the first “mini-concha” and bolillo and they consider themselves “the favorite” but they back up their bravado with some truly delicious conchas plus they also carry Argentine baked goods so you can also get a taste of alfajores and media lunas (croissants).
Must try: all the conchas and conchitas.
4. La Espiga Bakery (Echo Park)
When the house specialty is tres leches you know you’re in the right place. You’ll find tres leches cakes at most panaderias but there is nothing quite as succulent and moist as a fresh and well-done tres leches cake. They’ve also got fresh tamales, conchas, and chocolate donuts.
Must try: flan, tres leches.
5. Antequera Bakery (Santa Monica)
Antequerra Bakery is a small family-run Oaxacan bakery with conchas, regañadas and more. You have to order the rebanadas, their freshly baked sliced bolillos slathered in butter and sugar.
Must try: rebanadas (just in case that wasn’t clear!).
6. Sonora Bakery (East LA)
It’s TINY but you don’t need a lot of time to sit and devour their baked goods. Their menu includes savory and sweet empanadas and they’re also known for their custom cakes.
Must try: the alfajor (short bread cookie with caramel and coconut shavings) and the bolillo (baguette).
7. Panaderia San Fernando (San Fernando)
It’s a hole in the wall in the Valley with big flavors and a devoted local following. Don’t be fooled by the unassuming exterior typical of Valley strip malls, the freshly baked treats are not to be missed.
Must try: cookies and conchas.
8. La Mascota (Boyle Heights)
This East LA staple has been around since 1952 and recently came under new ownership that remodeled the place but didn’t remove its signature charm or menu. Expect long lines but it’s worth it in the end.
Must try: tamales and conchas
9. Panaderia La Fama (East LA)
It’s one of the oldest panaderias in East L.A. and in addition to pan dulces they offer sweet empanadas, adorable piggy bread (it’s just what you imagine), and fresh tamales.
Must try: conchas, chilindrinas, guava empanada.
10. El Gallo Bakery (East LA)
The family-owned business opened its doors in 1949 continuing a tradition that started in Guadalajara. They offer quite an assortment of baked goods from conchas to galletas to my personal favorite, orejas. Heads up it’s cash only.
Must try: buttered cuernitos and payasos.
11. Panaderia Cuscatleca (Pico Union)
So they’ve got an Oreo cake but now that I have your attention let’s talk about their Salvadorean delicacies specifically the “Quesadilla Salvadorena.” Think of it as a marriage between a cheesecake and a pound cake. Got it? Ok now open up Google maps to get to La Espiga asap.
Must try: Quesdadilla Salvadorena.
12. Panaderia Delicia (Highland Park)
They’ve got it all – specialty cakes, pan dulces, cookies, tamales and it’s made Salvadorean style.
Must try: tamales and bolillos.
Did we miss your favorite local L.A. panaderia? Hit us up with tips and your picks for the best in the comments below!