The only request I had for my LA pal Jay Terauchi was to take me to a few good bakeries.
So he took me to three.
One was a dessert boutique that had opened a month earlier, the other a Taiwanese cafe that specialized in bread.
But the last one was an established bakery with three locations in the Los Angeles area and a loyal following. It was called Porto’s Bakery & Cafe.
And maybe that’s the recipe for a great bakery.
Here’s the story about Porto’s: Back in Cuba, Rosa Porta lost her job as a home economics teacher and began selling cakes from home to pay the bills. When the family moved to California, she continued to sell her home-baked cakes. It got so popular — there would be 15 to 20 cars a day driving up to the house to pick up cakes — she decided to open a tiny brick-and-mortar shop (just 300 square feet) in the Silverlake area in 1960.
Two generations later, the bakery has grown to three locations with a 52,000-square-foot production and distribution center in Commerce and hundreds of employees.
Rosa’s son, Raul Porto Jr., runs the bakery, which now features Cuban-style sandwiches, potato balls, meat pies, fruit tarts and other baked delights.
And the price — well, you can’t beat it. Chocolate croissants are $1.60 each. A French baguette is $1.65. The apple strudel was 90 cents. And the meat pies are just 78 cents each.
It’s no wonder people were walking out with boxes and boxes of goodies. Not only are the baked goods tasty — I could have eaten six of those meat pies! — but they’re affordable.
We ordered a bunch of different things, including the meat pie (shown above). I love the flaky crust and the savory filling with just enough to create a nice balance between the puff pastry and the meat inside. We also tried the chorizo pie (90 cents), which was a bit dry for me.
The chocolate eclair (above) was just $1.60 each and the bakery didn’t skimp on the custard filling at all. There was really nothing wrong with this eclair except that I didn’t get a second one.
But really the star of our afternoon was this mini tres leche cake (above). Just $1.95, this traditional “three milks bread” was everything it’s supposed to be: a buttery cake soaked in three kinds of milks (evaporated, condensed and heavy cream), so light and soggy and perfect.
I was full earlier — until I ate this. Suddenly, I was hungry again.
Porto’s Bakery & Cafe in Burbank, 3614 W. Magnolia Blvd. Hours: 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Phone: (818) 846-9100.