It was wonderful news when Village Baking Co. opened its doors on University Boulevard. After all, it’s not like we have a ton of bakery-only establishments around. At least, that's what plenty of people in Dallas like to complain about, and they have a point: Visit San Francisco and compare the bakery-per-capita ratio and you'll feel we're being served an unfair injustice of sweet carbohydrates.
But if you take a closer look, you'll realize we have good bakeries all over the place. They might not have identical madeleines or pastel macarons, but they have excellent sweet breads with authentic flavor and cheap prices.
Odds are, you have a panaderia not too far from where you're reading this. A Mexican bakery isn't only a storefront to find a different kind of dessert, savory bread or cake; it's a whole new experience. At least, it’s different for those of us who didn’t grow up going to one.
You serve yourself. Most have round metal trays and big tongs you use to pull each sweet out of the case. Don't get just three items. You'll be the only one with a tray that isn't full, and you might get a strange look from the person behind the register. For most, you'll need cash. And for all, it's a good idea to have some Spanish in your vocab.
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Change up your Starbucks coffee and chocolate croissant routine; grab a warm concha. Stop by any of these for a savory bread to go with your dinner. Swap your Toulouse chocolate-chip cookies for some fresh galletas of bright colors. Better yet, fill up a big metal tray with a variety for your next party. It'll be fresher, more colorful and cheaper than your guests' usual array. An average cupcake in this city will cost you about $3.25. All the pastries in each of these photos range from $2 to $4.
3701 W. Northwest Highway, Suite 186
If you’re anywhere around Bachman Lake on your morning drive to work, stop by Abuelita Panaderia. The selection is what you want, the people working there are kind, and the jelly roll cake is worth the indulgence. All of the galletas here are great, especially the small cinnamon ones — those crumbling, flavorful cookies are the best part of a good panaderia.
Aztec Mexican Bakery
11555 Ferguson Road, Suite 500
Lots of galletas here. The yoyo de fresa (sweet roll) here is pretty excellent: These always seem like they’re too big for one person, but you won't have a problem wanting the whole thing. Bonus for this location: There’s usually a woman at a little cart on the end of this strip selling some damn good elotes.
5507 Lindsley Ave.
Don’t feel badly if you’re circling this block in Old East Dallas before you see that this storefront is just set back off the road. This is one of the few that does accept credit cards, and they do serve you from behind the display case. While the experience is different from others, the baked goods are good enough. The yoyo de fresa here is also excellent, with a whipped sweet cream on the outside of the sweet roll. The special-order cakes look great, too.
Panaderia El Artesano
525 E. Jefferson Blvd.
This is a great little place in Oak Cliff with a friendly face behind the counter. You can find plenty of cinnamon in baked goods, but the marranitos (“gingerbread pig”) is surprisingly great, as is the sweet cinnamon bread: With the latter, you’ll just think you’re eating an excellent sweet bread shaped like a crescent, until you're surprised by a beautiful raspberry filling.
Panaderia El Sol
1411 N. Belt Line Road, Irving
Say you’ve adjusted to the experience of a panaderia. You scope out where the tongs are before the sweets, you go about pulling your breads, and you walk up to the counter saying, “Es todo.” Well, this place might still be overwhelming. You go through this process, except the place is huge compared with the rest. And busy. At the very least, this means there are fresh, hot breads coming out on cookie sheets throughout the day. The selection is large with plenty to choose from. While the appearance is shinier, the prices for pan dulces are still just as reasonable.
Panaderia La Union
10618 Ferguson Road
Walk through the door of this small place, and you might not be wowed by the display case. Compared with some others on this list, it's on the smaller side. And, the staff might not be the friendliest. But they’ll help you with your order, and your 60 cents couldn't be better spent than on the warm concha you'll get here. You won't get a bland bread with harshly sweet icing like you can at others. Instead, you'll get a perfectly balanced, sweet bread with a delicate frosting. Other items here are good, too. But you won't want to share that concha.
1821 Crestridge Drive, Mesquite
So there are bars on the glass windows and doors. And it smells like stale gorditas when you walk in. But the pan dulces in here are better than you might think. Try a fruit-filled empanada.
Know a panaderia that’s not on this list and worth a visit? Let us know in the comments.