Good to Go is a column in which our food writers explore Dallas' restaurant scene through takeout orders, delivery boxes and reheated leftovers.
First, Kelly Ball wowed us with baked goods at farmers markets, then we heard she would open up her own brick-and-mortar.
Ball had just gotten the dining room of Leila Bakery and Cafe running, then the pandemic swept over Dallas.
“I think, as a bakery, we’ve been fortunate we haven’t faced some of the troubles of the fine dining institutions. With our farmers market experience, we were largely to-go anyway, so transitioning the shop to a to-go format to meet the needs of the pandemic has not been too much of a challenge,” Ball says. “I was excited to have a dining room with our store, so it did mean closing the cafe just a month after we opened.”
Now, that space where she envisioned diners sitting down, maybe drinking coffee and enjoying something sweet with friends, is an open room with a long table on it. While that, hopefully, one day could be used for a communal table, right now it's packed with items you can grab quickly on the go. Fresh loaves of bread can easily up your sandwich game at home, so go ahead and grab one on the way to the glass case of baked goods.
Sweets fill that case. Try a slice of pie to go, but don’t skip out on the savory klobasnek (which they label as “kolache” on their chalkboard menu).
Each one is $4 and there are plenty of options. You can get one with eggs, sweet peppers and onions, or a wheat one with apple, havarti and pomegranate jelly. The first one on the list — sausage, cheddar and candied jalapeños — is a must-order, though. There’s just a subtle heat in those sweet peppers, not-too-much melting cheese (order this heated, of course) and a snappy sausage inside.
Philip Kingston, ex-Dallas City Council member and Observer contributor strongly suggests the quiche: That is, any kind of quiche they have. A slice ($7) is why I’ll return soon, either for the Florentine (spinach and onions) or the Lorraine (bacon and Swiss). Though since I love goat cheese, I’ll probably opt for that cheese and mushroom in a quiche.
More recommendations: Melissa Kingston says the doughnuts (Saturday only) are "amazing," as are the lemon and apple scones, and the cinnamon twist. Even restaurateur Mark Wootton says he used to get pies for Garden Cafe, especially the apple crumble.
That's enough for a reason to visit multiple times, but there’s more to come as the temperature gets cooler.
“Fall is always exciting for bakers,” Ball says. “We brought back pecan pie and apple pie. We’re doing a roasted pear kouign-amann.”
Leila is sticking to takeout for now, though there is one little table out front if you want to have breakfast outside. The bakery offers delivery for $5 — order by Monday, and the goods are dropped off between noon and 4 p.m. Wednesday.
With this weather, though, you might as well hit a Dallas park, and Leila is close enough to White Rock Lake that you can settle into the grass before your coffee even thinks about getting cold. Plus, that coffee's made with beans from Novel Coffee Roasters, so you're getting local coffee that's wonderfully balanced.
Right now when you check out, there are registration forms to vote. So if you grab something here by Monday, Oct. 5, this stop can mean hitting two birds with one stone.
“It’s a challenging time for our country right now. I’m trying to help people get registered to vote in an easy way,” Ball says.
Even if you’re registered, or you visit after Monday, stopping by can satisfy your hunger and keep another local spot afloat.
“We’re grateful,” Ball says. “This has been our first year opening, and it’s been a challenging one. We’re grateful for all the customers.”
Leila Bakery and Cafe, 6041 Oram St. (East Dallas). 972-807-6297. Open for takeout 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.