You can drive past Margarita’s only so many times before curiosity gets the best of you. The bright pink door beckons. Open it, and discover a tiny sweet shop that sings “celebration” from ceiling to floor. Stuffed into every corner, treasures like roasted pepitas and crystallized fruit await. Although the bakery specializes in elaborately decorated birthday and quinceañera cakes, a spontaneous pop-in rewards curious passersby with a mouth-watering selection of treats as well.
Beauties like red velvet cake balls will catch your eye, and slices of checkerboard cake will beg to be brought home. Don’t be fooled. Like when you bring home a puppy from the pound, your best bet is to adopt the less needy contender. On the top shelf of the showcase, the Mexican rice pudding (arroz con leche) bides its time, removed and aloof. Take it home with you — or not — the arroz con leche doesn’t need you. It may not be brightly colored or adorned with sprinkles, but you need some of this in your life. Any horchata fan will instantly recognize a similar cinnamon-laced creaminess that is rich and satisfying.
You might as well bring home another traditional Mexican treat to keep your new friend company. Margarita’s tres leches cake is a real standout. The bottom layer has the characteristic moistness one expects of tres leches, while the top layer stays firm and spongy. In between, a layering of pineapple adds a flavor and texture that sets it apart from the tres leches you might expect to find at a restaurant. Make haste — there may still be time to enjoy the purple-flowered patio before winter decides not to budge.
Margarita's Pasteleria, 13910 Josey Lane, www.pasteleriamargarita.com