I've always heard great things about Porto's Bakery, a Cuban style, family owned Los Angeles institution famous for classic Cuban pastries and sandwiches. What once started out as a small, one-woman show has developed into a massive business, in terms of both size and success, with three large stores in Glendale, Downey, and Burbank. Unlike the more subdued flavors of less sweet Japanese and French pastries, Cuban desserts are known for their intense sweetness. Having never really experienced the tastes of a Latin style treats, I decided the best place to start would be at a highly renowned, tried and true bakery, so I made my way over to Porto's in Glendale.
Because of Porto's immense following, they get very busy, especially during lunch time due to their selection of popular Cuban sandwiches. I did some online research, made a list of their most popular treats, and tried to make it before the lunchtime rush.
My box of treats filled with a cinnamon sugar brioche roll, masareal guava pastry, guava strudel, cheese roll, and raspberry and dulce de leche filled butter cookie kisses.
Two of my favorite baked goods are brioche bread and cinnamon rolls, so how could I not love the combination of both? Buttery brioche rolled with cinnamon and topped with sugary icing, after one bite I couldn't put it down, eating the entire thing for a sweet and decadent brunch.
Masareal: A layer of sweet guava filling sandwiched between cinnamon and honey soaked cake. This was a perfect example of the extreme sweetness typical of Cuban desserts. I felt a toothache coming after one tiny taste.
Cheese Roll and Guava Pastry. Two of Porto's most popular offerings.
Guava Strudel: Buttery puff pastry filled with sweet guava. I liked the flakiness of the puff pastry over the denser, sugar soaked cake of the masareal. My only complaint is that there could have been a little more filling.
Cheese Roll: Porto's sweet, cream cheese filled croissants were one of the most recommended pastries. I'm usually not the biggest fan of cream cheese, but I knew I had to try it at least once, and liked them much more than I expected. Like the guava strudel, I wished there was slightly more filling.
Raspberry and Dulce de Leche filled butter cookie "kisses". They had a crumbly, melt in your mouth texture and a generous amount of filling. Both were tasty, but I preferred the raspberry.
Napoleon Dulce de Leche cake: Admiring Porto's case of beautiful cakes, I felt I just had to try one. A Cuban classic, of course I decided on dulce de leche. This Napoleon (layer) cake consisted of crisp layers of puff pastry with rich, dulce de leche custard and fresh whipped cream, topped with dulce de leche and dark chocolate. It was ultra decadent, with a strong taste of the sweet, milky, caramel flavor of dulce de leche. Their other cakes looked equally delicious, but I was very satisfied with my choice, happily devouring it after dinner.
Without a doubt, Porto's most famous menu item is their Potato Ball. I couldn't try them (vegetarian, in case anyone forgot), but there was no way I was leaving without any, so I bought two for my family to eat. These little balls of creamy mashed potatoes filled with seasoned ground beef and peppers, and fried to a golden perfection were a hit, which isn't surprising given the fact all of Los Angeles seems to be addicted to them.
Now that I've mentioned all of Porto's delectable treats, let me share one almost unbelievable fact... my entire order was just $10!!!!!!! It took me awhile to realize what I was hearing when the cashier told me the price. Having such amazing, affordable prices on top of delicious treats, no wonder Porto's passes the test of time, over and over again.
Porto's Bakery & Cafe: 315 North Brand Blvd. Glendale, CA 91203.