Conchas and Paletas in Huntington Park

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I had lunch last week at the always wonderful La Casita Mexicana on Gage Avenue in the town of Bell (I’ve told you about La Casita Mexicana, and I’m sure I’ll tell you more in the future)

On the way to the car, I was transported by the rich, sweet smell of fresh baked goods, and followed my nose into Panadería Los Reyes. It’s just a small, neighborhood bakery, but the neighborhood could just as easily be in Hermosillo, Zacatecas or Campeche. The carts stacked with still-warm croissants, conchas, galletas and other sweets were irresistible, and I left with a big bag of goodies that lasted an embarrassingly short time.

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I stopped on the way through Huntington Park to take some photos, and stumbled on Los Alpes Nevería, just around the corner from Gage and Pacific Avenue.

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Paletas are a favorite Meican ice cream treat, and I went for the “mango de leche, a refreshing creamy, fruity delicacy that was just right for a warm afternoon.

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I’ll even confess that I also stopped into La Monarca bakery for a couple of their amazing guava taquitos… but I took them home – really.

A quick walk down Pacific Avenue showed me that there’s lots to explore in Huntington Park, and I know I’ll be back soon.

La Monarca Bakery – Santa Monica

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When I stopped in at La Monarca for a couple of my favorite pastries in all of Los Angeles, the taquitos with guava and cheese filling, I realized that I need to share this delightful cafe and bakery with my friends and others who enjoy authentic Mexican pastries.

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La Monarca has several locations around L.A., but the one I go to is at the corner of Wilshire and Euclid in Santa Monica… not a neighborhood known for its Mexican cuisine. The pastries are always wonderfully fresh – I’m so obsessed with the guava taquitos that I haven’t yet tried all of the varieties, but I can strongly recommend the conchas, wedding cookies and café de olla.

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It’s a friendly place with a warm atmosphere and great coffee. I stop in whenever I’m in the neighborhood… In fact I think La Monarca is the reason I never changed my dry cleaner on Euclid Street when I moved away from Santa Monica a few months ago.

Here’s the website: http://lamonarcabakery.com/

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Carnitas Uruapan – Santa Ana – Conchitas

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Carnitas Uruapan is famous for its meats, and especially its carnitas. That’s why I was surprised when I visited their location at the East LA Meets Napa event last week. Every participating restaurant chose a signature dish to serve, and Carnitas Uruapan chose… baked goods.

I had been eating enthusiastically all evening, so I just asked to try the coconut cookie, and I couldn’t resist the heart-shaped peanut butter cookie. Both were delicious, with the natural coconut and rich peanut butter flavors highlighted by just enough sweetness, and perfectly executed textures.

My little surprise, though, was the Conchita that had been slipped into my bag. No great expert on Mexican baked goods, I tend to think of a concha as being a bit bigger, kind of dry, and served at breakfast in the hotels I visit. But this was something very different – absolutely the best version I have ever eaten. It was light and sweet, more like a beignet, even dusted with sugar in the same way.

Thank you to Carnitas Uruapan for this nice experience.

Here’s the website: http://www.carnitasuruapan.com