Sunday, October 19, 2008

Porto's Bakery - Glendale

Their inventory: massive. Their reputation: legendary. The lines: long. The parking situation: road-ragy.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Porto's Bakery.

I rarely go up to L.A., let alone Glendale, but when I do, it is always part of the itinerary. And in L.A. or O.C., I've never met its equal. Porto's is the mothership of all Southern Californian Cuban bakeries, which until recently, supplied Cafe Contigo in Anaheim with most of its baked goods.

Last week, Gustavo Arellano broke the news that Cafe Contigo has closed. So now, eventhough I actually never got a chance to visit Cafe Contigo, I'll have no choice but to make the pilgrimage to Glendale if I ever wanted to take a taste of their sublime cakes and pastries again.

And because of this news, I'm craving their good, rich, and chocolatey desserts more than ever. But it's their savory items that I'm dreaming of most.

They have this mashed potato ball that's filled with seasoned ground beef and then deep fried to golden brown orbs. And oh, their empanadas! It's flaky, warm and bursting with raisins, chicken, and a flavor I haven't encountered since a trip to Miami. There's also the Cuban version of the tamale, which is a gentler, smoother, milder and more subtle version than the Mexican ones I'm usually used to.

All was worth the drive and the threat of violence from the motorist who claimed that he saw a parking space before I did.

Since my last trip was sometime in February, I guess it's due time to put gas in the old Honda and set civility aside.

Porto's Bakery
(818) 956-5996
315 N Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA 91203

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19 Comments:

At 6:17 AM, Blogger Loving Annie said...

Good morning to you Elmo. Sounds VERY worth a visit.
If you are going in the afternoon, and want company on the drive, invite me please :) That would be fun ! Maybe Saturday November 1st when the traffic should be slow ?

 
At 9:04 AM, Blogger bonnindesigns said...

Seriously? Cafe Contigo closed? They were doing great. I went there several times at all times of the day and it was always busy. That just sucks. They had the best cafe con leche I ever had. My family will be sad to hear the news since they are Cuban and really felt a connection there. So sad.

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger digkv said...

Gah I haven't been to Porto's in a long time. Now I'm craving those croquettes and meat pies and a cuban sandwich. I have to say that I'm surprised you crave the "chocolatey" desserts of Porto's since I always thought you weren't much a fun of the stuff.
Other good things: the delicious fruit tarts that I think pwn Van's Bakeries and other Vietnamese tarts; the Cuban crackers; guava pastry of course; and the plantain chips. The other great thing about this place is the price: everything is incredibly cheap and affordable.

 
At 7:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think when i go back to indonesia, portos pastry will be one of those food that i'm gonna miss.

 
At 1:44 AM, Blogger KirkK said...

Hi Elmo - I think I'll check out the empanandas if I'm in the area....road rage, parking lot rage is an ugly thing. Oh, and greetings from the PDR Laos!

 
At 4:23 PM, Anonymous Marvin said...

I've had porto's potato balls and empanadas before--hours old and taken home by my brother--and I loved them. I'll have to fill up my old civic and drive there too to try the goods firsthand and fresh.

 
At 8:35 PM, Blogger Vegasbuff said...

I really like their chocolate croissants. And for the price, they're hard to beat.

Everybody also seems to make a beeline for the cheese rolls, although the amount of cream cheese is pretty skimpy.

 
At 10:05 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Annie,

I'll let you know if I do. They are worth the drive. I wish they just opened a bonafide branch down here. It's time.

Bonnindesigns,

It's true. And sad indeed. Shows that I really have to get out there to try these new places -- you never know they'll go kaput.

Digkv,

Oh no, I'm an equal opportunity eater. I love chocolate. Right now I can't think of anything I don't like. And I do love those croquettes. They're probably the best I've ever had, outside of my mom's.

Anon,

True. Porto's is great. But then if you go back to Indo, there's soto, sate, gado gado, kroket, etc. to keep you busy.

kirk,

You are a well-traveled man, my friend! I wish I can live the mmm-yoso way!

Marvin,

They are better fresh! But I warn you, there are more temptations there. You'll end up eating more than just the empanadas and croquettes.

Vegasbuff,

Hmm...cheese rolls, eh? That's one I missed. Also, I haven't tried one of their Cuban sandwiches.

 
At 7:50 PM, Blogger Loving Annie said...

http://truetraveltreasures.blogspot.com/2008/10/my-perfect-saturday-in-orange-county-ca.html

Elmo,
mentioned you and gave a link back to one of your reviews on my post above :)

 
At 4:49 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Annie,

THANKS! As always! I like that your perfect Saturday revolves around food, as mine would also be. Browsing through cookbooks at the bookstore is one of my favorite pasttimes.

 
At 12:17 PM, Blogger Christine D. said...

Yum! My sister said that she'll take me to Porto's when I come visit her. I have my eye on those potato balls...how much did they cost?

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Christine,

Oh I wish I remembered how much they were. I think they were less than a buck, or a buck each. Either way, worth every penny! Empanadas too! Actually everything! Everything is worth every penny.

 
At 10:11 PM, Anonymous Karen said...

Elmo,

Delurking to thank you for tipping us off on Porto's! My husband was working in the Burbank area last weekend so I said absolutely do not come home without stopping at Portos! We had the potato balls, empanadas, tamales and a selection of desserts: dulce de leche napoleons, tres leche cake, something called a "checker" (light fluffy cake with chocolate) and a variety of muffins and cookies.

Everything was delicious, savory, tasty, sublime!

Can't thank you enough for pointing us that way! Now if only they'd open one up in OC...

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Karen,

So glad you delurked to tell me you tried it! And I'm with ya! I wish they opened one in OC already!

 
At 2:08 AM, Blogger joanh said...

I think I had their napoleons at a baby shower in Glendale once. MMMMMMMMmmmmmm. Ate way too many.

 
At 6:12 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

joan,

Porto's stuff are known to make people do that!

 
At 6:35 PM, Anonymous OCcubanita said...

Ah yes. Portos - the one place my Cuban family will cross the Orange curtain to visit. I grew up on this stuff and I have cousins in Miami that will attest to the fact that Porto's pasteries are even better than what you can find on Calle Ocho. For those that didn't know - their Cuban cakes are to die for and they will deliver wedding cakes to the OC (a fact we pleasantly uncovered while planning for my sister's wedding!) :)

 
At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Digame said...

OCcubanita-- they do! I seem to remember stumbling across a wedding cake ad of theirs on http://www.gatheringguide.com/ec/wedding_cakes_bakeries.html, at least I think it was them, and being surprised. Wedding cake delivery FTW!!

 
At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Porto's Bakery! I just recently went and they have changed the recipe for the cuban Tamales. Major mistake!!! I would love to know who did they buy the tamales from, so I can go by them from them.

 

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