Porto's Bakery & Cafe - Downey
Area bakeries, patisseries: the disturbance you feel in the Force can be explained. Porto's has opened in Downey. It's only the third Porto's in the Southern California area, but it's one that people like me have been waiting for.
It is perhaps the most anticipated bakery to debut anywhere in our vicinity and it is massive. This is a bakery of a different order. A bakery with its own gravitational pull. It easily dwarfs the one in Glendale, and is even bigger than the one in Burbank.
The building it occupies used to be bank, a Cal Fed. Sight lines disappear into the horizon.
Customers standing in its two queues ebb and flow like the surf. High tide is all the time, until the doors slide shut at 8 p.m. Around 8:01 p.m. there are bound to be stragglers who beg, plead, to get inside.
Everyone has their own reason to love this Cuban bakery. I have more than a few. First and foremost: their potato balls, orbs of mashed potato stuffed to the edges with seasoned, spicy ground beef, fried to golden-brown with a fine-grit breadcrumb crust. The thing weighs as heavy in the hand as a shotput, but on the palate, it's light and blubbery, gone in an instant.
Croquettes are kind of like the potato balls but forgo the spuds for shredded chicken-meat enconsed in a creamy mixture. They are formed into little footballs before being deep fried to craggle-crusted awesomeness.
Then there's the cheese rolls, a wonder rhombus of flakiness, the cheese danish of the Gods. Other bakeries make it, but none can do it like Porto's. We bought a dozen and ate a few while it was still warm. The sugar dusting on the top crackled 'neath our teeth, the layers of crispness parting in shards, and the salty/sweet/savory cheese inside, the soft landing we needed. Our eyes rolled back into our heads. Baked goods don't get more orgasmic than this.
Sandwiches range from the traditionally Cuban, to some that are sort of Italian, all with crispy plantains as long as tongue depressors subbing for chips. The empanadas are fine and tasty, so are the husk-wrapped tamales, which can be a bit dry. But there are literally hundreds of other delights to try; other discoveries to be made. Porto's has opened in Downey. And it is good.
Porto's Bakery & Cafe
8233 Firestone Blvd
Downey, CA 90241
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