Sunday, January 09, 2011

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
(562) 862-8888

Tommy Bahama - Laguna Beach


At 6:32 PM, Blogger EatTravelEat said...

Yum! I went to the Porto's in Glendale a few months ago and this location definitely looks larger. And I agree, those cheese rolls are delicious. You should try the mango mousse if you haven't already, it's like eating a mango! I also like their chicken empanada.

At 11:53 PM, Blogger joanh said...

oh the cheese rolls are so good. drool drool

At 9:54 AM, Blogger Bill said...

Dang it I was in SoCal and I meant to swing by but ran out of time. :-(

At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Das Ubergeek said...

The cheese rolls at Tropicana Bakery (also in Downey) blow Porto's out of the water. I just bought some today for a meeting—they were hot out of the oven and it was perfection writ pastry.

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Madison said...

This is so much closer! I am going the next time I am near that area! I've tried those mashed potato balls before but I am not a huge fan. Probably because I'm not a big meat and potato kinda girl. I am really excited to try their other baked goods. That first photo looks amazing. Are they mostly busy the entire day? If anyone goes here often, can you let me know.

At 3:14 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...


Love the mango mousse. Didn't get to try it here this time though. Too full!

The Glendale Porto's is still a landmark for me. But I'm glad there's this one, which is about half the distance!


Ditto ditto!


Next time, put in your itinerary! :-)


Wut?! Why didn't you say so earlier!? I got dibs on the Dueling Dishes! Valerio's also does a decent one, but that's also decidedly not OC!


They are reportedly busy the entire day. Best time is between 7 pm and 8 pm. That's when I went, and the lines thinned out once they closed the doors! Funny how that happens! :-)

At 9:26 AM, Anonymous Marian the Foodie said...

I love love LOOOOVE the cheese rolls at Porto's. I can probably eat a whole dozen haha!

At 9:13 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...


I *HAVE* eaten a whole dozen! HAHAH!


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