It’s Hispanic Heritage Month, and what better way to celebrate than with some of the best Mexican baked goods in the Valley?
Whether it’s the sweet taste of a crunchy sopapilla, the fluffy texture of a pull-apart concha, or the creamy goodness of a sweet-filled empanada, everyone can enjoy delicious pan dulce.
From the West Valley to the East Valley, here are The Copper Courier’s favorite panaderias in metro Phoenix to check out.
Panaderia La Central
725 N. Central Ave., Avondale
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. | Sunday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Starting off strong in Avondale is the Panaderia La Central, a bakery and popular community hotspot for the occasional loteria game and constant influx of savory Mexican food from their kitchen. La Central has tons to offer, from drinks, desserts, and snacks, to, of course, their fresh baked goods.
La Central has an entire wall and display case chock full of pan dulce. Several shelves in the case and in the display included Mexican pan dulce classics like sugared pan de muerto, marranito cookies, coconut-covered niño envuelto cakes, and a rainbow variety of conchas—including a purple one I grabbed for myself. Beside the display of pastries is another display of beautifully decorated, multi-layered cakes, a selection of aguas frescas vitroleros behind the counter, and an assortment of gelatin and fruit cups. And while it may be a drive to get out to it, Panaderia La Central is well worth the trip for all it has to offer.
Panaderia y Restaurante Cristal
6402 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale
Hours: Sunday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Located along Glendale Avenue is the popular Panaderia y Restaurante Cristal, a bakery that offers specialty pan dulce as well as classic Mexican cuisine. Beside the large seating area inside the restaurant is a large case of Cristal’s baked fresh pastries. The case included several notable classics like giant cinnamon rolls, glazed varieties of donuts, yoyo sweetbread balls, and powdered sugar covered gallinas.
At the front counter, I found huge orejas inside the case alongside several other popular Mexican pastries like multi-colored sugar cookies, pink cuerno pan finos, mantecadas, and many other jelly-filled pastries, danishes, and cookies. Cristal’s more savory menu also included delicious favorites like enchiladas, flautas, tortas, and a variety of different tacos, if guests are looking for something less sweet from the kitchen.
La Purisima Bakery
4533 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. | Sunday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
A hotspot along Glendale Avenue with vibrant artwork on the side of the bright blue building is La Purisima Bakery. Known for its vast selection, the popular panaderia did not disappoint in its many cases of sweets, pastries, and freshly baked goods. When guests first walk in, they’re surrounded by the many cases behind the counter of dozens and dozens of different pastries.
Some of the most notable I saw were the multi-flavored and multi-colored conchas across the shelves, and the wide variety of sweet empanadas La Purisima had with flavors like apple, strawberry, sweet cream, and pina. A friendly patron recommended their fresh tortillas or a danés de fresa. I ended up taking home a chocolate donut with sprinkles and the fluffiest pink concha I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.
Panaderia El Guero
2535 E. Bell Road #14, Phoenix
Hours: Monday to Friday, 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. | Saturday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. | Sunday, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Further off the beaten path in North Phoenix is the pastilleria and Panaderia El Guero. Known for their specially designed, multi-layered cakes, El Guero is stocked with endless traditional Mexican sweets and treats. Upon walking in, I was greeted with the smell of fresh bread from the platter that had just been placed at the center of the store from the bakery, still bustling and busy with orders.
To the left is a series of homemade $3 helado baggies, featuring cool flavors like sandia (chile and chamoy), cajeta (milk caramel), fresanada, mango, nutella, and even a galleta cookie flavor. To the right is a large cooler of cakes with flavors like carrot, chocolate, vanilla, Oreo, flan, tres leches, and choco-flan. And at the center of the walk-in area is the large self-serve case of delectable Mexican pastries. El Guero had nearly every classic pastry you could imagine— gallinas, galletas de boda, conchas, coyotas, and the elote-shaped pan fino.
416 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. | Sunday, 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Located near the heart of downtown Phoenix is the popular restaurant and bakery Cocina Adamex. Most known for its delicious savory specials and authentic Mexican cuisine, Cocina Adamex also holds a large bakery. Having eaten there before, I thought it was great to revisit for the sweeter side of the restaurant in the form of their wide glass case at the front of the shop.
Immediately upon entering Cocina, guests are greeted by the array of colorful pastries inside the glass case. Free to grab a small plastic bag and a pair of tongs—guests are encouraged to help themselves and take their baggie of baked goodies to the front to pay. For a little less than a dollar, Cocina has multi-colored galletas in red, white, and green, or pink and brown pinwheels, and even some in the colors of a watermelon slice. And be sure to check out their huge, fluffy slices of nino envuelto cakes, complete with fresh strawberry fillings and topped with coconut flakes.
Panaderia los Jarochos
2822 N. 32nd St., Phoenix
Hours: Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. | Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. | Sunday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Huddled behind a Starbucks on Thomas Road is the hole-in-the-wall Panaderia los Jarochos. Marked by the painted chef carrying a platter of pastries, inside the bakery is a display of baked goods. With a straw basket with metal trays and tongs, it’s an easy self-serve bakery if you just request some bags or a box.
In the cases are a wide variety of multi-colored baked goods and pastries that come in both huge and small sizes. Never have I seen chamucos and orejas as big as the ones within Panaderia los Jarochos’s cases, and the large baked goods didn’t stop there. Inside the other cases were nearly fist-sized yo-yo- or beso- loaves with apple filling, multi-colored fluffy conchas, and enough huge donuts to feed an army. Overall, if you’re looking for pan dulce in larger than life sizes and shapes, Panaderia los Jarochos is your place to look.
4132 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Popular with locals and known for their variety of flavorful empanadas is Carmen’s Bakery. The tiny sweet spot is tucked away in a shopping center on McDowell. With inexpensive prices and amazing quality in ingredients, Carmen’s is easily one of the best places to get authentic Mexican pan dulce in the Valley.
At the front of the store are coolers filled with slices of vanilla, chocolate, and flan cakes. Beside them is a glass case of pastries the size of my head, some jelly-filled and powder-covered cookies, and large loaves of sweet bread. The selection extends in the wooden case filled with even more baked goods like large cochito, pink-powdered covered croissants, and a multitude of empanadas ranging from limon and apple to pumpkin and lemon. And be sure to ask the bakery staff about to-go boxes or their bags of bread.
La Estrella Panadería y Carnicería
819 E. Broadway Road, Mesa
Hours: Monday to Sunday, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Tucked away off of Main in Mesa is the part convenience store, part fresh bakery La Estrella Panaderia y Carniceria. A small joint with few parking spaces, it’s a local hotspot known for their baked fresh daily pastries and friendly familiar faces. Within the first few minutes of my visit, a supply van stopped by with fresh ingredients.
Inside the panaderia, past the rows of chips, coolers, candy, and other snacks, is the large glass case filled to the brim with coyotas, croissants, orejas, conchas, and many more of the classic Mexican pastries. There was also a hutch at the center of the store with specialty, colorful cookies and sweet breads. I wound up getting a custard-filled pan fino with a soft crunch that was easily pulled apart, was full of gushy sweetness, and also cost less than $2.
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