The Best Panaderías in LA

11 great Latin American bakeries for stocking up on pan dulce, cakes, and vegan pastries.

photo credit: La Monarca Bakery

If there’s one thing that LA has plenty of, besides questionable landlords and pre-pubescent Internet stars, it’s great panaderías. Some sell a mix of Mexican, Salvadoran, or Guatemalan specialties, while others have successfully veganized their options. But no matter what you’re after, these are the 11 panaderías and pan dulce shops you should prioritize.


photo credit: Gusto Bread


Long Beach

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The bakers at Gusto Bread in Long Beach are sourdough people. At their adobe-tiled storefront on Retro Row, they put naturally leavened dough and heirloom grains to good use with spins on classic Mexican pastries that often sell out by early afternoon. The star of the show here is the tender chocolate concha, coated in a crunchy layer of cacao crumble that spirals to the center. You'll also find highlights like jalapeño cheddar bolillos, guava pastelitos, and caramelized orejas rolled in toasted corn husk sugar, plus seasonal specials like rosca de reyes and pan de meurto. The coffee drinks—made with beans sourced from Oaxaca—are excellent, too.

Open since 1952, La Mascota is a Boyles Height institution that specializes in two things dear to our stomachs: conchas and tamales. The conchas are the main attraction:fluffy, perfectly sweet, and fresh out of the oven starting at 5am). The sheer amount of pan dulce in this shop is genuinely impressive, but fear not because you can't go wrong with the bakery's creamy capirotada pudding, piloncillo-flavored puerquitos, sugary gusano rolls, or anything else.

La Monarca is a popular chain with panaderías across the city, which means their mini conchas are probably no more than 20 minutes away at any time. We love their excellent tacos, not to be confused with the meat and tortilla kind. These pastries are buttery rolls baked until golden brown, filled with custard or dulce de leche, and dusted with sugar. If you prefer savory in the morning, the molletes made with their house bolillos are the move. The rolls are cut in half, slathered with refried beans and cheese, then baked until bubbly and crispy around the edges.

Delicias Bakery & Some does a lot of things (and then some). This Highland Park spot is great for a morning cafecito and mollete, but the long list of vegan options is why we keep this panadería in our back pocket. Pretty much everything can be made plant-based, from the tiny coconut flans to the fluffy birotes in their breakfast tortas and the big, pillowy conchas that get dunked into the coffee from Delicias espresso bar. Expect traditional concha flavors like pinole, chocolate, and strawberry, plus occasional specials like matcha and lavender.

Panadería Cuscatleca in Pico-Union bakes bread styles from Mexico, El Salvador, and Guatemala, all of which you can get vegan or not-so-vegan. The Salvadoran quesadilla is their signature—custardy but light, just sweet enough, and even a little salty (there's actual parmesan cheese in the recipe). If you want something equally special minus the copious amount of dairy, the flaky, vegan semita de piña is also delicious, as are the fried tamales meant to be dipped into their refried beans and plant-based Salvadoran "crema."

This East LA bakery is old, as in, the wooden display cases have been around since the 1940s. It's very charming, but where El Gallo really gets us is their razor-sharp versions of classic pan dulce. The buttery frosting on the rebanadas is mildly sweet and perfectly spread across the bread, and the puerqitos taste like a Christmas spice cabinet with piloncillo and cinnamon. Get the ojos de buey if you want something extra sweet: two crumbly shortbread cookies covered in a strawberry glaze and rolled in dried coconut.

Sonora Bakery isn't the largest  panadería in LA, but it's stocked with every pan dulce, cake, and baked goods you could ever want. Most of the space in this East LA shop is occupied by tall glass displays with rows of crescent-shaped cuernitos, sweet conchas, and fresh-baked bolillo rolls to fill your tray (and Nissan Sentra) with. Sonora might be best known, though, for its custom cakes and party subs available up to 10 feet long. These gargantuan sandwiches are made with freshly baked bread and come with everything from salami, ham, turkey, and milanesa. If you're not planning to feed a gaggle of teenagers though, you can get a footlong for less than $10.  

Before you pull up and question whether you're in the right place: there's nothing French about this Arlington Heights bakery. It did sell baguettes in its previous life, but after quite the rebrand, came into its own as an excellent panadería. Expect long lines most days, which means time to stare at sugar-crusted pan dulce and debate which you'll eat on the drive home. Their selection is massive, but highlights include custard-filled pastelitos, gusano rolls with streusel, and fluffy tortas de azucar that are so airy they magically disappear in your morning coffee. Cash only.

A visit to La Panadería Michoacana in South Central can go several ways. Want pressed juices, Mexican popsicles, or café de olla? They have it. Are you in need of a three-layered Barbie Beach House-themed birthday cake for your niece, who occasionally likes you? Done. But the main reason to stop by this panadería is their tres leches, one of our favorites in LA. It's more milk than lechera, and even better the next day if you manage to save some.

This colorful Pico-Union trifecta is a Oaxacan restaurant, food market, and panadería wrapped in one. El Valle Oaxaqueño's baked goods section is our favorite thing about this spot, with glass displays packed with Oaxacan specialties, like pan de yema, a fluffy egg bread that goes hand-in-hand with Mexican hot chocolate. Pan de muerto, typically seasonal, is also sold fresh here and comes as face-sized loaves of sweet bread sprinkled with sesame seeds for a classic touch.

If the name, menu items, or abundance of patriotic memorabilia don't give it away, this East Hollywood spot wants you to know that it's a 100% Salvadoran bakery—and a great one at that. You'll find excellent quesadillas salvadoreñas and a sticky banana bread pudding that tastes like a half-dozen sweet, caramelized bananas condensed into a single slice of cake (it that usually ends up being eaten in the car before we get home). Plan on grabbing a few items, because everything we’ve tried, from the jelly-filled semitas and the milhojas with layers of whipped meringue, is a winner.

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