Bread culture is massive in Latin America and panaderías (bakeries) are a daily pit stop. Most shops are filled with a dizzying array of pan dulce, cakes, and savory offerings like cuñape (yuca bread) and birote (sourdough bread). From colorful conchas to meaty empanadas, there is a similarly wide range of incredible Hispanic pastries to try across NYC, ranging from Mexican to Colombian - and many more Latin countries in between. And just as diverse as Latin America itself are these nine panaderías.
The empanadas here are a must. This colorful blue, white, pink, and yellow Colombian bakery in East Bushwick serves cakes, raspas (snow cones), and cookies too. In addition to the olive-stuffed beef empanadas, there’s also the cheesy “kolache” empanada, chickpea, and plantain and guava varieties, plus gluten-free and vegan options. The sweet offerings rotate often, and I am personally here for the super moist plantain, cardamom, and black pepper bread and chocolate tres leches cakes when they’re available.
This is the spot in Flushing for conchas, the Mexican pan dulce with cookie crumb topping. Grab a tray and a pair of tongs and load up on the technicolored conchas (neon pink is a must). Fruit tarts, Jello-mold cakes, flan, and chicharrón sold by the pound are big here too. The Mexican bakery is also owned by the folks who run Tulcingo Restaurant right across the street, in case you’re in the mood for tacos and cemitas as well.
When the occasion calls for cake, like your best friend’s birthday or a night in with the latest bingeable show you’d never tell anyone you are obsessed with, head to this woman-owned Dominican bakery in Alphabet City. Rossy’s specializes in Dominican-style yellow cakes, characterized by their moist and airy crumb and meringue frosting. We’re talking multi-tiered, flashy fondant-and-cartoon figurine bedecked treats with curly script that would give Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood cause to tremble. These cakes make an appearance at birthdays, baby showers, and anniversaries, but the bakery also offers breakfast, coffee, shakes, and savory items like sancocho, pollo guisado, and empanadas. If you can’t commit to a giant cake, then grab a slice of the guava or pineapple cake paired with a Café Especial de Maria, a double dosing of evaporated and regular milk plus sugar and cinnamon.
I regularly make the pilgrimage from downtown Manhattan to Don Paco Lopez to take home a haul of pan dulce from this Mexican bakery. With locations in East Harlem and Sunset Park, this place has rows upon rows of incredible sweets like flaky orejas (elephant ears), campechanas (glazed caramelized puffs), conchas, and so many more. They also have savory things like tamales, pambazos (red sauce-soaked sandwiches), and quesadillas or ‘quecas’ as they are called colloquially.
Get here on the early side because everyone else that comes to La Nueva has the same idea: breakfast. This family-owned Uruguayan bakery specializes in sweet and savory treats from Colombia and Argentina - you’ll see all three flags emblazoned on the bakery window. I come here for the Uruguayan (or Argentinian) sandwich cookies known as alfajores. They come in dulce de leche, chocolate, and maizena (corn) so just get all three with a cafe con leche. Also worth prioritizing is the spinach quiche, stuffed with more spinach than I knew was possible (it’s almost pure green).
Want a cake in the shape of a Chanel handbag or Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean? No problem, Capri Bakery can do it. They’ve been in the cake business in Harlem for more than 35 years and have made cakes out of every shape you can think of. This is another special occasion cakes spot, but they also have pastry cases full of Latin breads and sweets, like mallorcas (Puerto Rican breakfast sweet rolls), pan cubano, guava-filled pastelillos, and more.
Most of the panaderías on this guide specialize in cakes, cookies, and breads (as they should, this is a bakery guide). But I’m giving this spot a shout-out for their avena (oatmeal). Seriously, it’s thick, milky, sweet, and made with entire cinnamon sticks. And served in a paper coffee cup. I love that. The Washington Heights Domincan cake spot also makes a creamy dulce de leche cake so good that you’ll grab a second slice for Future You, and they’ll be glad you did. Get that, some tres leches or flan, and if you are feeling something savory, a giant toasted jamón y queso sandwich.
I fancy myself a pseudo-concha-connoisseur, so I head to this Bed-Stuy Mexican bakery for a concha shopping spree. It’s a tray-and-tong situation here, so load up on all the typical pan dulces like conchas (including bright blue, green, and seasonal designs like pumpkin), cuernitos, and a decadent dulce de leche cake. There are also seasonal specialties like pan de muerto (orange zest-flavored Day of the Dead bread) and Roscas de Reyes (“King’s Wreath” decorated with multicolored candied fruit peels eaten around Christmas).
Rio de La Plata in Flushing specializes in sandwiches de miga and facturas, the umbrella term for pastries in Argentina. These crustless Argentine sandwiches come as single, double, or triple-deckers, and look like English tea sandwiches or Italian tramezzini with their sharp cuts, which makes sense given the adoption of Italian food in Argentina via historical immigration. The bakery is pequeño, so pair your miga (I like the ham and cheese) with an alfajor or medialuna for a perfect lunch to-go.