Hollywood folk soon will have a new place to get their espresso fix, along with a dulce de leche croissant or a concha.
In other words, La Monarca Bakery opens soon at the corner of Sunset Blvd. and Gower Street. This will be its first branch in the heart of L.A. The others are outliers, in Commerce, Huntington Park, South Pasadena and Santa Monica.
Ricardo Cervantes, La Monarca's founder, had been scouting a new location in the area. Then, lucky break, a "for lease" sign went up just as he drove by. Red Ribbon Bakery, the previous occupant, had moved out after 27 years.
Following a week and a half of demolition, serious construction began. Cervantes hopes the new bakery will be ready for a soft opening before Christmas. That had better happen, because he's come up with a rompope tres leches cake for the holidays. And it would be nice to drop in for a crunchy Christmas buñuelo. La Monarca is the only bakery anywhere, including Mexico, that bakes buñuelos rather than frying them, he points out.
If the opening is delayed, there may still be time to get out the ring breads needed for El Día de Los Reyes (Three Kings Day) on Jan. 6. But Cervantes knows that opening a new place usually takes longer than expected. "We're really planning for January, to be honest," he says.
Popular La Monarca pastries that will be on hand include guava and cream cheese croissants, chocolate croissants, sweet puff pastry "tacos" filled with dulce de leche or Bavarian cream, and cocoa and vanilla conchas, which are the most popular of all Mexican pan dulce. Mexican coffees to go with these will include café de olla (spiced coffee) and café Oaxaca, which is Mexican hot chocolate with a shot of espresso. There will be lattes and the like, too, all made with organic coffee from Oaxaca.
Cervantes will premiere a couple of new dishes at the Hollywood location, then roll them out at the other stores. They are a garbanzo and red bean salad with cotija cheese and a corn and black bean salad with cilantro lime dressing.
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"We try to stay at the forefront," he says. "We were the first to do agave-sweetened pastries and cookies." He's tried making gluten-free conchas, but that didn't work out. So he's come up with another gluten-free idea -- oat-based granola. There will be two -- agave nectar granola with crushed walnuts, coconut and golden raisins, and Mexican hot chocolate granola with chocolate chips. The oats for these will be toasted with butter.
You can already see a yogurt parfait made with the new granola at the Hollywood location, as well as the new garbanzo and red bean salad. Both appear in the big bright food photos that temporarily line the windows. These are not just a cover-up for the construction inside but community relations. "We like to show people what we are going to be featuring," Cervantes says.
Read more from Barbara Hansen at TableConversation.com, EatMx.com, @foodandwinegal and Facebook. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.