El Gallo Bakery
Pudín De Maíz
Empanada De Crema
Pastelitos De Manzana
Cuernos De Mantequilla
Ojos de Buey (Besos)
Pasteles De Almendras, Piña, Cereza
Rieles Guava Cheese
Galleta Grajea, Galleta de Sandia, Galleta Happy Face
Mango Tres Leches
Serving the City of Angels for nearly seventy years it was just past 7:30am on Saturday that the drive was made to El Gallo Bakery, an arrival in East Los Angeles before eight avoiding traffic but finding the small parking lot packed and a queue of patrons already growing.
Founded in 1949 by a siblings from Mexico, a lifetime helping at their father’s Panaderia south of the border providing skills that would serve them well, guests entering the low-slung place nestled amongst Taquerias and Bodegas will find confines cramped but charming, a U-shaped flow around tables lined in goods offering what must be at least one hundred types of Cake and Pan Dulce.
Said to be one of California’s best Mexican Bakeries and still decidedly authentic, Magdalena Martinez-Huerta’s recipes handed down to Jesus who upgraded equipment decades later to scale-up production, it is with most items unlabeled that staff proves happy to explain contents and traditional names, the choice to begin with Concha immediately attesting to better-than-average Flour as the base is yeasty but not dry beneath crunchy Vanilla Sugar.
Ranging from Sweet to Savory but arranged in no particular pattern, baking cups filled moist Sweet Corn Pudding right next to Reposteria such as laminated Puff Pastry filled with Cherries, Pineapple and Almond Paste, it is well-advised that those seeking an unexpected delight invest in at least one item filled with Apples, the typical “Pie Filling” eschewed for Cinnamon-stewed chunks and in the case of what can best be described as a Danish also dusted in buttery Streusel.
Perhaps best known for Cuernos De Mantequilla, El Gallo Bakery’s take on the Croissant quite possibly using more Butter than those in Paris or Lyon, another highlight is delivered by the simple Sweet Cream Empanada while an item listed as “Rieles” takes the same filling and matches it to Guava Jam thus raising the bar even higher.
Always leery of Besos, though Huerta’s version listed as Ojos de Buey is anything but dry and thus a textbook example, it was in three Sugar Cookies including one smile and another decorated like Watermelon that more enjoyable bites were found while the Tres Leches saved for last was wet but not sopping and topped in a Chamoy-covered Mango for those who prefer things a little less sugary.