I used Google and Yelp to begin my search in Raleigh and the surrounding area to attempt to find my own special Panaderia (bakery). I think Mexican pastries are not only unique, but extremely tasty, an integral part of the cafe to come. What goes better with coffee than a soft, chewy pastry lightly dusted in sugar? Answer: Nothing. Some Mexican pastries resemble much of what Americans are used to seeing in the grocery store: croissants, chocolate doughnuts, and pound cake. They just have different names like: Cuernitos Danes, Dona de Chocolate, and Panke. They also tend to have a special flare to them, their Cuernitos de Canela looks basically like a croissant, but take a better look, or even a bite, and you realize that is dusted with fine sugar, striped down the middle with a pink, subtle frosting that melts in your mouth. I love it. I love them all. And I am supposed to be on a diet.
I got lucky early and found a gem on the border of Garner and Raleigh, El Toro Mercado y Restaurante. I went in the restaurant side first and had an awesome Pollo Asado Torta, the Mexican version of a chicken sandwich with avocado, tomato, cheese, and chicken all inside a massive dome-shaped soft bun. Then I headed over to the market side and I felt like I was instantly transported back to San Diego. The entire back wall of the market was a refrigerated display of every part of chicken, cow, and pig you can imagine. Nothing gets thrown away. Nothing. Farther in the back I found the Panaderia, stocked full of just made pastries that ranged from the shape of a pig, to a creme filled, chocolate covered flaky croissant that tasted like nothing I have had before. Perfect.
I got to meet briefly with the manager and explain what I was attempting to do. He had never been approached to work in partnership with someone else like this… perfect.