La Esperanza Bakery2031 Prater Way
Sparks, NV 89431
You know those annoying food snobs who are always whining about how they want “real, authentic [insert ethnic culinary category here] cuisine”? Well, that’s me. Thus it is with enthusiasm that I give a suggestion for those inclined toward some simple but genuine Mexican food here in Reno-Sparks: La Esperanza Bakery, located on the corner of Prater and Sullivan, near Terrible’s Rail City Casino.
When my husband and I walked in late one morning, we knew the odds of getting the real deal were good because the overwhelming majority of the clientele were locals from the largely Hispanic neighborhood. A friendly man behind the counter walked us through our options, while other customers either finished breakfast at the tables or stocked up on pastries. The place is part convenience store, part bakery and part eatery. It has a jumbled look about it, and the tables didn’t seem to get wiped off very often. It’s not a place to go for ambiance.
It is however, a place to go for tasty eats, to go. The pastry cabinets were still partly empty, not yet full of the fresh bread and breakfast rolls for the day rush, but the various menu options were still available. We decided to try a variety. I loved the cheese and jalapeño bolillo—a fresh baked bread roll stuffed earlier that morning with the aforementioned contents. My husband felt it was edged out by the queso blanco sandwich (with lettuce, onion, tomato, and jalapeño, $3), perhaps because it was reminiscent of similar items we enjoyed during our travels in Central America. But we both agreed that the top honor went to the cheese quesadilla ($4.50), a thick crescent of bread fully blessed with fresh lettuce, tomato, avocado and cream cheese, baked to a perfect golden hue that put to shame the cheddar-on-raw-wheat-tortilla clichés often found in major chains. We were in no danger of finishing all this bounty, but still managed to nibble on churros, delicious sticks of chewy pastry coated in cinnamon, before bagging the rest for dinner.
There are a few other options on the handwritten menu that future connoisseurs could consider, such as goat stew ($1.50), burritos ($4.50) or the Cubana (breaded steak, ham and cheese, $5.50). And of course, there are a variety of fresh pastries that unfortunately, like our bolillo, were not priced. We tried to find out, but to no avail. There was too much baking to be done, and time spent telling customers what things cost is time lost, apparently.
Like I said, don’t go to be wined, dined and fawned over. There isn’t even a tip line on the credit card slips, and the staff is busy as hell. Still, our cashier helped with some explanations (such as the proper spelling of bolillo) and was eager to tailor our order to our specifications. While technically “fast food,” it is fashioned from good, simple, authentic Mexican ingredients such as the distinctive traditional cheeses, and at less than $10 for everything, ours was a phenomenal bargain. My husband pronounced the whole thing a spectacular value through a mouthful of queso blanco, and right then, as though on cue, the bakers in back cranked the volume on the pop track playing on the Spanish language radio station and burst into joyous accompanying choruses. We laughed at this fitting end to a fun experience at La Esperanza Bakery.