Hole in one
Panaderia Las Palomas isn’t in a fancy part of town, and there certainly isn’t anything fancy about the place. There are a few posters and advertisements on the walls, retail items for sale—including mason jars of housemade salsas—and display cases full of baked goods. But I wasn’t there for the ambiance. I’ll take function over form any day.
The combined aromas of pastries and spicy hot dishes wafting from the kitchen was completely intoxicating. Though it didn’t take long for my to-go order to be completed, waiting in that swirl of scents made my mouth water with anticipation.
The menu board is short and sweet. Although nearly everything is available as a combo plate, I chose to skip the rice and beans and focus on easily shareable items.
I think it’s almost a given that you should try a torta when visiting a Mexican bakery, and I wasn’t disappointed by Panaderia Las Palomas’ version. I’m usually a fan of carnitas or pollo in my sandwiches, but the carne asada torta ($8.99) sounded best that day. Steak, lettuce, tomato, mayo and sliced jalapeño were stuffed into one of the biggest bolillo rolls I’ve seen. The roll was soft and crusty, the meat was tender, and the complete combination made for a sandwich I’d definitely order again. We cut it into sections, and there was plenty to go around.
Speaking of plenty to go around, a grande order of albondigas soup ($8.99) was easily enough to share between four hungry people. Many local versions of this meatball and vegetable classic consist of potato, carrot, onion and zucchini, with variations here and there. This 32-ounce serving featured six large meatballs and huge chunks of carrot, potato and chayote squash. It was served with a stack of housemade white corn tortillas. The seasonings in the broth and meat were complementary, and the veggies were cooked just right. It’s a very hearty, meaty comfort food dish.
An order of six street tacos ($1.49 each, $1 on Fridays), one for each available meat, was also served with the housemade tortillas, made fresh daily. They were stuffed with plenty of meat, onion and cilantro, and served with extra onion, cilantro and lime wedges on the side. Meats included steak, slow-cooked pork, marinated pork, chicken, beef head and beef tongue. Both pork tacos were good, but the flavor of the marinated pig was best. The chicken was a little dry, and the beef head was on the fatty side, but neither was lacking in flavor. If you’re a lover of tongue, this is a place to try. The lengua taco had excellent texture and flavor. I could get very full very fast on a Friday visit.
A pair of chicharron pupusas ($2.50 each, $1.25 on Mondays) made me sad, but only because I regretted not having purchased more. The seasoned pork and cheese filling was ample, and the texture was right in the Goldilocks zone between too soft and too crisp. With the addition of mild tomato salsa and an above average curtido slaw, they were just right. The lightly fermented slaw was of particular note. Small slices of mild chile were added to the standard mix of shredded cabbage, carrot and onion, an addition that made it extra special. There are quite a few places I like for pupusas, but I’ll return to this shop just for the extra yummy curtido.