Last month, before all the crazy holiday stuff really started up, Mark and I got to spend the day with V, one of my oldest friends (we've known each other since I was about three). V treated us to a wonderful holiday afternoon performance by the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. We got there a couple of hours early to check out Porto's Bakery & Cafe, a staple of Los Angeles dining founded by the Cuban Porto family.
Despite the dreariness of the weather outside, the cafeteria-style bakery was absolutely slammed with people, and V mentioned that it is pretty much always like that.
As we waited in the chaos that was the "line," Mark's eyes were glued to the sweets on display. No wonder - Porto's originally took off on the strength of matriarch Rosa Porto's baking skills.
We were suddenly shoved unceremoniously to the front of the line, and, caught off guard, our ordering became a little frentic. In fact, I'm pretty sure our order got a bit mixed up with the person ordering next to us, because instead of the medianoche sandwich we ordered to split, the pan con lechon sandwich, with slow roasted pork, mojo garlic sauce, and grilled onions, on grilled Cuban bread and served with crispy plantain chips (below) arrived at our table. It looked really good, so we just tore into it. And it tasted as good as it looked. The flaky and crusty bread was a great vehicle for the wonderfully tender and flavorful pork.
We also ordered a number of the yummy meat pies, including the ground beef and pickle, the chicken pie...
and the chorizo pie. All were equally tasty, flaky little accompaniments to the sandwich's shining star, and I'm hard pressed to say I liked one more than the others, although the chorizo pie's slight spiciness may have given it an edge.
Another victim of our frenzied ordering was Mark's dessert. I'm not sure what this was, but it was not what Mark ordered. Nevertheless, it was pretty good, though a little rich for my liking. I'd like to come back and try some of the other endless pastry offerings displayed.
The food was pretty darned solid, and the best part? I'm pretty sure our check came in close to $10. I can absolutely see why the bakery was packed with families on a rainy Saturday afternoon, and has been successful enough to support two additional locations in Burbank and Downey - it's hard to pass up such cheap, filling, tasty food. While the line and service are a slight deterrent, next time I'm in Glendale, I may just stop in again, if only to try Porto's infamous potato balls.