hilda’s bakery panaderia / city heights – san diego, ca
After we dropped off the kiddos, Jake and I went on a few errands. We had been talking about making tacos for dinner and wanted to check out this place in City Heights that made fresh tortillas.When we got there though, the place was closed. Sad faces, man! They closed at 2PM but there was a sign on the door in Spanish and pointed next door. My Spanish is not that good and I vaguely understood that tortillas were sold next door so we wandered over that way. Lucky for us next door there was a panaderia – and who am I to pass up the opportunity to go in there?!
Jake and I must have passed this place so many, many times on our way through University Avenue but I have honestly never noticed it before. It’s a small shop and you can see the kitchen in the back.
Another customer came in while we were ogling the pastries and I took it upon myself to discreetly take some photos. But I only managed to get the bottom three shelves (there’s one more that I couldn’t get in without seeming really obvious). Here you can see tons of different cookies, donuts, and conchitas.
Over here we’ve got those jelly roll coconut things, cream horns (I’m sure they have another name but I call them cream horns) one with powdered sugar and one without, more cookies, empanadas and more.
More cookies and other sweet things that I don’t know the name of!
On the bottom I spied some orejas cookies or palmiers (I always called the Elephant Ears), some buttered/sugared bread and these MASSIVE loaves of bread above those. They had them cut in half or whole loaves – not sure what the flavor was, but it looked like giant sized banana bread loaves. I didn’t ask. I should have.
There was also some churros by the register and a rolled out cart that held a bunch of breads that looked freshly baked. Over on Yelp people seem to be going ga-ga for the churros that we skipped over that day.
This is what we ended up getting. The total damage? $3.05. We both saw signs for .60 cents and .80 cents, but I’m not sure what cost what. In any case, it’s damn cheap and quite affordable – even if it is a cash only joint.
The first thing we
devoured tried was the Elephant Ear. I broke it in half intending to only eat a little and share with Jake but I ended up eating nearly that whole half… it was wonderful crunchy and had that almost burnt sugar taste to it – that sticky sweet, caramelized sugar taste, you know? The caramelized flavor paired with the a buttery flavor and the crunch made it taste simply delightful to my taste buds and I headed back to finish off the rest of it (sharing it with Jake and T, of course).
The next thing I was looking forward to trying was the empanada next to the “cajeta” sign – or caramel. Caramel empanada WOOO! I sliced it in half to see the caramel in all it’s wondrous glory and was not disappointed. There’s a thick smooth layer of caramel inside which had thickened/hardened up a bit. I popped it into the microwave for about 15 seconds to loosen/heat it up a little before giving it a taste. The caramel started to ooze a touch and was wonderfully buttery and rich. The empanada shell was crusty and flaky and held up very well – a really surprisingly delicious treat. I’d get these again in a HEARTBEAT. I’m already thinking about when I can go back for more of these!
I wasn’t quite sure of the name of this one or what it was exactly. It turned out to be a cookie – one of those “sort of tastes like sand” cookies that crumble and melt away easily in your mouth. From the shape and look of it, I was expecting more of a flaky pastry but looking at it up close I can see that was wrong! These are two cookies pressed together with a thin layer of buttercream between them. I thought this was just okay seeing as I’m not a huge fan of the sandy-texture cookies. It’s not terrible but won’t be my first choice in the future.
The last item – the one item that made me think, “ooo, we have to get some!” was this – the cream horn with powdered sugar on it. I haven’t seen these with powdered sugar on them before! Now, I have no idea what happened to this, all I know is I didn’t see it and couldn’t find it so I hope someone enjoyed it! I’m not mad, it just means that “oops, I guess we’ll have to go back” so I can try it “again” (or well, for the first time).
It’s a small little bakery with just a few goods but everything I tried was very fresh and delicious. I look forward to a return visit to try out a few more things!
3713 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92105