Tag Archives: California

La Monarca: Pan dulce meets coffee in LA

One of the main things we miss since we move away from Chicago was its proliferation of amazing Mexican pandarias and their huge assortment of pan dulce – Mexican sweet breads and cookies. When we went to LA we knew we would be able to get our fix. One of our friends tipped us off to a place in particular – La Monarca, which is an upscale pan dulce (traditional Mexican sweet breads and pastries) shop with espresso drinks and light bites.  La Monarca is a small but flourishing chain of cafes with about a dozen locations in the LA Metro area – think Mexican-tinged Starbucks, but with better everything. We visited the Santa Monica location (1300 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90403). The cafe was bright and airy, and was filled with a combination of people on their laptops, students and patrons grabbing a quick coffee and pastry before work.

Once you enter, on the left is the traditional case of pan dulce – you grab a tray and a set of tongs and load up the tray with whatever you want. Of course there are conchas, orejas (palmiers) and puerquitos, but also a few more unusual options like cuernitos (croissants) filled with dulce de leche, chocolate, cream cheese or guava and dulce de leche bread pudding. You can also go a bit more savory with bollilo bread rolls, baguettes or cornbread. We selected a mini cinnamon sugar concha, a puerquito and a a dulce de leche croissant, which had been particularly recommended to us. Of course we had our eye on the drink menu, which boasted single-origin Oaxacan coffee alongside cafe de olla (hot or cold coffee brewed with brown sugar and cinnamon), Mexican hot chocolate and champurrado (a sweetened chocolate elote drink). We get champurrado whenever we can find it, so we were extremely excited!

The refrigerated case is also full of other tempting looking cakes including tres leches, flan, dulce de leche and tiramisu. For heartier appetites they have salads,  quiches, molletes (open faced sandwiches), and breakfast tacos, all with a Mexican twist including options with chorizo, huevos rancheros, chicken mole and salsa verde. We snagged an extra yogurt parfait for some protein. Everything at La Monarca was delicious (if a little pricey), and we enjoyed their modern twist on the traditional Mexican panaderia. We could definitely see ourselves becoming regulars if we lived closer!

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FiveThirtyEight Determines America’s Best Burrito

During the World Cup this summer we talked a little about 538’s International Food Association World Cup for the best national cuisine (the winner was Italy, by the way). This time around, the data-hungry minds at 538 have turned their analysis to the best burrito in America. In some ways this seemed like a potentially even more daunting task, given the vast regional differences and preferences for burritos. However, 538 was able to develop a shortlist of 64 finalists, and burrito tester Anna Maria Barry-Jester actually went from coast to coast (and Hawaii) tasting the burritos first-hand. The burritos were ranked on five parameters – Tortilla, Principal filling, Other ingredients, Appearance and Flavor profile – each out of 20, for a best possible score of 100. The results are in, and 538 has selected a winner of the coveted “best burrito” honor: La Taqueria in the Mission district of San Francisco. This was a pretty rigorous study and I commend 538’s thoroughness, for the sports/rankings geeks, check out the bracket view. Do you agree with the results?

LaTaqueria

La Taqueria in San Francisco by Todd Lappin

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