When I moved to Dallas six years ago, I knew I would be searching for authentic Mexican foods. One thing I miss from my home in McAllen is pan dulce, pastries that are part of nearly any occasion with my Mexican-American family.
Pan dulce plays many roles at the table. It is accompanied by café in the mornings or Mexican-style hot chocolate on winter nights. It is a gift for family and friends, or offered out of courtesy when guests arrive. Truly, pan dulce is an everyday part of Hispanic culture.
Unlike my home in the Rio Grande Valley, located in the southern-most tip of Texas, which boasts several panaderias in every city, Dallas-Fort Worth has fewer Mexican bakeries -- though they’re worth the trip if you know where to go.
I went on a mission to find pan dulce that reminded me of home. Check out these panaderias in D-FW, listed in no particular order.
La Tapatia Bakery
La Tapatia Bakery in Grand Prairie became a rare Hispanic-owned business in the city when the Tejeda family moved there in 1973. Ernesto Tejeda saw the need for a panaderia for the Mexican community and started his own along with his wife, Aurora Tejeda. La Tapatia suffered an electrical fire in 2013, but it has reopened to serve the generations of customers whose favorites include bolillos (savory breads), conchas (sweet breads) and empanadas.
688 W. Pioneer Parkway, Grand Prarie.
Tia Dora’s Bakery
Although the bakery makes up the majority of the building, Tia Dora’s doubles as a restaurant selling menudo, tamales, barbacoa and taco plates. Tia Dora’s has been in business for 23 years, and yes, Tia Dora exists. Her real name is Aurora Pineda, and she was given the nickname Dora by her nephews. Currently, her sister Juana Reyes successfully leads the Tia Dora’s team. Customer favorites include conchas, cortadillos (filled pastries), cakes, empanadas and tamales. 2478 W. Illinois Ave., Dallas.
El Rio Grande
El Rio Grande is exclusive to North Texas but also abundant; it has nine locations in Dallas-Fort Worth. Unlike most panaderias, which are no-nonsense and small, El Rio Grande is a supermarket. And while the sweet breads and cakes are worth a stop, shoppers will also find a host of other Hispanic foods. (A few of their other locations even include a tortilleria, which in itself plays another major role in Hispanic culture.) Customers of many nationalities visit the Maple Avenue location to purchase sweet bread made daily. 5308 Maple Ave., Dallas.
Del Norte Bakery
Don Jose Rivas is known for the hospitality at his Del Norte Bakery in East Dallas. The bakery has been a part of the Dallas community for 15 years, and owner Rivas knows his customers by name. Here, you can find empanadas stuffed with vanilla, piña (pineapple), fresa (strawberry), manzana (apple) and cajeta (caramel). Customers also love the gingerbread pig-shaped cookies called marranitos. Rivas has expanded his successful bakery to three more locations in D-FW, in Pleasant Grove and Oak Cliff. 7726 Ferguson Road, Dallas.
Next time you are in the Bishop Arts District, stop into nearby Panaderia Vera’s. Owner Alfonso Vera got his start working for Neiman Marcus as a cake decorator. His wife motivated him to open his panaderia back in 1995, long before the adjacent section of Oak Cliff was reinvigorated into the Bishop Arts District. Many pastries are popular, including the cortadillos and campechanas, but if you’re going for just one sweet treat, don’t miss the tres leches cake. 932 W. Davis St., Dallas.