Guava has yet to make inroads in American cuisine (although the trees grow well in L.A.), but its jam is elemental in Latin American pastries. Porto’s, the 38-year-old family-owned Cuban restaurant and bakery, showcases the fruit in crescent-shaped empanadas, sugar-sprinkled turnovers, and highly touted pies. The postres deserve all the message board praise they receive, but they aren’t the only sirens here. We’re suckers for the elephant ears, their myriad layers pressed into a sweet, crunchy substantiveness, and for the luminous coquitos en almibar—Ping-Pong balls of coconut paste encased in a golden candied shell. The shortbread kisses, filled with dulce de leche, melt on impact.
Best Carrot Cake, August 2009
Who’d have thought this hippie-dippy veggie cake would still be a staple on bakery menus? Raisin-or-no-raisin debate notwithstanding, Glendale’s Porto’s Bakery
(whose version features raisins as well as walnuts and pineapple chunks) takes the, ahem, cake for moist texture and Bugs Bunny-style frosting carrots on its cream-cheesy top.