La Monarca

Best Bakery, February 2013

You know the routine: Grab a round metal tray and a set of tongs, and load up on as much pan dulce as you can carry to the register. The Mexican bakery chain La Monarca has expanded beyond its original Huntington Park location and opened shops in Santa Monica and, as of December, South Pasadena. The vibe is spiffier than at your corner panaderia, but the seashell-like vanilla conchas, guava-and-cream cheese croissants, and torta-ready bolillos taste of owners Ricardo Cervantes and Alfredo Livas’s native Monterrey, Mexico. We pray for reasons to indulge in the giant tres leches cake (c’mon, whose birthday is it?); the slippery-sweet caramel flan doesn’t require an occasion.