Porto’s Bakery, a true family-owned business, has been an institution in Burbank and Glendale for many years, outgrowing several smaller locations over the years. The brand-newest Porto’s Bakery opened in 2010 in Downey. Serving the savory and sweet recipes of family matriarch Rosa Porto, this popular Cuban Bakery is known for their authentic cuisine and their out-the-door lines of hungry, loyal customers. We visited on a recent Saturday evening, about two hours ‘til closing time and were surprised that the line was about 40 deep! And there were several other lines going for ordering cakes and coffee drinks. The guy in line ahead of us said that was nothing, the lunch time crowd is out the door and around the block. The last time I dined there was for breakfast, and that was a crazy wait and a mad dash for a table, so for some reason I thought their dinner crowd would be more mellow. I was wrong. There are so many tempting menu options from the potato balls to the empanadas to the meat pies. But Matt and I got two different sandwiches to share. He ordered the Torta de Pollo which included chicken breast, black bean spread, goat cheese, red onion, lettuce and tomato on a round of French bread. I opted for a traditional Cubano sandwich: slow roasted pork, ham, Swiss cheese, butter, mayo, mustard and pickles on Cuban bread.
Both of these sandwiches hit the spot. The bread was both soft and crunchy, and held the flavorful ingredients together nicely. But it was the Mariquitas, the lightly salted homemade plantain chips that were the real highlight of the meal. I ate mine, and some of Matt’s too. Still thinking about them a day later, I should have ordered a side of them to enjoy today too. Plantains are a member of the banana family, and they are prepared a variety of ways. There are the fried, soft, sweet plantains that are made with overly ripe bananas. Then there are Tostones, also known as Patacones, which are my personal favorite. They are made with a green, very firm plantain, sliced, flattened into rounds, fried and served with a black bean or garlic dip. Porto’s Mariquitas were more like a potato chip, and offered as a side with our sandwiches. They were perfect, delightful, salty, crunchy bites. Washed down with a refreshing Inca Kola that tasted like pineapple, this was a fabulous dinner and very affordable too. I am declaring my dinner at Porto’s Bakery my best bite of the week!
By Trish Procetto