Antojitos Mi Colombia Bakery
4740 Old Pineville Rd., 704-522-1211
Antojitos is Spanish for small snacks. At this Venezuelan-run, Colombian-style bakery, small snack does not mean small taste. One must-try is the Pastel de Guayaba y Queso Cream. House-made puff pastry is wrapped around guava jam and cream cheese then sprinkled with sugar before being baked. The flaky pastry gives way to a dreamy-creamy, sweet-and-tangy interior.
This busy bakery in Park Road Shopping Center specializes in Cuban pastries and breads. Carlos Suarez is known for his puff pastry, which is made into flaky turnovers and decadent cream horns, as well as fritters and custom cakes (you can watch cakes being decorated through a large window in the bakery). Suarez may be most renowned for its huge, glazed Texas Doughnuts.
Mexican and Latin American
4405 Central Ave., Suite C, 704-568-2120
Typical Mexican and South American breads, cookies, pastries and cakes are made here, but it is the Churros con Cajeta that attracts so many Charlotteans. Cajeta means caramel in Spanish, which is usually used to dip the churros into—except at Las Delicias, where the caramel is piped inside the churro. Surprisingly, the churros are not overly sweet; they are nicely balanced, crunchy on the outside, gooey in the middle, and absolutely addictive.
Panaderia El Quetzal
925 Eastway Dr., Suite F, 704-536-9408
El Quetzal brings Guatemalan sweet breads to Charlotte, but also bakes tres leches cakes and pastries. If you are lucky enough to get there as they are placing the Vanilla Conchas (sweet, shell-shaped breads) out in the display cases, grab several—they are great with a cup of hot chocolate.
Odalys Panaderia y Pasteleria
4404 E. Independence Blvd., 704-535-8100
This takeout bakery is no-nonsense, inexpensive, and true to its Mexican roots. Odalys does quite a business in custom birthday cakes (like tres leches), but don’t miss the Taco de Queso, which is not a taco at all, but a pastry filled with sweet cheese.
This Raleigh-based store opened its sister market here in 2009. Most desserts, like the gorgeous fruit pastries and flaky Napoleons, cost a mere $1.75. One not to be missed is the Coconut Sweet Rice Cake. Rice flour is made into dough and then wrapped around a shredded coconut filling and steamed, resulting in a delicious, chewy, somewhat gelatinous treat.
Nona means grandmother in Italian, and Nona herself (Jo-Ann Morlando) does all the baking using her nona’s recipes. Nona’s daughter, Dominica Clementi, decorates cakes, while Nona’s husband, Nick Morlando, also helps out. The result is an awe-inspiring array of authentic Italian pastries, sweets, cookies, and cakes. Keep your eye out for the Sfogliatelle (translation: “many layers”), an impressive, flaky pastry filled with sweet ricotta cheese and diced orange pieces.
Tropical Bakery and Café
11100 Monroe Rd., Ste. E, Matthews, 704-846-7654
Owner Maria Costa trained to be a baker in São Paulo, “but the cooking I just learned from my mother and grandmother,” she says. Her flans are popular with Brazilians and Mexicans hankering for a taste of home, but the Bolo Prestigio will make you weak in the knees. Chocolate cake is layered with a coconut-and-condensed-milk filling and then slathered in chocolate icing. It is sold whole and by the slice.