Panaderia Azteca Mexico #2 on North McCarran Boulevard in Sparks is so much more than a bakery. Few places in town have such fine selections available during breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Don’t panic if you forgot the gallon of milk, coffee, or piñata during your last grocery store trip. Guillermo Segura, owner of Panaderia Azteca Mexico #2, has all three as well as exceptional baked goods, prepared masa for tortillas and tamales, tortas, tamales, burritos, tacos, fresh bolillos, convenience store snacks, fresh flan, Pastel 3 Leches, and more.
Pan is Spanish for bread. Panadería is Spanish for bakery. It’s not my goal to patronize readers with grade-school language lessons, but I think people take it for granted that entering a cultural environment that you didn’t grow up in can be uncomfortable.
Entering a Mexican bakery when you don’t speak any Spanish can be unnerving, but allowing a language barrier or a particular set of politics to prevent you from eating delicious food is a waste.
Buenos días means good morning. Buenas tardes means good afternoon. Buenas noches means good evening or goodnight. A friendly greeting in English, Spanish, or otherwise is a respectful way to enter any eatery. Let me say, too, that Segura speaks English and Spanish. It’s my opinion that local businesses value customers of all types, so why not break away from your standard doughnut, bagel, and muffin routine?
When asked, Segura confirmed that Panaderia Azteca Mexico #2 is similar to a panadería one would find in México. In the pastry section of the bakery grab yourself some tongs and place your pastries on a red tray. Pay at the register.
I asked Segura where he learned to cook. He advised that a gentleman who cooks for another local eatery, Taqueria La Michoacana, does much of the cooking for Panaderia Azteca Mexico #2. I enjoyed everything I ate, and I ate everything – or seemingly so.
- “Elongated Cake”: I’m not sure of the specific name for this baked good. Some of the pastries are labeled and some are not. The flavor reminds me a bit of angel-food cake, but less dense and moister. There is a little bit of granulated sugar sprinkled on top. Excellent cake doesn’t require a slathering of frosting. This excellent cake is especially tasty for those who don’t normally go for cake, myself included.
- “Cheesecake”: Here, too, I’m not sure of the name of the baked good. Segura had many customers to serve, so I thought I’d get the name the next time in. If I had to guess, it’s Pay de Queso. Whether it’s technically a torte, cake, or custard pie, I’m uncertain. The semi-sweet custard-esque part sits atop a light cakey crust. The rear and top of the dish have a welcome toasted flavor that helps cut the sweetness. It’s exceptional with coffee.
- Crème Horn: The pastry itself has a great crunch. The crème inside is smooth and thick. A dusting of confectioners’ sugar atop completes another great pastry. This one is also fantastic with coffee.
- Bolillo con Jalapeño: The bolillo, Spanish for roll, was fresh and well-baked. Inside you’ll find cream cheese and jalapeños. The crunch and sweet heat from the ripe and unripe jalapeños contrast well against the rich cream cheese. Savory breakfast lovers should give this one a try.
Queso con Jalapeño Tamale: The melted cheese, I’m not sure the type, gives this moist tamale a great chew. The jalapeño provides the classic chile flavor with little heat. I ate mine with extra hot Valentina hot sauce.
- Puerco Chili Verde Tamale: Tender pork stewed with green chiles and spices makes this moist tamale delectable. Here, too, I dialed up the heat with some hot sauce.
- #5 Torta: Every torta comes standard on a fresh bolillo with sour cream, cabbage, tomato, onion, and jalapeños. The #5 in particular also comes with carnitas (braised pork), cheese, and avocado. My guess on the cheese is queso fresco, but I’m not sure. The pickled jalapeño added a welcome tanginess. The ingredients created a tasty sandwich with pleasingly varied textures.
People solely eating within their cultural norm is a pandemic. Pandemonium will not ensue if you venture outside your culinary comfort zone. In fact, trying new foods from unfamiliar cultures might just be the panacea this country needs. Please direct your pun condemnations to the comments section.
Visit Panaderia Azteca Mexico #2 at 780 N. McCarran Blvd. in Sparks or their other location at 2145 Sutro St. #6 in Reno. Both locations operate 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends. Call the McCarran location at 775-358-1606 or the Sutro location at 775-322-2246 for a made-to-order Pastel 3 Leches (tres leches cake). The two locations share a website at panaderiaaztecamexico.com.