A bolillo stuffed with cheese and diced jalapeño
3803 32nd Street, San Diego
Years living around Golden Hill has gotten me familiar with Panchita’s Bakery. I knew the Mexican bakery had a couple of other locations around town, so when I noticed a new one open in North Park I assumed it was more of the same. Then I spotted the banner advertising tacos. What?
This one is called Panchita’s Kitchen & Bakery. Note the kitchen comes first. This isn’t really a bakery. It’s a little taco shop that happens to carry some of the city’s most enjoyable pan dulce.
This Panchita’s has a drive-through, so you can get pan dulce on the go and maybe a few empanadas while you’re at it.
The usual ritual at Panchita’s bakery is to grab a tray and a pair of tongs and pluck what you like from shelves stacked high with cookies, donuts, pastries, and other sweet breads. The North Park location has most of the same stuff sitting on shelves behind the counter, so ordering means having to finally learn all the names for the 30-plus baked goods.
Take away all those pastries and rolls, and this is an above-average take on any casual Mexican joint in the city. It has dining tables. It even has a drive-through. But the bakery component does give it a nice edge on most taco shops. Breakfast options start with pancakes, and while there are definitely breakfast burritos, there is also oatmeal and a yogurt parfait with berries and granola. And where you’ll find several sweet, fruit-jam filled empanadas at a Panchita’s bakery, here in Panchita’s kitchen you’re more likely to find savory fillings including chorizo, chicken pesto, and the house signature ground beef, raisin, and eggs.
As much as I’ve wound up enjoying the tacos and burritos, my reason for visiting the place still tends to be the baked goods. Some are made on site, but a lot are driven over from one of its sister bakeries. I tend to zero in on the bolillo with cheese and jalapeño. The soft, hollow, sesame encrusted rolls give stuffed croissants a run for their money. The cheese inside changes, and if you’re lucky it’ll be a cream cheese day.
If not, who cares? Hit this drive-through with an empty stomach, and you’ll have no trouble racking up a list of treats to take home. Which is usually what happens when I visit the bakery as well.