Taquitos (little tacos), nidos (nests), piedras (stones), colorados (red ones), orejas (ears), brocas (drills), coronas (crowns). Have you ever heard of those names related to food? If not, you’re not alone, but you are missing out on the many whimsically named sweetened breads that can be found at our neighborhood’s Guatemalan and Mexican bakeries.
As a Central American, I can attest to how much we love pastries. We can have it for breakfast with a cup of coffee, for a late morning snack, and especially in the evening. Every Central American country has its own specialties.
Everyone was kind and helpful and showed me everything they had, including freshly baked items coming out of the oven and still on racks. The trays were full of fun-shaped breads covered with sugar or filled with fruit flavored jelly mixed with panela (molasses).
The prices may vary, each bun can cost between $1 and $1.50. Tamarindo has a display of Mexican sweet bread, from Marina’s Bakery in Staten Island, and small packages of hojaldras and churros from the New Jersey-based Jasmine Bakery for $1.75.
Other Guatemalan bodegas like La Chapincita (1806 Bath Ave) have a well assorted selection, xecas or shecas — baked specialties, made with anise, from the major Guatemalan city Quezaltenango — and pan de feria (bread fair).
Their low-sugar, cone-shaped buns paired with a cup of coffee in the morning can make you feel like you woke up on top of a “volcano.”
But all the names and styles can be confusing, so without further ado, here is your official guide to Guatemalan and Mexican baked goods.
Small and toasted, similar in texture to Italian breadsticks, with sesame seeds. (La Bendición Bakery)
2. More tostadas.
A variation from the above, toasted, lightly covered with sugar or sesame seeds. (La Bendición)
Filodough with a caramelized touch. If you tear it apart, you’ll get an extra pair of “ears.” (Panadería La Auténtica)
“Drills” in English. These are made out of puff pastry — twisted, with strawberry flavor inside. (Panadería La Auténtica)
“Dragon fruit”-shaped buns. (Panadería La Auténtica)
“Stone”-shaped buns. (Panadería La Auténtica)
7. Pan desabrido.
Literally translated to tasteless bread, these rolls are similar to French bread, and are hardly tasteless with a little bit of butter, black fried beans, or even scrambled eggs and sour cream. Perfect for breakfast or dinner. (La Bendición)
Hershey’s Kisses-shaped buns. Adorable. (La Bendición)
9. Gusanos y Nidos.
“Worms and nests.” (Panadería La Auténtica)
Imported from New Jersey. (Tamarindo Grocery Store)
“Shell”-shaped buns. (Panadería La Auténtica)
12. Pan de piña.
Pineapple cake. Mushy and soft. (La Bendición)
Guatemalan torrejas (Latin-style french toast) are made from these volcano-shaped buns.
“Crown”-shaped buns with sesame seeds (La Bendición). If you are in the mood to share, cut them in pieces, throw them into a small oven, and dab them with a little bit of butter or cream cheese.
While this is far from a comprehensive list of the baked goods that can be found at Central American markets in Bensonhurst and Bath Beach, we hope this guide will make your next pastry shopping experience less overwhelming. Just ask for “worms and nests” and you’ll sound like an expert!
Guatemalan and Mexican Bakeries
1729 86th Street
Panadería La Auténtica
1878 86th Street
Panadería Guatemalteca La Bendición
1962 Bath Avenue