Dining Panel review: Las Tarascas a Mexican bakery worth discovering

08/22/2012 3:39 PM

08/22/2012 3:39 PM

For a long time, I’ve been a customer of Juarez Bakery at 1068 N. Waco. The wide variety of Mexican pastries and baked goods is enough to satisfy most anyone.

Wichita loves Juarez, and I love its churros. But another Mexican bakery I’ve discovered, Las Tarascas, could give Juarez some competition. It has some of the best Mexican baked goods in Wichita. It’s near Lincoln and Edgemoor and Wichita Southeast High School.

If you can get past the rough exterior of the building — a repurposed convenience store — you will find a small Mexican grocery store stocking staple items such as canned goods, cleaning supplies and candies.

But the highlight of this special store is the baked goods. The baker creates items similar to those sold at Juarez, including cookies, filled pastries, doughnuts and breads. The bakery also serves a decadent tres leches cake (three milks), and on Saturdays, you can buy homemade tamales. Everything costs between 35 cents and $3, so you can stretch your budget. On my latest visit, I purchased seven items and my tab was less than $7.50.

I sampled just about every type of baked good at Las Tarascas, which has more than 50 items to choose from. On my visit, only about two-thirds of the items were available. You never know what will be fresh and ready to eat that day.

The menu includes several highlights. For savory items, the best choice is the rollo de jamon ($1.50), ham, cheese and jalapeno rolled up into a fancy Mexican-style hot pocket. The bread is flaky and buttery and makes the proper wrapper for the creamy and spicy filling. This is a perfect breakfast-on-the-go item.

Most Mexican baked goods are less sweet than typical American pastries. To me, this is a relief. You can put down more of these treats without going into a sugar coma. The big colorful buns are called conchas and come in two sizes: one that’s 35 cents and another that’s 50 cents. They’re topped with a powdery frosting decorated to look like a conch shell and come in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. The bread is light and airy and not too filling.

I sampled the sugar doughnut (60 cents) and the Bavarian cream-filled sugar doughnut (75 cents). They were similar to American raised doughnuts but a little less sweet. The doughnuts were perfectly fried, leaving the outside golden brown and the inside light and fluffy. The sugared outside added a nice burst of sweetness, and the Bavarian filling was abundant in its cool and creamy goodness. These were great Saturday morning treats.

Las Tarascas also had more than a dozen different cookies to enjoy. I sampled a coconut-topped cookie (50 cents), which was flaky and light with a nicely toasted coconut topping. While this cookie wasn’t moist and chewy, it was delicious. I tried one the owner calls the “pig” cookie (50 cents). No worry, though. It’s in the shape of a pig, but doesn’t have any pork in it. It’s a gingerbread-colored cookie that was soft and slightly sweet and tasted slightly of banana bread. It was very enjoyable with coffee.

There are several filled pastries at Las Tarascas, too: cream cheese, pineapple and sweet potato, to name a few. I sampled the sweet potato-filled pastry. The bread was sweet like a classic yeast dinner roll, and the filling was sweetened mashed sweet potatoes. It was worth a try.

This nearly 3-year-old bakery is somewhat off the map for most of Wichita. But it shouldn’t be. The owner, Eginardo Gonzalez, is most accommodating and very appreciative of his customers.

While I had a great experience at Las Tarascas, my only wish is that they would make churros.

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