Panaderia La Central

It’s amazing how how routines just simply lock themselves into place, and the next thing you know… you’re doing the same things over and over again. It’s been almost two years since I moved to Logan Square, and I’ve been walking to the California Blue Line stop nearly every day for work. Panaderia La Central is literally right across the street, and it’s only today that I actually went inside.

Most days, as we’re walking to the train, I mention to Liz how good it smells. Walking by, if the wind is just right, you get hit with the scent of freshly baked bread and pastries. Especially in the wintertime, it’s a warm and inviting kind of a thing.

This morning, I had a ball in my stomach. I tend to get stressed out if we’re running late, as I seem to have this thing about showing up late to work. I want to be on time, I want to ensure I’m there by 9AM – or just a little bit after, if need be. It’s a feeling that comes just from me, a stress I cause myself… and I catch myself sometimes getting worked up if we’re running behind schedule.

Today, I felt that stress as we were walking up California… and consciously decided to slow things down. The train had just come in as we were walking the street, and instead of running to try to catch it, I suggested we go inside the panaderia, just to check it out.

Inside, there were large displays of all sorts of pastries – and I barely recognized a fraction of them. It was an odd sesantion – I figured a lot of things were good, but I simply had no idea what some of the pastries were.

The whole time I was thinking to myself: “I think this is supposed to be sweet. And perhaps it’s delicious. I’m not sure though.” I guess I may have been a bit gunshy, remembering Ben’s encounter with “Salsaghetti.”

The structure of the bakery was that you walk in, grab a tray, along with a pair of tongs… and serve yourself. My original impulse was to grab things that looked familiar to me, but I’m glad I followed Liz’s example of getting something new. I was on the lookout for some kind of danish, but shifted to looking for stuff that I might not normally pick up.

Here’s what I got. I was originally excited by the guy on the right… but the center/filling ended up tasting not so great. I took a few bites, and couldn’t finish it. Where I had expected fruit, it was a bit more like biting into a lemon Starburst. It wasn’t fruity, and a bit more synthetic in taste.

The guy on the left I originally thought was going to be some big loaf of bread, but it ended up being my favorite. It was much lighter than I had expected, and there was a nice coating of sugar all over the top. It was very airy, and akin to eating a lightly fried cake.

I’m so glad we slowed things down a bit this morning, departed from our regular routine and explored a bit by going in to Panaderia La Central today. So many days, I’m fixed in work-mode, and it feels good to remind myself every once in a while to slow down.

And although it was a 50/50 split, overall I’d still say that mysterious pastries are a good thing.

Salsaghetti – Tamarind Goodness
On the Merits of Curiosity and Being A Little Extroverted
Always Ask

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. doh! was surprised to see this today bc this place is on my block. i think we are close neighbors. the delicious smell of the pastries every morning is maddening!we’ve gotten a lot of things at the bakery and it’s really hit or miss.. especially bc most of the time you don’t really know what you’re getting. my dad loves that place even though he can never understand what anything is. even when they tell him “pina” he’s like “huh?” I’m like “dad, think about it.. pina… pina colada… pineapple…. ” he insists on going every time they visit. it’s like an adventure for him.also? don’t go at night. stale!today as i walked by the bakery this homeless-ish guy who stand in the doorway came out and said “Wow! You pretty!” .. not a bad way to start the morning, even if you do consider the source :)

    rachelle Reply

  2. I wanted to go back this morning….Their prices put Starbucks to shame.

    Liz Reply

  3. Rachelle – Wow, you are close by! Liz and I are right off of the Boulevard, on Fairfield. We’re definitely close neighbors.I agree with the hit or miss part of things. There aren’t any real signs, and you’re ultimately left with trying to remember shapes and textures.Going once definitely may have been dangerous. I’m finding myself wanting to stop in more.

    avoision Reply

  4. I think everything is $0.50, so yeh.. puts starbucks to shame!

    rachelle Reply

  5. they have some tasty doughnut/cruller things that look like long fried twists of dough sprinkled with sugar. if you can find them based on that vague description, i recommend them.also, since it’s between the blue line and my apartment, i love to get a baguette there and make delicious garlic bread (or, on some particularly ambitious mornings, french toast).

    erin Reply

  6. i was wondering if the long french bread loafs are good…. i’ve seen them, but haven’t gotten one yet.

    rachelle Reply

  7. also? we need to start a logan square blog ring. not really, but we’re all in the nabe i wish I could subscribe to a bunch of logan sq blogs!

    rachelle Reply

  8. i’m getting hungry reading your blog lately. i’m curious about the drinks containers and plastic crates things.

    Anonymous Reply

  9. i am curious about what the sell just outside the door too. There was a house on Lyndale … just a bit in from the bakery.. they used to sell the same stuff there. People would all come and park in front of the house and they’d come out of the house and give it to them. One day I saw two dudes with laptops knocking on the door.. got a bad feeling. Haven’t seen them selling it at the house since. Guessing maybe no food selling license?

    rachelle Reply

  10. I’ve seen similar coolers at a few different locations (there’s a really popular spot near Milwaukee and Washtenaw, where I think maybe the same items are sold).A few years back, I happened across a vendor on Ashland, near the Jewel at Ashland/Milwaukee. The guy was selling mostly tamales and a drink called chapadurro, or somethng like that.At the time, I guess I wasn’t expecting it to be a sweet-tasting drink. And on tasting it, I had one of those reactions where I couldn’t tell whether it would be better if the drink were sweeter… or not.It’s been a few years. I should try to get adventurous again and give it another go. Although in looking back… when I started asking myself “how would this drink be better,” my answer was ” I need to stop drinking this.”

    avoision Reply

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