Review by: Ant George

There’s something about deep fried dough that unites us as a people. Be it beignets or funnel cake, bhaturas or to  the humble doughnut, fried dough, both sweet and savory, is a simple joy  found across nearly every culture in the world.

In California, with our heavy Spanish and Mexican influence, the churro is king. And while a wide selection of restaurants offer the cinnamon- coated tube of deliciousness as a dessert option, only the Churrerias seem to get it just right. And Azucanela is by far one of the best out there.

With three locations across the greater Los Angeles area, two in Long Beach and one in the little town of Azusa, CA, the dream shop of founders Eduardo leiva and Julio Lopez serves up seasonal fares and delightful standards of a churreria; delicious churros and a wide selection of coffee drinks.

The Azusa location is the one we visited for this outing. Located off of historic Route 66 (known as East Foothill Blvd in Azusa), the shop is as quaint as the town of Azusa itself – teal and orange with plentiful shade and that cool mountain breeze that accompanies southern California spring days. Both street parking and a little parking lot behind the shop make it easily accessible; outdoor and indoor seating options are available and it appears they are pet friendly as well.

The staff member, Albuerto, was knowledgeable and as warm and friendly as the churros themselves. Beyond the churros, he recommended we try the Azucanela Butter Cake and the Horchata frappe. A regular hot coffee with just a splash of cream was also ordered to act as a counterpoint for the sweetness ahead.

What to eat at Azucanela Restaurant in Azusa, CA

The churro (3 good sized pieces accompanied by a caramel dipping sauce) immediately brought back memories of standing in Frontierland, waiting for a parade with my mother and siblings. But unlike Uncle Walt’s concoction, this was less an elongated doughnut and more like a proper churro; the dough both dense and crisp with an incredible chew. There was a good balance of cinnamon and sugar – not too heavy on either one, and the flavors of the dough shined through. The caramel sauce was a fine enough accompaniment but the raspberry dip that Albuerto recommended was stellar. Normally not a fan of raspberry flavored things, this was the right amount of tartness to compliment the rich dough.

The Azcanela Butter Cake was a show stealer – accompanied by soft vanilla ice cream and a seasonal fruit sauce (strawberries this time), it was a dreamy combination of a warm, dense cake with an almost creme brulee top and the creamy vanilla and tart strawberries. If you go to Azucanela for nothing else, be sure to try this. Albuerto informed us that their offerings with the cake are seasonal, changing about every 6 months; we had arrived on the last day of strawberry and more summer-like flavors were slated to arrive soon.

The Horchata frappe was a unique offering. Very bold and sweet, though not too strong on the cinnamon flavors usually accompanying a horchata. The frappe also used dairy, which is not the standard but it was delicious. This would be refreshing on a very hot summer day, or accompanied with one of Azucanela’s savory dishes (ones that we did not try on this trip).

The coffee, a Nicaraguan blend from an unknown provider, was a great counterbalance to the sugary confections. A good, though not too strong, cup of coffee that would be welcomed in any roadside diner.

Whether you are seeking a nice morning breakfast or a midafternoon dessert, you can’t go wrong with the fabulous offerings here. An absolute pleasant surprise nestled in the cozy mountain town along Route 66, Azucanela is absolutely worth a try, and worthy of a future return as well.

What To Eat

Horchata Frappe

Churros with Caramel Sauce

Butter Cake


Azucanela Recipes


What do you think of Azucanela?

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