Porto’s Bakery and Cafe

Review by: Marlene Steinberg

Walking into Porto’s Bakery and Cafe, your first impression is the huge number of people standing in the lines. You enter at the corner and you get to choose: Do I go to the left lines or do I go to the right lines? It’s not really a problem because both sides of the counters are exactly the same. The lines are 3 rows deep on each side, reminiscent of lines waiting for a ride at Disneyland. Don’t worry, though. I timed it; and my wait to be served was only 10 minutes. It is an efficient setup.

Porto’s is a bakery, a cafe, and a local institution. Rosa Porto began it in Glendale, California, in 1960 because her friends and neighbors were always asking for her to make them her wonderful pastries. So she started a small bakery business at home using recipes she brought with her from her native Cuba. When the home kitchen became too small to fill her orders, Porto’s Bakery became a reality at its first location in Glendale, California.

Success was nearly instantaneous. Rosa started selling specialty coffee drinks and soon added a few savory Cuban items. When I first came upon it, a stuffed potato ball, a guava-cheese pastry, and a hot latte were my standard order. Whenever I drove to Glendale I had to visit Porto’s. And every time I visited, the building was larger. As next-door businesses closed, Porto’s acquired the leases and became the institution it is today.

What to eat at Porto’s Bakery and Cafe

You now can order freshly baked breads, rolls, cakes, and wedding cakes as well as steaks, salads, and Cuban specialty sandwiches. Sandwiches come with fried plantain chips. Even if you think you don’t like plantains, I suggest you try them. They are thin, crisp, and salty: an ideal sandwich companion.

The steak torta is especially good, made with grilled flank steak and topped with tomato, pickled onions, and avocado spread. The steak is tender enough that teeth ease through it effortlessly. The pickled onions are so good, they should be sold by the pound. The last time I visited, I had a summer special sandwich of barbecued guava pulled pork.  There was so much pork I should have purchased a second roll! I also had a Dulce De Leche Hot Latte to accompany a lemon meringue tart. The tart was a work of art in itself.

You are going to want some To Go!

I cannot walk out of Porto’s Bakery and Cafe without a couple of boxes to go. My usual fix includes cranberry and orange scones and blueberry muffins. I so love waking up in the morning knowing there is a Porto’s cranberry orange scone waiting for me.

Porto’s now has 3 generations of family working the stores. The food is as good or even better than the day Rosa began. There are 4 locations of Porto’s, all just as busy as the first, the others in Burbank, Downey, and Buena Park. Another one is currently planned for West Covina. Every time I’m at the Downey location, I hear customers wishing that Porto’s would open in their city.  Yes, people drive from all over Southern California to get their Porto’s fix.  From Northern California, too.  This is a driving state!

What To Eat

Potato Ball

Steak Torta

Guava Pulled Pork

Lemon Tart

Blueberry Muffins



Pineapple Cheese Danish


Porto’s Bakery and Cafe Recipes


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