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George Martinez

Gilbert's Bakery

George Martinez
Gilbert's Bakery has all the telltale signs of a neighborhood Cuban pastelería: three-tier cakes with shiny meringue curlicues displayed in the window, patrons bustling with cafecitos in hand, and plump white loaves of Cuban bread poking out of woven baskets like curious onlookers. Though you'll find staples such as pastelitos (90 cents each) and croquetas (80 cents each), the main draw of this 30-year-old bakery chain is creative execution. Alongside usual flavors such as guava and cheese are pastry fillings like apple, coconut, spinach, asparagus, and bacalao. Typical deli fare is upgraded to quiches stuffed with French cheeses and Spanish chorizo ($2.50), small bocadito sandwiches slathered in roasted red pepper spread ($1.10), and petite medianoche sandwiches served tapas-style ($1.10). And at a massive six inches, the Cuban crackers ($2.14 for a half-dozen) look like they survived a radioactive explosion but taste like salty, lardy perfection. There's also an extensive catering menu with inventive items such as salmon flan ($60, serves 25) and more than 20 specialty cake options. The concept of old-world Havana bakery shop meets gourmet deli seems to hit the spot - there's hardly a moment when patrons en route to work or a gigantic family aren't huddled around the counters waiting for their number to be called.

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