Buenos Aires Bakery & Cafe is one of those places that you can never really turn down. But you rarely make it. Blame your busy schedules, Blame its location at
71st Street and Collins Avenue. Blame the fact it's packed on weekday mornings and between 8 and 10 a.m. on weekends. Blame your carb-free diet. But mostly, blame yourself - because the only thing standing between you and the most outrageously delicious pastries, tortas, and empanadas is your belly-aching.
Little did you know, though, that the goods available at Buenos Aires Bakery are better than the ones we've sampled in Argentina.
The selection of sweets at the bake shop is overwhelming if you don't go in knowing what type of thing you're looking for. There are three major sections: empanadas, facturas, and an assortment of fruit tarts, cakes, and cookies. I walked in recently at 7 on the dot (you know, for journalism). The girl behind the counter was more than pleasant (and that was refreshing given the grumpiness we often encounter on Monday mornings). She quickly grabbed a box and asked for my picks.
Two facturas, and one empanada de pollo (say it with us, now: po-zsho) later, I was in chancho heaven (all for under five bucks).
My selection of facturas included one with cheese, and a simple sweetened one. If you're not familiar with facturas, think of a croissant-like pastry, similar to a Danish (but in my opinion, better). These were soft, chewy, and crunchy where they needed to be. The best part was that because I was the first one in the bakery this morning, I knew they were completely fresh.
How do they differ from the ones in Buenos Aires the city? They're more buttery, and more flaky. You can taste the love in them. That's not to say the facturas I had in BA weren't good. On the contrary, they were delicious, but BA Bakery's are just that much better. How is that? Surely the baking process is the same. Surely the ingredients (save a few here and there) are the same. I'm sure the ones in Argentina are made with love too! A definitive answer is impossible. Much like the myth that pizza made in New York is the best (rumor has it it's because of the tap water in the dough mixture).
BA Bakery: 1, Corner panederia in Palermo Nuevo: 0.
If you're standing at the door, with the cake coolers to your left and North Beach to your right, you'll have the empanada section at 2 o'clock. Try to get a good mental image of this because this lone section of savory pockets will be one of the best you'll ever have in the city (and beyond). To explain the deliciousness, I will start by not presenting a photo of the chicken empanada I bought this morning. Why no photo, Alex? I ate it and forgot to snap one. Embarrassing, we're all aware, but take that as a true testament of how good they are. Perfectly seasoned (identifiable) chicken, and a chewy/crunchy crust are the two magic elements to this. You can taste the garlic, you can taste the green olives, you can taste, again, the love.
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The empanadas I had in Buenos Aires were good, but not great like BA Bakery's. The only major difference I noticed in BA's city empanada (besides the taste) is that they keep the olives whole (perhaps other bakeries in Miami do too, but that's not the point). The flavors were okay; Not bad. But at BA Bakery, they are great. The empanada explodes with flavor. And for the record, the spices, olives, chicken, etc. are all minced and mixed together. I'd take an empanada from BA Bakery to one from the places I had in Argentina any day.
BA Bakery: 2, Assorted Buenos Aires panederias: 0
Our critic, Lee Klein, was dazzled by the Argentine treats found at this unassuming bakery in Mid Beach. And though we've visited BA Bakery many times in the past, it became more evident after our recent trip to Argentina, that they know how to keep us coming back.