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You Gotta Try This: Chuy's Panadería

Nancy Flores

Tucked off a cobblestone Mexico City street in one of the megalopolis' colonial neighborhoods was a tiny torta shop my husband and I often frequented for lunch while living in the capital city. Everything about that place was tiny, from the chairs to the tables that lined the narrow sidewalk. The only things that weren't minuscule were its specialty tortas.

These Mexican sandwiches, often made from crunchy crusted bolillo rolls, mostly served hot, are packed with an array of comforting flavors. But since moving back to Austin, tortas just didn't taste the same to me because the flavors often fell flat.

And then I discovered Chuy's Panadería, a Mexican-style bakery and restaurant on William Cannon in far south Austin. The original Chuy's Panadería is on Research Boulevard.

The discovery was not serendipitous. Word of their tortas' authenticity had quickly spread throughout Austin's Latino community, and especially among Mexico City natives.

With my first bite I was transported to that tiny but delicious Mexico City torta shop. More than a dozen different tortas are featured on their menu, including the torta Arabe with marinated pork and chipotle sauce. But my personal favorite is the torta Cubana with breaded steak, ham, sausage and cheese plus jalapeños, beans and chipotle mayonnaise. Don't judge; you gotta try this.

Perhaps the torta magic of Chuy's Panadería comes from the fresh bolillos baked in-house, which can also be bought separately. Before opening his own business, Jesus "Chuy" Guevara baked at the original Mandola's Italian Market and enjoys a healthy wholesale business that provides fresh bread to local eateries. Guevara started baking bread early in life at his father's bakery in Puebla, Mexico. He later studied artisan bread making at The Culinary Institute in Hyde Park, New York, and honed his skills at Houston bakeries before coming to Austin.

Although you must try their tortas, you also can't miss their Pan de Muerto (Day of the Dead) seasonal bread this fall. At their bakery, just grab some tongs and fill your tray with the many pan dulce or sweet bread varieties that line their wooden display cabinets.

Contact Nancy Flores at 912-2559.

Chuy's Panadería