By:Â Cyndi Amaya
Unless you're a Harlem resident, little is known about Spanish Harlem to most New Yorkers. Known as 'El Barrio,' East Harlem is one of the largest predominantly Latino communities in New York City. Once known as Italian Harlem because of the once-predominant Italian community, it now houses a large Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Mexican population.
With such a vast Hispanic community, it's no doubt that most of the businesses and hot spots are Latin-based, with El Museo del BarrioÂ (the largest Hispanic and Caribbean museum in NYC) being one of the main institutions of the neighborhoods. As Hispanic myself, I've always been drawn to El Barrio, since I can never get enough of my culture (same reason being why I moved to Queens not so long ago).
But with so many Hispanic businesses and restaurants, where is one to go for an authentic taste of Spanish Harlem? In this series, we'll give you insight to a few Spanish Harlem favorites that seem to make everyone's lists of must-tries. We've spread out our Latin choices and we'll feature all ethnicities: Mexican, Dominican, and Puerto Rican. Our first focus today is a little Mexican bakery that has quickly become one of my favorites- Mi Mexico Lindo Bakery.
I've always been mesmerized by Mexican sweet bread. I grew up seeing it everywhere: novelas, storefront windows, and as breakfast items in no matter what Latin country I found myself in. But for fear of over-sweetness, it wasn't until recently that I finally tried it. I first experienced it in the other Mexican community in Jackson Heights, Queens and was pleasantly surprised by its subtle sweetness and quickly fell in love. With that same enthusiasm, I entered Mi Mexico Lindo Bakery a few weeks back in search for that enticing bread. Little did I know I would walk into the Mecca of Mexican baked goods to date!
The bakery is small and humble, a hole-in-the-wall to most passer-bys; but is filled with what they know best- Mexican Bread! Racks filled with different types of Pan Dulces, or sweet oval bread loaves topped with crunchy sugar; muffins; danishes; guava-filled pastries; and Orejas de Elefante, or Elephant Ears- all made fresh everyday! There is even a refrigerator full of gelatin desserts of every flavor, Flan, Tres Leches, and even milk gelatin desserts. Heaven for a sweet-tooth fanatic!
Beside the register and window in the back where you can order other salty Mexican favorites like Tortas or Tacos, there's not much else in the shop. You enter, pick up a bag or tray and tongs, pick your choices, and bring them up to the register. Not sure what to try? The friendly staff is always happy to describe each bread or pastry to help. While their charm will win you over, the flavor of their pastries is enough. It worked for me, since I've been back twice since then!
So for a taste of fresh authentic Mexican bread, check out Mi Mexico Lindo Bakery, located at 2267 2nd Avenue, between 116th Street & 117th Street in Spanish Harlem. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more Inside 'El Barrio'.
Photos: Cyndi Amaya
For more tips on where to go in Harlem, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)