Best of 2001: Best Mexican Desserts

PanaderĂ­a NacionĂ¡l
1701 National Avenue, Barrio Logan
619-239-4043

Outside, you're near the Coronado bridge. Inside, you might just as well be in, say, San Salvador, Mazatlan, or Tijuana. It's a little dark. Behind old varnished wood and glass sliding doors sit piles of cakes -- pasteles. Emilio, grandson of Feliciano Moreno, who opened up here in 1962, says everything today is as it was 40 years ago. The postres (dessert treats), anyway. Traditional postres include barras -- bars of sweet bread flavored with egg and cinnamon and topped with thick layers of margarine and sugar -- and riels, turnovers stuffed with pineapple or apple. Called "rails" because rows of them look like railroad tracks. Or shocking-pink pastelitos, called polvorones because you press them and poof! They pulverize into red clouds.

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