The Mexican panadería is a communal hub that offers working-class culinary treats of traditional pan dulces (sweet breads), along with fresh-brewed coffee, hot chocolate, or fruit juices. The baked goods get the day started and serve as dessert at dinnertime. La Favorita has been around the Fruitvale close to five years and serves a large and diverse selection of conchas (seashell-shaped breads with sugar ridges), empanadas (jellied fruit- or pumpkin-filled turnovers), galletas (cookies), and maranitos (gingerbread pigs). They also sell birthday cakes and made-to-order layer cakes for weddings or quinceañeras. In most cases these cholesterol-rich pastries are still made with lard, so this is no place for dieters. But to be there at 8 to 9 a.m. when they are pulling the goodies out of the ovens -- the smell alone is worth the visit.
Two Oakland locations: 3355 Foothill Blvd., 510-536-0661;
3908 International Blvd., 510-533-5733