The Sweet Taste of Azucar Bakery in San Diego

CINCO Leches (gluten free)

Yesterday I visited Azucar, the highly-acclaimed Cuban cafe and bakery in Ocean Beach. Just so you know how ridiculously perfect my experience was, the photo at the header of this post was my first try with my point-and-shoot. That NEVER happens–usually I go through 10 shots or more just to find something that looks decent. I would stake my life on this place being the best pastry shop in San Diego, and certainly one of the top sandwich shops in San Diego, too.

Since the name of this place literally translates to “Sugar,” in Spanish, I think it’s only fitting that I review my lunch backwards and start with dessert. Eli and I shared the Cinco Leches and it BLEW OUR MINDS. It was a brilliant take on the classic Tres Leches cake; this gluten-free version featured an almond-based cake as well as candied almond slivers, which were oddly reminiscent (in a good way) of Special K Vanilla Almond Cereal. What put it over the top was the indulgent caramel glaze, which had just a hint of coconut milk to give it a tropical touch.

The Cubano

For lunch, I enjoyed a delicious Cubano pressed sandwich. Apart from the standard sliced ham, Swiss, pickles, and mustard, there was a meaty, slightly peppery layer of Cuban roast pork to send my taste buds to Heaven. It also came with a mound of plantain chips and a small cup of house-made mojo sauce to dip on the side–the light garlic and citrus flavor of the mojo was the perfect, refreshing balance to the salty chips.

Eli ordered an equally appetizing Havana sandwich–think Thanksgiving style turkey sandwich, but with guava paste instead of cranberry sauce. When he absolutely loves something, he adopts an over-my-dead-body approach to sharing, so I wasn’t surprised when my attempts to try a bite of his sandwich were rebuffed.

Artemisa Cake

Because neither of us are entirely selfish, we did get a small cake to go and brought it home so our parents and Nick could try it out. The Artemisa cake was covered by thin, lightly toasted coconut, and featured two layers of rum cake with rum-soaked pineapple chunks and coconut cream. Despite being no bigger than your fist, it’s a knockout punch of a dessert, and I’m glad we split it 5 ways.

Overall, Azucar was not only delicious, but considering that the sandwiches were only $7.50 each and our desserts were $6 a pop, it was also tremendously good value for money. The next time I have a sugar rush I know exactly where I’m going.

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