- Mike Hiller, Escape Hatch Dallas

 

San Martin Bakery may not have French origins, but you’d never guess that based on a peek inside their pastry case. There, tucked among the fruit-filled napoleons, buttery croissants and flaky pies, you’ll find nearly a hundred more reasons to load up your wicker shopping basket and pretend you’ve just stepped into a worm hole to Paris.

Or to Guatemala, since San Martin’s roots are firmly planted in that Latin American country. The bakery, cafe and restaurant has over 40 locations in Guatemala and 9 in El Salvador. They are well-regarded for their French-style pastries, breads, cakes and pies, plus fresh-roasted Guatemalan coffees, sandwiches and cafe-style options.

The Dallas San Martin Bakery opened a couple of days ago at 3120 McKinney Avenue. We took a sneak peek and liked what we saw -and tasted. Prices are surprisingly reasonable, too. For example, sweet buns begin at just 50 cents. Individual portions of apple strudel sell for $1.69, cream-filled eclairs are $2.49 and butter croissants are $1.49. Lovely buttercream cakes run $20-$30.

Everything is made from scratch on premises or at San Martin’s larger production bakery in the Design District. Everything looks as good as it tastes. You can purchase to go or sit down in at marble tables in the cafe to enjoy your croissant, order a glass of horchata or one of the best lattes in DFW then hang around for lunch or dinner (the cafe restaurant offers an expansive menu that ranges from pancakes and omelettes to pizzas, burgers, fresh pastas Guatemalan sandwiches and the country’s iconic shuco – a split, griddled hot dog tucked into fresh torpedo bun then topped with Guatemalan slaw, guacamole de Antigua, hot sauce and green chilies.

San Martin’s staff say first-time customers should be sure to try the ham and cheese croissant, a bundt cake made with all-natural ingredients and plenty of butter, and the classic Latin American bread roll known as pan de aqua.

San Martin Bakery’s choice to base their U.S. expansion in Uptown Dallas wasn’t haphazard. Two of the owners’ kids attended SMU, and a company rep says detailed research into income, demographics and competition led them to Uptown Dallas as the best place in America to open their first U.S. location.  (Ten more are in the works over the next couple of years for DFW, with Frisco/McKinney, Southlake and Fort Worth deep into the planning stages.)

Dallas’ Coeval Studios designed the bakery and restaurant, incorporating a living wall of ivy and ferns in the two-story alcove above the cafe, wide aisles, white marble cafe tables and plenty of ceramic owls — a Guatemalan sign of good luck, prosperity and abundance — everywhere.

Construction and permitting took nearly four years to complete, then staff training lasted an entire month, which means everybody seems to be able to assist you properly. Customers are greeted by a staff member and escorted through the bakery aisles, placing whatever breads and pastries you select into a paper-lined wicker basket that serves as your shopping cart. When you’re finished, another staff member packages everything up while a clerk tallies the bill.

I think you’re gonna like this place. San Martin Bakery is open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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