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The fastest-growing part of Philadelphia’s population is Latino, and that’s good news for people who love great food.
As of the latest census, people of Latino or Hispanic heritage make up 15% of city residents, and that number is only expected to increase. Across the U.S. the Latino and Hispanic population grew 23%, to 62.1 million people, making it the second fastest-growing in the country, following the Asian population.
Philadelphia has a growing number of Mexican residents and even larger Puerto Rican and Dominican population, but you can find people — and cuisines — from all over Latin America. Some dishes are shared across cultures, like arroz con leche, but each country also has its own unique take on dessert, which means a lot of options.
Read on for places where you can try sweets from six different Latino cultures around Philly.
When her son Santiago was born, Roxanne Delle Site-Jeronimo wanted to find a way to combine her Filipina culture and her husband’s Mexican culture. She found the answer through food.
Delle Site-Jeronimo made her first conchamada last August, combining a concha, a Mexican sweet bread, with an ensaymada, a Filipino cheese pastry. Her brioche invention is filled with ube and topped with sugar.
The creation sparked a delivery business, where Delle Site-Jeronimo works alongside her husband Alfredo, a sous chef at Sampan, to create specialty boxes. Other options include milo tres leches cake, a calamansi doughnut, and a mazapan chocolate chip cookie. A box will run you about $25 to $30 depending on the flavors, and there are only 30 available each week..
Cafeteria y Panaderia Las Rosas
1712 S. 8th St. 19147 (South Philly)
6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily
Proprietor David Meneces makes all the Mexican desserts and bread sold from his cafe in house. Las Rosas is famous for its tres leches cakes, which start at $6 and can run up to $1,500 depending on the occasion — think baptism, wedding, or quinceñera.
At least 30 varieties of baked goods are made daily, Meneces said, from roscas de reyes to conchas, and the offerings include other desserts like flan, chocoflan, churros, and gelatinas. On weekends, the menu expands to include the chocolate drink champurrado, arroz con leche, and Hondouran and Mexican tamales.
3528 I St. (Harrowgate)
7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday
7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday
8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Owner Yazmin Auli translates her Puerto Rican heritage into dessert, and her creations sell out fast. Her cafe is best known for el quesito (a cream cheese puff pastry topped with a sweet glaze), pastelitos de guayaba, tres leches cake, flan, and tembleque, a coconut pudding.
El Coquí also offers traditional Puerto Rican dishes — habichuelas (rice and beans), guineo (a small plantain), and many kinds of empanadas — and baked goods, from sweet bread to regular loaves. Don’t miss the weekend soup specials: Fridays are for mondongo, made with tripe, and Saturdays bring sancocho.
Delivery is also available, via UberEats, DoorDash and Grubhub.
1647 E Passyunk Ave. (East Passyunk)
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Baker Mardhory Cepeda first opened Kouklet in 2012 in her native Brazil, where she gained renown for bolo de rolo, a sweet cake roll from the state of Pernambuco. Five years later she moved to New York, and began selling the rolls in North Jersey, Brooklyn, and Queens.
In 2019 she came to Philly, and after operating out of a commissary kitchen, she opened her own storefront at the start of February. There, Cepeda offers sonhos, Portuguese doughnuts, and cheesy pao de queijo alongside the bolo de rolo. Look for the rolls in flavors like birthday cake, orange and doce de leite, dulce de leche, passion fruit, and vegan carrot and chocolate cake roll.
Kouklet also ships nationwide on Goldbely.
5034 N. 5th St. #3835 (North Philly)
5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Friday
In 2006, husband-and-wife proprietors Maria and Jerry opened their storefront on the growing North 5th Street corridor — aka el Centro de Oro — specifically so Latinos would have a space that felt like home.
The cafe offers several dishes from Maria’s native Colombia, including pastries like buñuelos, pasteles de guayaba and arequipe, pan de bono (cheese bread), and pan de mantequilla (butter bread) plus options like arepas and Guatemalan churrasco (a combo dish with rice, benas, tortillas and salad).
La Caleñita also has smoothies, pony malta, and Colombian soda brands like Manzana and Colombiana. Don’t leave without trying the Colombian coffee.
2530 N. 2nd St. (Kensington)
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
The eponymous owner of Silvia’s Bakery is extremely proud of her Dominican tres leches cakes. She offers them for any occasion, from weddings and quinces to birthdays and baptisms. Custom orders are also welcome; she says there’s nothing she can’t make. The bakery also offers other desserts like tiramisu, chocoflan, and vanilla flan.
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