I remember it as if it was yesterday when I first waltzed into Breadman Bakery in Hialeah. It was more like I shuffled in, but it was not for lack of trying.
Once a few steps, I took in the smells and sights of the place. It was a much smaller space than it is today, but I remember how well it was branded everywhere from the door handle and business card to the tables.
BRAND AWAY I SAY
It was early-ish, so while lunch was a possibility, breakfast is what I was here to eat.
If you’re a first-timer at any Cuban Bakery, then you’ll probably be spending the lion’s share of your time staring into the warming cabinet filled with Cuban finger foods and asking lots of questions.
Let me save you some time; your starter pack should look like a ham croqueta (or croquette depending where you’re from), a pastelito de guayaba (guava pastry), and an empanada de carne. Also, ask if they have a croqueta de la casa or casera. You will want the housemade croqueta if they make it.
A cafe con leche (steamed milk with espresso) should round out your first meal.
Don’t miss out on the sandwiches, though, like their pan con tortilla (omelet sandwich), which is tasty and very filling.
There is a Frita Cubana on the menu that comes inexplicably with lettuce, which pains me immensely, but I ask for the offense green to be removed along with his partner in crime the tomato.
The Supermeng with shredded beef, cheese, onions, and two fried eggs on some fluffy Cuban bread is a winner with consequences. If you can eat that in one sitting, please tell me that you won’t be driving home afterward. You should be asleep in no time flat cause there is no way you will be any good for the rest of the day. I suggest a nappy nap.
DAY ONE OBSERVATION
What’s interesting about Breadman from day one was he had a pastelito de Nutella y queso (cheese) and Cuban bread with chicharrones (pork rinds) on it. It meant to me that this fella, Breadman was trying to next level this game.
I’ve been eating at Cuban bakeries my entire life, and I couldn’t even tell you when was the last time that someone was trying to innovate. Hell, he was one of the early inspirations for Pastelito Papi.
Andy (Breadman) and his wife Jessica are the heart and soul of this place. These folks care about what they’re producing, and it shows in everything they do.
CUBAN FINGER FOODS
BREADMAN CROQUETA CAKE
I couldn’t leave you without speaking about Breadman’s Croqueta Cake.
Croquetas covering a meringue cake is the next level game I spoke about earlier.
The idea behind its creation is straightforward. Back in tha day, I’m talking the 1970s and part of the 1980s when you would attend a Cuban get together; there were little party boxes made for each kid. I’m pretty they still exist if you look around for them.
The boxes were not very big and would usually fit a piece of cake, a croqueta, and a bocadito (snack-size sandwich), amongst other delicious little ditties.
The croquetas in the box always seemed to have a little bit of that cake meringue on it inadvertently.
It would then become a thing where you’d try to almost use the cake meringue as a topping or dipping sauce for your little party size croqueta.
Flash forward to Breadman’s genius. You would have to try very hard to see the cake. And you would have to work even harder to make sure your croqueta is meringue-less.
One hundred croquetas adorn the cake, and Andy says it’s a marvel of Cuban engineering, well he’s right.
IMPORTANT INFO: Contrary to what some folks think, you’re supposed to eat the croquetas first then cut the cake.