Leon Bakery Expands Their Menu Post Rennovation
Good news for Midtown West lunchers in search of reasonably authentic Mexican (well, more authentic than Blockheads at least). Late last year, we noticed that Leon Bakery, which served some pretty good tamales was in the midst of renovating. And a recent tweet by our buddy, Bionic Bites, confirms that the renovations has brought an expanded menu, including tacos, tortas, and sopes.
Following a similar formula as Tehuitzingo, Leon Bakery has a small grocery section up front dedicated to latin dry goods and a smaller selection of wet goods. Mexican pastries sit in covered cubby holes, and slices of cake wilt in a refrigerated display case. In the back, there’s full line-up hot food items available for take-out and delivery. And while the menu (link to photo) has questionably authentic items, swaying slightly towards Tex-Mex influences, there are still plenty of appealing dishes, all within the ML price range. Certainly something worth an exploratory visit.
I’ll not claim to be any sort of expert on Mexican food, so I can only compare Leon Bakery’s tamales ($1.50) to the versions I’ve tried in Jackson Heights, such as the amazing tamales Guadalupe served at the last Vendy Awards. A spicy chicken tamale brought a laudable amount of spice and chicken-y interior, although it included a few slivers of chicken bone as an unexpected surprise. The masa exterior wasn’t as sweet or steamy as my bench mark tamales, but at $1.50, one can’t be extra-ordinarily picky, for these are one of the cheapest fill-ups you’ll find in this area.
On the other hand, the huaraches ($7.95) were having an off-day during my visit. With the admitted immaturity of my Mexican palate, my sole benchmark huarache are those served by The Martinez Country Boys, which are the single reason why every single gastro-tourist food nerd needs to get themselves out to the Red Hook ball fields this summer. While The Country Boys huarache is a fantastic interplay of flavor and texture, Leon Bakery’s refried bean lined tortillas were greasy, dried out, and flavorless. And I wished that a bit more care was put into the veduras – wan lettuce and un-ripe avocado were pushed off to the side in search of something more appealing.
Instead of the huarache, I’d recommend sticking to the cemitas ($7), a busy mess of food, but proof (if any was ever needed), that countries south of the US border have achieved a level sandwich mastery unto their own. Indeed, this sandwich layers your choice of protein along with the diet busting pleasures of refried beans, quesillo, avocado and pickled chipotle peppers. A thing of hangover curing beauty, smushed between a sesame bun.
Although this review was based off of a single visit (I’ll certainly be re-visiting frequently and filing amendments if necessary), there will be obvious comparisons drawn to Tehutzingo, just an avenue away. I’ll admit, that based on this experience, I didn’t get the same sense of exhilaration and pop of flavors that I’ve experienced at Tehuitzingo. Leon Bakery may be an avenue closer to the heart of Midtown, but it seems that their food falls just short as well.
The + (What somebody who likes this would say)
- The $7 cemita is definitely worth an out-of-bounds trip and the $1.50 tamales are cheap and very filling
- It’s an avenue closer than the awesome 10th Ave Mexican joints (Tehuitzingo and La Rosita)
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- The tamales and huaraches aren’t exactly the best we’ve ever had
- Why settle for less? Tehuitzingo and La Rosita are only one more avenue away
Leon Bakery (menu) , 695 9th Ave (between 47th St & 48th St) ; 212-489-6677