THE PLACE: At Las Palomas, you don’t have to choose. You can drop by for a taco filled with roasty carnitas. You can grab from the bakery case sweet-bread conchas mantled with pink sugar . Or you can do both.
Las Palomas occupies a storefront on South Wells Avenue just south of Cheney Street, but similar taco-bakery combos — a taqueria y panaderia — can be found in Mexican neighborhoods everywhere.
THE LOOK: Las Palomas has an easy, cheery feel. It’s clearly family owned, with three bakery cases at one end; a rack of Latino snacks in crinkly packages; refrigerator cases hawking milk, tamales and Jarritos in long-neck bottles; and, hanging overhead, a conga line of brightly colored foil piñatas.
LAS PALOMAS TAQUERIA BAKERY
Address: 814 S. Wells Ave.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Monday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday
On the Web:www.facebook.com/laspalomasreno
What’s $10 or less: Everything
Tables are arranged down the middle of Las Palomas; the order counter lies just beyond. To help you decide, food shots with prices are helpfully arranged above the pass-through window to the bakery and kitchen.
THE MEAL: Some fellas are enchilada guys; I’m a torta man. Or, to be exact, a Mexican-style torta man. Before a recent lunch visit, I hear Las Palomas has outstanding tortas.
And because the hardest thing to get right about a torta is the oblong bread — it must be at once crusty and yielding — what better place to order a this sandwich than a Mexican bakery?
A torta lined with pastor taco meat, avocado and onion doesn’t disappoint, the bread sturdy enough to contain the fillings but soft enough it almost doesn’t.
My friend, who once frequented Las Palomas for pastries but has never tried the taqueria side, chooses a trio of housemade pupusas: cheese, pork and loroco (a Central American vegetable).
The pupusas arrive hot from the grill, accompanied by their traditional adjutants: a thin salsa roja and curtido cabbage slaw.
My companion and I share a small stack of the restaurant’s housemade corn tortillas. They’re warm and slightly thick, and we tear off chunks to smear with crema or dip in tart-smoky salsa made with chiles japones (similar to chile de arbol).
We also share — well, more nibble in advance of leftovers — a huge flour tortilla quesadilla stuffed with shredded roast chicken and crunchy bits of skin.
KUDOS: The owners are friendly. The food is hot, homemade and tastes like it should. And dessert is only a few steps away.
QUIBBLES: Not a quibble but diners should take note: After a meal, how are you going to make it out of Las Palomas without at least one pastry? The cases sit patiently, aware of their appeal.
ALTERNATIVES: Three tacos made with homemade tortillas, a burrito, tostadas, chiles rellenos or enchiladas with slaw.
Las Palomas also has weekly specials; the week of my visit, pupusas are $1 on Monday, three gorditas are $6 on Tuesday, and chicken enchiladas are $1 on Thursday.
RETURN TRIP?: Show me the torta!