Editor's note: Every week, we'll spotlight a culinary treat found around Dallas-Fort Worth — whether it's a new opening, a dish at a restaurant, or a grocery find.
Dish: Apple filled croissant, $2.50
Location: San Martin Bakery, 3120 McKinney Ave.
San Martin Bakery is a chain from Guatemala with 40 locations across Central America. It's kind of a big deal. They opened their first restaurant in the United States here in Dallas in December 2018.
Located at the former McKinney Avenue Contemporary space (although in a completely new building), they offer European-styled baked goods including sourdough breads, croissants, and other pastries, along with a cozy cafe open for breakfast, lunch, and early dinner.
It's a massive, bright, modern space that features a San Martin trademark: a lush wall covered with plants.
Lots of options
The menu includes burgers, sandwiches, wraps, and pastas. Their top seller at lunch: a Mandarin chicken salad. There is soup served in a round boule loaf; salads; queso; sandwiches on ciabatta bread, and sub sandwiches on long baguettes. There are rustic pizzas, baked in a stone oven.
There is also breakfast: breakfast quesadillas, pupusas topped with sunny-side eggs, chilaquiles, eggs with fried plantains, benedicts, omelets, pancakes topped with Nutella, oatmeal, and French toast. There's also beer, wine, and sangria.
They serve that breakfast until a leisurely noon on weekdays, until 1 pm on Saturdays, and until 3 pm on Sundays.
When you walk in, there's a foyer that's so big, it's almost funny. The cafe is to your right, and the bakery is to your left. Their approach is like a Mexican bakery where you take a pair of tongs and a nice cloth-lined basket and help yourself from racks and racks of pastries.
They do croissants filled with Nutella, chicken, and salty beef. They do empanadas, and a pastry filled with guyabana and cream cheese. Their breads are made using a starter, and the dough is fermented for 48 hours. They have crusty loaves of bread and crusty little rolls in white and wheat.
The shortcomings of the Dallas diner
The only thing they don't have is massive crowds, and this is confusing, because pretty much everything they do is cool.
One liability is that they're set back from the street. Dallas diners can be myopic — if it's not right in front of them with a pull-up driveway, they just don't see it. If you don't know that San Martin is there, you would not see it as you cruise McKinney Avenue.
San Martin is also a new concept that's unfamiliar. It was not created by Fox Restaurant Concepts or Nick Badovinus. This can be scary.
Such a deal
The thing is, their pastries are not just good, they're insanely cheap. I got:
- 1 dinner roll
- 1 wheat roll
- 1 plain croissant
- 1 apple croissant
- 1 apple-filled cigar-shaped pastry
and the price was $8.38.
The plain croissant was large and puffy, skillfully made, buttery, and crisp.
The apple-filled pastry was shaped like a cylindrical shell, with the emphasis on the crispness of the pastry, and the filling just a sweet note. The rolls were great, too — crisp exterior with a nice tang, very European, which is hard to find around town.
Saving best for last: The apple croissant was unlike any other croissant you'll find in Dallas. Just on the filling alone, you see croissants with chocolate and almond, but apple is rare, and that's true anywhere. Filling aside, it was flaky like you want a croissant to be, with a soft, jammy, cinnamon-and-apple filling, like what you'd get in an apple pie. I got it while it was still warm, and it was one of the best pastries in town. And it was $2.50.