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Guatemalan bakery-cafe opens first U.S. outpost in Uptown Dallas

Guatemalan bakery-cafe opens first U.S. outpost in Uptown Dallas

San Martin Bakery
Bread is the foundation. Photo courtesy of San Martin

A bakery and restaurant chain from Guatemala is making its entry into the United States market, with a first location set to open in Dallas in 2018.

Called San Martín Bakery, the bakery-restaurant will open its first location outside of Central America in Dallas' trendy Uptown neighborhood, where it will offer European-styled baked goods including sourdough breads, croissants, and other puff pastries, along with a cozy cafe open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Manager Gabriel Castillo says they're aiming to open by mid- to late-summer.

San Martin Bakery was founded in 1974, and operates nearly 40 locations across Guatemala and El Salvador. Although they are a chain, they pride themselves on keeping each location unique.

Their menu includes burgers, sandwiches, wraps, and pastas. 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.

"We have some things that will be new to the U.S.," Castillo says. "We do croissants filled with Nutella, we do a salty beef-filled croissant, we do croissants with chicken, different empanadas, and a pastry filled with guyabana and cream cheese."

Their bread situation is serious.

"The restaurant specializes in rustic pizza since we are bread makers, that's how we grew," he says. "Our breads are amazing, the crust and the dough are different from most of what you find in Dallas. We use a starter and ferment our dough for 48 hours. We observe European standards that we apply to our Latin cuisine."

There is also breakfast, and that means breakfast quesadillas, pupusas topped with sunny-side eggs, chilaquiles, eggs with fried plantains, benedicts, omelets, pancakes topped with Nutella, oatmeal, and French toast. The breakfast menu looks divine.

There's also beer, wine, and sangria, and smoothies made with yogurt.

The Dallas location will open at 3120 McKinney Ave., an address that was previously home to the McKinney Avenue Contemporary gallery, which departed Uptown in 2015. San Martin rebuilt from the ground up, a process beset by delays in design and construction, but one that the owners were determined to get right.

"We had many challenges in the build-out, but we focused on the end goal, which was that this had to be a perfect introduction of our concept in the United States," Castillo says.

The location will be 8,000 square feet, and will feature a San Martin trademark: a "live garden," AKA a lush wall covered with plants.

Castillo's brother attended Southern Methodist University which is what first put Dallas on their radar. But they soon saw that the city had other strengths as the location of their first foray into America.

"The people in Dallas are friendly and open to new things," Castillo says. "The city is also familiar with Latin American food in a way that other cities are not. And it's well known as a place where people dine out."

Given the dominant role that Guatemala plays as a major coffee grower, they are rightfully proud of their coffee.

"Guatemala has the best coffee in the world, and we work directly with farmers and roast our own beans," Castillo says. "We're changing the way farmers live. They used to export all of their coffee around the world. But we set up our roaster in Guatemala and started buying coffee and helped change the culture of coffee there. People who live in Guatemala can now enjoy the best coffees of Guatemala in our stores, and that used to be unheard of."