It’s 8:43 a.m. on a Saturday and despite the early hour, there are seven cars in front of La Paloma. Because the secret is out—some of the best damn Mexican cuisine and pastries in Toledo are made in this tiny eatery. Their pork tamales, available in mild or spicy, are sold by the dozen, which is a good thing because it’s impossible to eat just one. And the traditional Mexican pastries are enough to make a person swear off franchised donut shops for life.
But behind the delicious food and unassuming storefront is a story of hard work and family bonding. In the mid-’80s Jose Perez was working as a foreman in a battery factory. But according to his grandson and La Paloma manager Jonathan Ruiz, the factory closed without warning. Finding himself suddenly unemployed, Perez needed to learn a new trade. Fast.
“My grandfather had a cousin who had a bake shop. He showed him how to bake all kinds of Mexican cookies and pastries,” said Ruiz.
As Perez learned the secrets to great Mexican baking, the close-knit entrepreneurial family scrimped and saved. La Paloma opened in 1986, serving classic Latin delights such as churros and empanadas. “Thirty-two years later, we’re still here,” said Ruiz, with a laugh.
The crème and strawberry churros are everything the fabled Mexican pastry should be—hearty and crunchy on the outside, with a sweet, soft center-perfect for dipping in coffee; biscotti be damned.
Then there are the empanadas, which come in four flavors – pumpkin, apple, pineapple, and cherry. The pumpkin empanada is sweet without being overpowering; a pleasant, lingering smooth flavor that puts any fall-flavored latte to shame. The pineapple empanada features a delightfully tangy filling that tastes like a tiki drink without the rum—tropical, sweet, and completely satisfying.
What’s on the inside
La Paloma (Spanish for ‘the dove) is filled with traditional Mexican charm and culture. In one corner, there’s a painting for sale of the late Tejano-singer Selena wearing a crown, painted by the son of current owner Adalia Sanchez. A colorful display of traditional Mexican hats and blankets hang on the wall. The refrigerated cooler is packed with Jarritos Mexican sodas and – arguably the best soft drink in the world – Mexican Coke, made with real cane sugar.
On weekends, La Paloma offers grab-n-go hot food, including king size burritos for only $2.50, gorditas for $1.50 and menudo (mmmmm…tripe!) for $9.50 a quart. And yes, those famous mild or spicy pork tamales, are always available for pickup, sold by the dozen. Take flight with La Paloma. It’s worth the trip.
1244 Broadway St. | 419-243-6232.
8:30am-5pm, Saturday. 8:30am-3pm, Sunday