Porto’s Bakery & Café in Buena Park, California

Food & Drink

At Saturday lunchtime, Porto’s Bakery & Café in Buena Park, California, bustled with activity. Bright yellow bags trimmed with brown letters, declaring “from our family to yours,” flew out of the store on the arms of hungry diners. Some carried as many as three bags on one arm. In contrast, others had a single larger bag, an apparently heavier cargo, most likely a celebratory cake for a birthday or anniversary party. The number of bags leaving the store gave the impression that Porto’s was carry-out only, but that wasn’t the case.

While some saw the long lines and turned away, they shouldn’t have. Although the lines appeared daunting and somewhat chaotic at first glance, they moved quickly and smoothly. I placed my order in approximately five minutes—slightly less than it took them to return to the car and leave the parking lot.

Thank you to Visit Buena Park for hosting my visit.

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A cordoned-off lane made sense of the line, while an employee at the entrance served as a traffic cop, directing customers inside to the bakery or café line—whichever line was shorter. Since this was my first visit to Porto’s Bakery and Café, I followed directions and asked questions. Directed to the bakery, I joined another lane until I reached the front of the line. With several employees working the counter, I waited until one raised their hand, indicating they were ready for the next person in line. While they only have counter service, you could place your order, pay, and take a number to your seat, where your order appeared quickly. They even found you sitting outside with their efficient tracking system.

Exterior of Porto's in Buena Park
Porto’s in Buena Park

Bakery

Porto’s has Cuban roots, so you’ll find many Cuban-inspired items on the menu. They have beautiful cakes like tres leches, dulce de leche, and Rosa Porto’s pineapple Cuban cake. But this popular bakery also has many baked goods from other regions that will make a sweet impact on your meal. Another Cuban option is the guava cheese strudel.

Pumpkin Danish at Porto's in Buena Park
Pumpkin Danish at Porto’s in Buena Park

Some items are seasonal guest favorites. For example, when I visited, the pumpkin flavors had emerged to welcome fall with all of the accompanying pumpkin pie spices. It was a tough choice between the slice of creamy fall-spiced cheesecake and selections like pumpkin seed streusel and moist pumpkin spice muffins. Something I’d never seen before was a pumpkin Danish garnished with pepitas. That was my preference, and the center reminded me of pumpkin pie, while the outside was a traditional Danish. As fall morphs into winter and spring, you’ll find the options rotate to bring you just what you’re craving in that season.

A Slice of Carrot Cake
Carrot Cake

Café at Porto’s in Buena Park

The café is open for three meals daily from early morning until around 8:00 p.m. While the restaurant is a natural choice for breakfast or a cup of coffee, don’t discount it for lunch or dinner. We went for lunch, and I was so glad I did.

Black Bean Soup at Porto's in Buena Park
Black Bean Soup at Porto’s

I love black bean soup, and Porto’s didn’t disappoint. It was on the thicker side and served with a slice of bread. It can be a vegan option if you request it without the cotija cheese.

Ham and Cheese Croissant and a Potato Ball
Ham and Cheese Croissant and a Potato Ball

Mr. Follow the Piper had a ham and cheese croissant; if you want something similar but a bit more robust, order the ham and cheese croissant sandwich. It is larger and has lettuce and tomato. The ham and cheese croissant is a good choice for breakfast, and the sandwich is a solid lunch pick. They make their traditional croissants with European-style butter.

If you like arroz con pollo, try the plato de pollo, a grilled citrus chicken breast. The chicken is skin-on, marinated, grilled, and flavorful, served with cilantro salsa. The salsa combines herbs, citrus, crushed red pepper, and a bit of avocado. They serve the dish with Cuban-style black beans, jasmine rice, and maduros—sweet fried plantains.   It is available after 10 a.m., so it makes a hearty lunch or dinner. Other Cuban favorites are the plato de ropa vieja and the plato de lechon.

Coffee Bar at Porto's
Coffee Bar at Porto’s

Coffee Bar

If you’re looking for a coffee shop atmosphere, the Porto family will fit that, too. In addition to the traditional lattes, espressos, and cappuccinos, they offer freshly brewed organic matcha green tea. If you’re looking for something with a Cuban flair, try the Porto family recipe for a cortadito – an espresso sweetened with condensed milk, then topped with creamy steamed milk foam.

Porto’s Bakery & Café History

Born in Cuba, Rosa grew up in a family who loved to bake. Scents of warm spices and vanilla filled the kitchen, where her family baked multi-generational recipes from Spain’s Galicia region. After Rosa and her husband, Raul, Sr., petitioned to leave Cuba, she needed a job to support her family. She began baking cakes and selling them to family and friends out of her house.

After immigrating to the United States with only the clothes they wore, she once again started selling cakes to her family and friends again. Raul found work in another bakery. It wasn’t long before lines formed outside her home, with people wanting to buy her cakes. She opened her first storefront in 1976. Eventually, Raul joined their bakery business. Today, the Porto’s three children are carrying on Rosa’s legacy.

What to Order at Porto’s in Buena Park?

Before ordering, I always try to determine what a restaurant is known for. At Porto’s, it’s the signature potato ball. They are famous for their potato balls. Fried like a traditional croquette but stuffed with various fillings, these exceeded my expectations. I had only ordered one to try it, but I was sorry I hadn’t ordered more. They were just that good! I had the one stuffed with ground beef and peppers, but they even have a turkey and gravy potato ball in autumn to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.

Cuban Sandwich with Fried Plantains at Porto's
Cuban Sandwich with Fried Plantains

The Cuban torta or sandwich is a local favorite. They spread the bread with mustard, then stack on some succulent slow-roasted pork and ham topped with melted cheese and pickles.

Online Orders from Port’s in Buena Park

Piper’s Pro Planning: In addition to ordering in the store, you can order online for pickup, or fortunately for me, as I live over 3,000 miles away, you can order from their “Bake at Home” service. It’s good to know I don’t have to wait until my next visit to Buena Park for those tasty potato balls or sweet treats. If you want to try them too, you can order them here. I was relieved to see this as I don’t make it to this area often, and I don’t want this to be the last time I have these tasty snacks.

Since they have online ordering, you can buy Porto’s Bakery gift cards, making the perfect gift for anyone living anywhere in the United States. They ship their best-selling pastries, frozen and unbaked, so you can enjoy them fresh from your own oven.

Porto’s Bakery family has several locations in the greater Los Angeles area. While I visited the Buena Park location, they also have bakeries in Northridge, Burbank, Downey, Glen Dale, and West Covina.

We ended up visiting Buena Park after our cruise on the Discovery Princess. Learn more about my 360 Experience on the ship.

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Amy Piper
Amy Piper

While Piper is a lifelong Michigander, she’s had adventures worldwide. Bomb-sniffing dogs chased her in the middle of the night in Bogota (working late), gate agents refused her boarding to Paraguay (wrong visa), and US Marshals announced her seat number on a plane while looking for a murder suspect (she’d traded seats). It’s always an adventure! She even finds exciting activities in her home state of Michigan, where she lives in Lansing with her husband, Ross Dingman, her daughter, Alexis, and two granddaughters.

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5 Comments

  1. Ivan

    I don’t know much about Cuban cuisine, but that Pumpkin Danish stole my attention just by looking at it. I’d have a hard time choosing too, and probably also regrets that I ordered “only one” 🙂

    Reply
  2. Zanne

    Love Portos! Such a Southern California staple

    Reply
  3. Stacey Wittig

    Thanks for the insider scoop! I’m pinning this article for my next trip to LA, Orange County and surrounding areas!

    Reply
  4. Carole

    This place sounds amazing! – so different and innovative, especially the bakery items. The meals reminded me of my favourite Cuban restaurant in London – Cubana near Waterloo station, good times spent there Loved reading the back story of the owners’ migration. Would like to try those potato balls.

    Reply
  5. Sage Scott

    Oh, my! Everything looks absolutely beyond delicious! I would have a hard time choosing just a reasonable amount of foods.

    Reply

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Welcome to Follow the Piper! Discover interesting destinations, and practical planning tips for packing more travel into your everyday life.

Our founder and author, Amy Piper, is a freelance travel writer, blogger, photographer, and author specializing in luxury and multi-generational travel. She is a native Michigander who travels through the lens of a food lover and has been to 41 countries and 45 states.

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