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First Look

Las Americas Bakery in Hollywood: A First Glance at Authentic Colombian

A block away from executive circle in Hollywood, tucked among rows of strip-malls, lies yet another nondescript shopping plaza. Inside this one lies a hidden gem: Las Americas Bakery.

The decor is not what you would consider glamorous; the interior is typical of most latin bakeries -- straight to the point. Warm yellow walls, stark wooden tables and iron-framed chairs create a utilitarian feel. A photo collage near the front door shows off Colombian landmarks, landscapes and food. To the left lies a large glass bakery display case filled with sweet deliciousness: elephant ears, cookies, pandebono, pandequeso, and guava pastries.

The premise is simple: walk up to the counter, order, and grab a table. I decided to bring a Colombian friend to walk me through the process. We ordered Postobon to drink. It's a Colombian apple-flavored soft drink. Then came the food. Since Las Americas is known for its baked goods, we couldn't pass up the opportunity for a tasting. We ordered pandebono and pandequeso, both of which are different styles of cheese bread, as well as an empanada. All were very tasty and quite filling. When the entrees finally arrived, we were overwhelmed.

Based on a recommendation from another Colombian friend, I opted to try the bandeja paisa. From his description, I knew the portion would not be small. The reality was even more ridiculous than I could have even imagined. This meal was gigantic. For $9.99, I had grilled steak, with a mound of rice, a pile of beans, sweet plantains, chicharrón (pork rind), an arepita (corn griddle), and a fried egg to top it off. According to a description on Wikipedia, "the main characteristic of this dish is the oversized amount of food and the wide variety of ingredients, which prevent from being served on a single regular plate, so it must be served on a platter or tray."

My guest was actually somewhat sensible with her order. She had huevos pericos. For $4.99 she received scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions next to an arepa with cheese. No where as ridiculous as my feast, but not exactly light, either.

We hung out for hours attempting to make a dent in our meals. There was no rush. Besides, the minimal decor, the atmosphere is that of a family kitchen. No one is hurried. We sat chatting with the sounds of Colombian music videos in the background. The only other table sat talking amongst themselves and the staff. They were sitting when we arrived and seemed to have no intention of leaving as we walked out the door. 

Overall, Las Americas is a lovely, comfortable spot where you can afflict yourself with a food coma or feed a Sunday morning hangover.

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Sara Ventiera

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