Ask the Chef

Napoleon Bakery in West Palm Beach: Homemade Sausage, Spanish Tapas, and Canned Oysters

I have driven past Napoleon Bakery about 870 times and never given it a second glance until the other day, when upon the urging of my friend Steve, we stopped in.

The facade of the building looks a bit Disney-esque, like a candy "shoppe" in Fantasyland circa 1970. Clapboard covered windows, flower filled window boxes, and a cheesy orange and pink color scheme complete Napoleon's look, two stories of homemade goodness on an otherwise desolate stretch of Dixie Highway.

One thing we need more of around here are old-fashioned markets. Think Joseph's Classic Market without the high prices and clean cut corporate look. Joints that make everything from scratch. These places are a bit rough around the edges. You may have to seek them out. Napoleon is one of those spots. Family run for 30 years, it is a classic Spanish bakery and deli (I always assumed it was Latin, or French) turning out some real deal home made stuff. 

If you are a fan of tapas, the classic Spanish small plates, you have to get in here. In Spain, folks have mastered the art of the social hour. Every day, it is basically required that you make your way over to your favorite watering hole after work, where the owners have thoughtfully laid out a delectable spread of snacks that will keep you there downing cava and  Estrella Damm beer until 8pm or so, when you will eventually make your way to dinner (the Spanish eat fashionably late dinners, typically 10pm or later).

When you walk into Napoleon, you will first be hit in the face by the amazing smells, from cured meats and cheese, to fresh breads and pastries, to brewing espresso. Behind the counter you will see the sausages. Yes, they cure and smoke their own chorizo and salami here. I spoke with Yon Ormazabal, the son of the owner, who explained to me some of Napoleon's specialties. "We make absolutely everything from scratch," Yon says. "Our croquetas are prepared every morning." 

Some of Napoleon Bakery's other tapas include Spanish omelettes, filled with potato, onion, egg, and chorizo, spinach ravioli, octopus and sauteed onions, sardines "escabeche" style with parsley, vinegar, garlic, and olive oil, a manchego and pepper salad with prosciutto, and stuffed squid (with ink). Most of the tapas are served over fresh baked French bread, they rotate constantly, and they will run you from $1-$2.50 per piece. Entree sized portions are also available in full and half sized plates for $3.50-$7.00. Yon Ormazabal's tip of the day to his customers is to "stop in Wednesday to Friday morning between 10-11", when they will find the widest selection of tapas and treats. If you are like me, and prefer to try as many items as possible as opposed to one entree, Napoleon is definitely a place to check out. 

In addition to tapas, Napoleon turns out a daunting selection of tarts, cookies, and other pastries, wedding cakes, pies, fresh bread, you name it. They even sell canned sardines and oysters, which are delicacies in Spain. Like the raw variety served in swanky settings elsewhere, these canned oysters are not cheap, and yes, they pair phenomenally well with cold beer. You want this place in your hood, let's face it. We need more places like Napoleon. When I told Yon that his parents bakery was a West Palm Beach treasure, he laughed and said "When I was young, I didn't think so" (because it was always work to him). "Now as I am getting older, I see it." It is clear as day.

Napoleon Bakery is located at 6619 South Dixie Hwy.,  West Palm Beach. Call 561-588-6295.

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Aaron Merullo