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The Short Version: Couples in Southern California can plan a memorable date at La Monarca Bakery & Cafe. The eatery was founded 15 years ago to bring authentic Mexican flavors to its community, and now it has 12 locations throughout the region. La Monarca specializes in Mexican pan dulce pastries, cakes, cookies, and savory options, including tacos and tortas. Couples can also order coffee or hot chocolate to go or have them shipped anywhere in the United States.
Some Southern California couples find themselves missing the Mexican breads and pastries they grew up eating. When they want a taste of home, they can stop by a La Monarca Bakery & Cafe location for an authentic treat.
They may opt for two slices of the bakery’s famous Horchata Cake, a vanilla and cinnamon sponge cake soaked with horchata and topped with a cinnamon and vanilla bean chantilly cream. To help wash it down, they can order two cups of Cafe de Olla coffee, an organic brew made more complex with brown sugar and Mexican cinnamon.
Many couples choose to stock up on breakfast staples for a morning date at home. One popular to-go item is the bakery’s Pan Dulce by the Dozen, which includes two cinnamon rolls; two pan finos, a cinnamon-sugar bread; two cuernitos, a savory bread similar to a croissant, and four mini conchas, sweet bread that looks like a seashell. It also includes taquitos, but not the ones couples would find at a taco truck. La Monarca makes its taquitos from puff pastry and sugar, and they come in many flavors, including pineapple, cream, guava with cheese, and dulce de leche.
Couples can collect their orders and eat their pastries and coffee outside. Natalie Woyshner, La Monarca’s Marketing Director, told us that many couples create unique dates with takeout from one of the bakery’s 12 Southern California locations. In addition to Santa Monica, La Monarca has shops in Huntington Park, Pasadena, and Boyle Heights.
“La Monarca Bakery & Cafe offers delicious dessert options which make for great coffee dates. You can get slices of our cakes, a coffee, or Mexican hot chocolate, and take them to the park to enjoy,” said Natalie.
La Monarca has been a staple in Southern California since 2006. Two Stanford MBA graduates from Mexico realized there weren’t any local bakeries that offered the doughy staples they enjoyed growing up. Though they wanted to create a Mexican focus, they also knew that a strong concept would attract a diverse client base.
Over the years, La Monarca expanded to more locations and started baking more breads that felt genuine to Baker and Owner Ricardo Cervantes, who founded the eatery with his friend Alfredo Livas. The panadería, or bread shop, also started serving lunch and dinner options, including tacos and tortas.
The name La Monarca is for the monarch butterfly, which appears in the bakery’s logo. Natalie explained the meaning of this symbol to the owners.
“The monarch butterfly symbolizes perseverance against great odds, and community, family, and hope for a better future,” she told us.
Unlike some other Mexican bakeries, La Monarca focuses on serving fresh products that don’t include preservatives or trans fats. The shop also prioritizes ingredients from California and Mexico to ensure taste and authenticity.
La Monarca has picked up many accolades over the years, too.
The Los Angeles Times suggested trying out the shop’s baguettes, bolillos, pan dulce, Mexican wedding cakes, and cheesecakes.
Sunset magazine also recommended the eatery. “For real-deal Mexican sweet pan dulce, grab a metal tray and tongs and serve yourself the traditional way. Everything in the bakery — from dulce de leche–filled croissants to vegetarian chorizo molletes (open-face sandwiches) — is made with all-natural ingredients, including dairy, and eggs from California, and guava, agave nectar, and organic coffee from Mexico. Our pick: A light and creamy caramel flan.”
Even if a couple doesn’t live near a physical location, they can still plan a La Monarca date at home. The bakery and café ships many of its popular products around the United States.
“The popularity and interest in our products has led to a packaged-goods line which is now sold directly through our website,” Natalie said.
The Cafe de Olla coffee, complete with its cinnamon and brown sugar, can be delivered nationwide.
Other couples prefer the sweeter options of a tin of Mexican hot chocolate or champurrado — corn-thickened Mexican chocolate made with cinnamon and vanilla. La Monarca’s tin comes with a molinillo, a whisk designed to stir and froth the mixture.
The company also ships cookies nationally. Its wedding cookies, made with butter, pecans, and powdered sugar, are a popular option. A package of cinnamon cookies, a shortbread recipe from northern Mexico, is another favorite. Others opt for orejitas, or butter palmiers, a flaky cookie baked with brown sugar for a crunchy bite.
Fans of La Monarca can also purchase branded merchandise on the website, including to-go mugs, at-home mugs, and T-shirts.
Long-distance couples can let their significant others know they care with a little help from La Monarca. The bakery delivers whole cakes directly to Southern California homes. A Dulche de Leche cake or an entire flan, a caramel custard with a caramel top, make for unique gifts.
“We even had a woman in Taiwan order a cake to be delivered to her boyfriend in Los Angeles,” Natalie told us.
A couple could also order one of the bakery’s delicious cakes to celebrate a special occasion at home.
La Monarca makes its baked goods available all over Southern California and the United States, but the company still sticks to its local roots.
“We’re dedicated to baking delicious products with what we call ‘The Sweet Flavor of Mexico,’ creating opportunities in underserved communities, and caring for our environment,” Natalie said.
La Monarca focuses on hiring diverse staff members who live in the communities they serve. It is also committed to promoting from within, aiming to move entry-level employees up through the management chain.
“Our retail stores are visited mostly by customers within their zip codes. Many of the neighborhoods we service have a majority Hispanic population who love the authenticity of the artisanal baked goods we have crafted,” Natalie told us.
With a light at the end of the tunnel of the COVID-19 pandemic, La Monarca has big plans to expand its footprint in greater Los Angeles. The team is also growing its coffee and cookie offerings to ship to fans throughout the country.
Whether you’re planning a date in Southern California and want to pick up some fresh-baked bread, or you are developing a special evening with orejitas and champurrado, La Monarca brings genuine Mexican flavors to couples throughout the United States.
“We love our customers,” Natalie told us.