El Cafetal Restaurant and Bakery
El Cafetal Restaurant and Bakery has been a fixture on St.Clair for almost a year, but now under new ownership, it's expanding its mix of Mexican and Colombian specialties to include some new Peruvian offerings as well.
Though the operation is up and running, the no frills interior remains untouched -- the furnishings are comfortable enough, it just doesn't win any points for style. It's a 'come for the food' kind of place anyway. Locals know it as the place to get Latin American baked goods like Colombian butter cookies (Galletas de Montequilla) and guava jelly thumbprint cookies (Palovorosa) for a buck each.
Owner Julia Servat is already experienced at feeding crowd, she's run J.D. Best Fine Food for over 25 years and earned a reputation for her Alforjes Torte ($3.50 a slice), a 6 layered cake that alternates delicate shortbread with dulce de leche. Her cookies already stock the counters of cafés around town, but this new bakery cafe offers them fresh, straight from the source.
A freezer at the back of the room, stores prepared foods like Tamales ($3.50), Arepas ($5 for five) and Peruvian Empanadas ($7.50 a pair) filled with lean ground beef, onions, raisins and hard boiled eggs. Everything is made from scratch, frozen fresh and easily ready to be baked or reheated at home.
There's a menu of daytime cafe offerings too, like big Colombian breakfast plates, Bandeja Paisa ($13) loaded with eggs, beans, chicharrón (fried pork rinds), chorizo and plantains, as well as, Latin comfort foods like Papa a La Huancaina ($9), a boiled potato dish served cold and smothered in cheese sauce.
El Cafetal has plans to redecorate as it settles in over the next few months, though currently, the aim is for a seamless transition so that regulars can still get an authentic, cross-cultural taste of South America from this one stop destination. The restaurant is closed on Mondays, but otherwise opens at 10:30am daily. Take-out and catering orders available too.
Photos by Jesse Milns