Sergio Manrique and I have sat on an inter-agency immigrant services committee for some time now, but I had no idea that he and Ninfa Castellanos had been planning on opening a Latin bakery together until I read about it.
La Monarca opened on December 1, just a block away from where the Old Bread Factory (now shuttered) used to be, tucked behind the Whitemud Crossing complex. It takes its name from the Monarch butterfly, which migrates from Canada to Mexico every fall, symbolizing a bridge between the two countries.
On Saturday, Mack and I walked over to the bakery after an event at the nearby library, and Sergio warmly welcomed us both.
As it was near the end of the day, it wasn’t a shock that he had been nearly cleaned out – most of the bread, and all of the cakes had been sold out. We still did have a fair share of sweet and savoury pastries and cookies to choose from, beautifully displayed and lit in wooden cases fit for a curio collection (customers select what they want using tongs and plastic trays, a la Garden Bakery). Most of the items were under $2, so a trip here definitely wouldn’t break the bank. I couldn’t help but think the location is great – students studying at the library could easily pop over for a snack.
We asked Sergio what his favourite treat was, and though it was difficult to get him to commit, he did lean towards the conchas (sweet, shell-shaped buns). Mack ended up choosing a corbata ($1.50), a sweet bun filled with custard, and I decided on the tornillo ($1.75), a chocolate twist.
Mack’s corbata was our favourite of the two – he initially said we’d only have a bite before dinner, but of course, it was gone before you know it: he bread had a subtle sweetness that complemented the custard so well.
Be sure to check out La Monarca the next time you’re in the neighbourhood – I know we will – there are still two dozen options we have to try! Best of luck to Sergio and Ninfa with this new endeavour.
4119 106 Street