As a pan dulce addict, I am always looking for places where I might find breads that are different from, and perhaps even better than, those I've already tried.
This time, the allure was increased by being in a new town--Oxnard. The sure way to locate a panadería was to get a local tip, and the logical place to ask was a taco shop.
This is how I found La Central Bakery, a paradise of Mexican goodies. In the cooler (at left in the photo) were boxes of tres leches cake and two kinds of flan--flan napolitano (a rich, plain custard) and flan de elote (corn).
The front counter was stacked with snacks such as duros and popcorn (above), boxes of cookies, bags of bread, bolitas de tamarindo (tamarind sweets) and tubs of lard. La Central is a tortilla factory too and on weekends has hot foods.
But my eyes went to the stunning display of pan dulce in the showcases, and I soon had a trayful: Wheat semas, one of them topped with piloncillo; a long lengua (tongue) sprinkled with pink sugar, a pretzel-shaped alamar, a bun decorated with white frosting and coconut, and a small, chunky cornflour bread.
The woman behind the counter pointed to a plain bun as her favorite. This contained a surprise that I couldn't see, raisins at the bottom. A flat, round chamuco was composed of yellow dough wrapped in a band of plain dough and sprinkled with sugar. It was thicker and more elaborate than other chamucos I have bought.
I also picked out a large flaky oreja (palmier or elephant ear cookie) and a thick sugar-sprinkled cookie that might be made from corn dough. I won't know until I taste it. It's in the foreground in the photo above.
Although new to me, La Central has been around since 1948. It is family owned and uses the same recipes that have been popular since it opened. Here is the side view as I approached it, walking along Meta Street.
La Central Bakery and Tortilla Factory, 600 Meta Street, Oxnard, CA 93030. (805) 483-8434.