The first thing you should know about Dolce Pan Bakery is that it is a delightful Puerto Rican bakery, coffee shop, and fast casual restaurant.
The second thing you should know is that to find it easily, just think 2818. Located a couple of blocks east of Clinton on Governors Drive, Dolce Pan Bakery is a bit nestled into its property, and not easy to see from the road. Just park where you see a big 2818 sign and you’ll be there.
I’d had Puerto Rican food exactly twice before, so any comment I would make on authenticity would be of limited value. However, I will tell you that my dining companion and I, as English-speaking customers, were in a slight minority. Moreover, when I was deciding what to have for lunch, I emphasized to the proprietor that I wanted the most typically Puerto Rican sandwich she offered.
That turned out to be the Triplet, with ham, pastrami, steak, Swiss, lettuce, and tomato. Sounds good, but what makes it Puerto Rican? Ah, it’s the dressing. It’s a mixture of ketchup and mayonnaise, but with a healthy amount of minced garlic whisked in. Well, sold. Minced garlic is good on everything but ice cream, and I did enjoy my Triplet.
The sandwiches are contact-grilled, made to order, and served with a few potato sticks. Several other meat combinations are offered, as are eggs and queso. The sandwiches are in the $5-8 range.
There is also a standing antojitos (literally, “little cravings”) menu, made up of savory pastries and other munchables commonly sold as street food. Everything on this menu is in the $2-5 range. I’m looking forward to exploring the antojitos further on a future visit.
My dining companion ordered one of the daily specials — the mofongo with shrimp. A signature Puerto Rican dish, mofongo is mashed plantains mixed with garlic, spices, and bits of bacon. She enjoyed the fusion of flavors, and found it quite filling.
Pastries and coffees receive the rest of the attention at Dolce Pan Bakery, so dessert is no problem. My friend ordered vanilla flan, which was fresh and tasty. Other offerings include bread pudding and Danishes, making it a great place for a stop on the way to work (open at 7:00 AM Tuesday through Saturday).
For the Kids
There is no dedicated children’s menu in evidence at Dolce Pan, but with such reasonable pricing this is not a significant liability. Things do look a bit different, though, so judge your little ones’ senses of adventure accordingly. There is no safe haven of dinosaur chicken nuggets to which to retreat (though bribery with sweet things is a potentially powerful play!). Highchairs are available, and both of the clean restrooms include changing tables.
Finally, know that the Dolce Pan Bakery Facebook page is highly interactive, with staff responding quickly. If you want a heads-up on upcoming specials, or you want to ask questions or make requests, drop by and do so. They respond promptly, in both English and Spanish.
I am delighted that the Huntsville restaurant scene is continuing to grow so quickly, and with such cosmopolitan offerings. Our new Puerto Rican place is a welcome addition. Keep Dolce Pan Bakery in mind for a step off the beaten path.