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Mekato's Columbian Bakery

Mekato's Columbian Bakery
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  • Mekato's Columbian Bakery

    Post #1 - September 27th, 2005, 1:08 am
    Post #1 - September 27th, 2005, 1:08 am Post #1 - September 27th, 2005, 1:08 am
    Mekato’s Columbian Bakery has been briefly mentioned by Gwiv before. Gwiv stopped for the same reason Josephine Hyde and I did recently because of the neighboring Bulgarian Deli. While there was much that looked interesting, it was too warm to buy any sausages without having a cooler available for safe storage. Instead, we walked into the glistening white Columbian bakery nearby with the long coffee and snack bar plus two tables by the window for small groupings.

    While Josephine and I had plans to go to the Taste of Romania, there were so many interesting baked goods we ended up buying a small collection to sample. While waiting for a server, I noticed there were samples of flan on the counter free to take. This was not a gelatin based flan, rather it was rich with eggs and dairy. Mekato’s offers two types of flan: de leche and de queso. I had had the flan de queso which I now understand the queso to be cream cheese, which explains the extraordinary richness of this flan. A week later, I bought a container of flan con queso for a party and was pleased to find some discriminating people going back more than once. Please note they offer a third product with queso, which has a cheesecake quality to it. While all are good, I am especially fond of the flan de queso.

    One of the first items to catch my eye was the bear-claw like pastry filled with guava. I enjoyed the name offered by the Columbians: chicharon de guayaba. Hmmm bear claws or crisp pig skin, either way filled with guava was simply a divine sweet-tart dessert which reminded me of rhubarb:

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    Another beautiful offering was the fig filled with sweet milk brevas con arequipe. I am quite certain the sweet milk filling is made with condensed sweetened milk, which is cooked slowly to caramelize. I didn’t inquire though I am certain this must be a seasonal item, so get it while it lasts.

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    Empanadas with an exterior made of cornmeal are sold with either a chicken or a beef filling. I have tried both fillings and favor the beef. I especially like the thin, crisp cornmeal.

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    While Josephine and I were eating, we spied the next table had just received a large tamale wrapped in banana leaves:

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    These people were very kind to allow us to take a picture of their tamale, which was filled with potato pieces and chunks of pork. This tamale was bigger than they expected. They were sharing one and keeping the other for later because one was a meal by itself.

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    While the cases were filled quite a range of interesting cookies and breads. As the holidays approach, I have the feeling there might be some enchanting Christmas treats to collect here.

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    Bulgarian Deli
    5415 N Lincoln
    Chicago, IL 60625
    773-728-5651

    Mekato's Colombian Bakery
    5423 N Lincoln
    Chicago, IL 60625
    773-784-5181
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #2 - September 27th, 2005, 6:58 am
    Post #2 - September 27th, 2005, 6:58 am Post #2 - September 27th, 2005, 6:58 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Mekato’s Columbian Bakery has been briefly mentioned by Gwiv before. Gwiv stopped for the same reason Josephine Hyde and I did recently because of the neighboring Bulgarian Deli.

    C2,

    Actually, my destination was Mekato's Columbian Bakery, happen to notice Bulgarian Deli and went in. Mekato's Columbian Bakery, in addition to the items you mention, makes quite a nice cup of coffee and I especially like the guava pastries you pictured.

    Mekato's offers arepas, as well as empanadas, and you and I are on the same page far as the thin, crisp cornmeal empanadas which are quite good. I've not seen the large tamales served and, as they look delicious, I will be sure to inquire.

    One note about the Bulgarian Deli, as I mentioned in my post, on the weekends they offer a number of prepared items.

    Nice pictures.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Hold my beer . . .

    Low & Slow
  • Post #3 - September 27th, 2005, 8:48 am
    Post #3 - September 27th, 2005, 8:48 am Post #3 - September 27th, 2005, 8:48 am
    Cathy, arequipe=dulce de leche=manjar=fanguito=doce de leite and is similar to cajeta. Different names for the same thing from various parts of America. Not unlike the tamal/hallaca/humita/pastel/pache/corunda/bollo (Colombian).

    I often see dulce de leche described as something made from condensed milk, which I guess is a way to think about it. But really, the condensed milk is simply a middle step in the process of cooking cream and sugar down to a thick caramel.
  • Post #4 - December 21st, 2005, 6:42 pm
    Post #4 - December 21st, 2005, 6:42 pm Post #4 - December 21st, 2005, 6:42 pm
    Hi,

    Last night, I dropped in on Mekato's Columbian Bakery to learn what they offer special for Christmas. There are only two items, this flan which not only features maize, there is also coconut. This is a heavy concoction with a spice-cake style flavoring. I brought a sample to Tre Kronor, which Hammond took home for breakfast today. Maybe he will chime in with a clearer impression of this flan.

    Image

    While you can buy the flan today, their second offering is available Christmas Day only or by special order. It is a bread named Pan Venezolano with ham, bacon, olives and raisins.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #5 - December 27th, 2005, 8:39 pm
    Post #5 - December 27th, 2005, 8:39 pm Post #5 - December 27th, 2005, 8:39 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Hi,

    Last night, I dropped in on Mekato's Columbian Bakery to learn what they offer special for Christmas. There are only two items, this flan which not only features maize, there is also coconut. This is a heavy concoction with a spice-cake style flavoring. I brought a sample to Tre Kronor, which Hammond took home for breakfast today. Maybe he will chime in with a clearer impression of this flan.


    Sorry to be so long to respond...missed the reference first time around. It was, as I suspected, an excellent breakfast food: good body, moist and tasty.

    Hammond
    "Don't you ever underestimate the power of a female." Bootsy Collins
  • Post #6 - October 6th, 2006, 3:55 am
    Post #6 - October 6th, 2006, 3:55 am Post #6 - October 6th, 2006, 3:55 am
    My appreciation for Mekato's just grows and grows. This week, I was lucky enough to be hanging around there with a cafe con leche at a little after 8 in the morning. Ever since my first visit to Mekato's with Cathy2, I had been curious about the spherical, golden brown things called bunuelos de queso. When I inquired about them, the waitress told me that if I could stay about 5 more minutes, the morning's fresh batch would be out. If Colombia has a doughnut, this is it: a savory yeast dough with a slight tang of cheese in the perfume, hot as a baked potato from the oven, fried just until crisp in some kind of oil (not lard, I was told, but your could have fooled me). The crispy crust has just the merest browned-cheese quality, which for me, makes it much better than a sweet doughnut dunked in glaze. Readers who would like to try Mekato's bunuelos de queso fresh from the fryer should visit at around 8:30 AM, I was told. The place tends to be busy on weekends, and the bunuelos may sell out quickly, so be forewarned!

    Just as I was emerging from my bunuelo-induced reverie, I spotted a cake on the counter called torta negra. While Cathy2 had earlier identified some Christmas specials, I do not believe that this was among them. However, with Jamaican (actually St. Lucian) black cake in mind, I asked the waitress what was in this black cake. She told me there is wine in it, and some fruits, and that it is eaten at holidays and birthdays. Since my birthday, like Christmas, is months away, I resolved to take a piece home and celebrate later that very day. This black cake proved to be a cross between a spice cake and a fruit cake. The wine, or perhaps some molasses, gave it a wonderful dark flavor reminiscent of a dark fruitcake. Rather than the heavy, moist fruitcake texture, it had a medium light crumb, ever so slightly dry, with a few re-hydrated dried fruit pieces at the bottom. It seemed to be just the type of fall-into-winter dessert that I love, and that I hope others on the board will get a chance to try.
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #7 - October 7th, 2006, 10:18 am
    Post #7 - October 7th, 2006, 10:18 am Post #7 - October 7th, 2006, 10:18 am
    Wow! Reading this thread suddenly helped me to make a connection. I was first introduced to empanadas about 20 years ago in Columbus, Ohio by my friend Maria's mom, who made them from scratch. Maria's parents were from Colombia. Since then, I've had empanadas many times and even made them myself (using the Goya wrappers, of course. I'm no miracleworker in the kitchen). Always enjoyable, but never quite the same. Now, upon reading this post about Colombian bakery, I realize that the original empanadas I loved so much must have been made with the cornmeal flour. I will be visiting Mekato's bakery forthwith to see if I can revisit those salad days of junior high.
  • Post #8 - July 6th, 2007, 5:36 pm
    Post #8 - July 6th, 2007, 5:36 pm Post #8 - July 6th, 2007, 5:36 pm
    Wow, I had no idea those conniving Colombians had stolen one of <i>our</i> best-kept culinary secrets. Did you get to try it Cathy? (I know it's almost been two years, but had to ask...)

    Btw, it's called "Pan de Jamon" and I'm seriously scratching my head as to why Colombians would be selling it as "Pan Venezolano"...
  • Post #9 - July 6th, 2007, 5:52 pm
    Post #9 - July 6th, 2007, 5:52 pm Post #9 - July 6th, 2007, 5:52 pm
    jedibrand wrote:Wow, I had no idea those conniving Colombians had stolen one of <i>our</i> best-kept culinary secrets. Did you get to try it Cathy? (I know it's almost been two years, but had to ask...)

    Btw, it's called "Pan de Jamon" and I'm seriously scratching my head as to why Colombians would be selling it as "Pan Venezolano"...


    Hi,

    Which item did I taste?

    What country is the 'our' your referring to?

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #10 - July 6th, 2007, 8:00 pm
    Post #10 - July 6th, 2007, 8:00 pm Post #10 - July 6th, 2007, 8:00 pm
    FWIW, there's a Pan de Jamon on the menu at:

    Caracas Grill
    6340 N. Clark St., Chicago
    (773) 262-9900

    The owner says it's traditionally a holiday item, but she usually has it all year.
  • Post #11 - August 7th, 2007, 3:58 pm
    Post #11 - August 7th, 2007, 3:58 pm Post #11 - August 7th, 2007, 3:58 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:
    jedibrand wrote:Wow, I had no idea those conniving Colombians had stolen one of <i>our</i> best-kept culinary secrets. Did you get to try it Cathy? (I know it's almost been two years, but had to ask...)

    Btw, it's called "Pan de Jamon" and I'm seriously scratching my head as to why Colombians would be selling it as "Pan Venezolano"...


    Hi,

    Which item did I taste?

    What country is the 'our' your referring to?

    Regards,


    You tasted "Pan Venezolano", which is actually "Pan de Jamon". It's eaten in Venezuela during Xmas, though bakeries will sometimes bake them throughout the year.
  • Post #12 - August 7th, 2007, 6:01 pm
    Post #12 - August 7th, 2007, 6:01 pm Post #12 - August 7th, 2007, 6:01 pm
    jedibrand wrote:You tasted "Pan Venezolano", which is actually "Pan de Jamon". It's eaten in Venezuela during Xmas, though bakeries will sometimes bake them throughout the year.


    I had this at Caracas Grill late last year - it was outstanding. I tried to get some for North Clark-a-thon II, but the owner had forgotten to start making it the day before.

    Sadly, I fear Joe G is right - Caracas Grill may be with us no more. I tried the phone number and it was disconnected.
    Last edited by nr706 on August 7th, 2007, 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #13 - August 7th, 2007, 9:46 pm
    Post #13 - August 7th, 2007, 9:46 pm Post #13 - August 7th, 2007, 9:46 pm
    Last I checked it seemed to be open, though I haven't been inside in some time. This was about 1-2 weeks back, and there was a sign on the door offering a weekend lunch special for somewhere around $6-7.95.
  • Post #14 - August 29th, 2008, 9:45 pm
    Post #14 - August 29th, 2008, 9:45 pm Post #14 - August 29th, 2008, 9:45 pm
    Reading the Old Fashioned Donut thread reminded me of my favorite fried dough in Chicago: the hot bunuelos at Mekato's Columbian Bakery on Lincoln. They are not really sweet at all, a bit dense, slightly crunchy and not particularly cheesy. Here are some pictures I've been meaning to post of the cafe. They make a nice cafe con leche and have sausages and arepas in the morning. The place is full on Saturdays, but all the baking is very fresh then - in the middle of the week there are occasionally some stale items, but I am a huge fan overall. Prices are low. You can see everything being made in the kitchen behind the counter.

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    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #15 - September 19th, 2008, 6:50 pm
    Post #15 - September 19th, 2008, 6:50 pm Post #15 - September 19th, 2008, 6:50 pm
    I may have missed it, but I don't see any posts that reference the fact that Mekato has a Milwaukee branch. Has anyone been there? I'll be in Milwaukee for work quite a bit this fall.

    Mekato
    3500 W. National Ave.
    414-383-CAFE (2233)
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #16 - September 19th, 2008, 8:27 pm
    Post #16 - September 19th, 2008, 8:27 pm Post #16 - September 19th, 2008, 8:27 pm
    Kennyz wrote:I may have missed it, but I don't see any posts that reference the fact that Mekato has a Milwaukee branch. Has anyone been there? I'll be in Milwaukee for work quite a bit this fall.

    Mekato
    3500 W. National Ave.
    414-383-CAFE (2233)


    When I visited, I got the impression that Mekato was a franchise of sorts. There was some signage that looked like it came from corporate headquarters among the hand lettered signs for the particular products. A quick Google search also turned up one in Miami.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #17 - September 19th, 2008, 9:08 pm
    Post #17 - September 19th, 2008, 9:08 pm Post #17 - September 19th, 2008, 9:08 pm
    a quick auto-translation of the Spanish language website gives the following:

    Since the 2002 the family Bohorquez, its experienced baker Jose Chavez and the group of employees, they have done that the panaderia Mekato' s be converted rapidamente in the best panaderia Colombian of Chicago and the western middle, just like the center of meeting by excellence of the Colombians in the city of the winds and outskirts. In Mekato' s we take care for giving him always the best service with the quality of our products baked daily to guarantee asi its coolness, the careful service of ours employed and the cleaning that has always characterized us, they do that who visit want us quick to return.


    I could see the "outskirts" including Milwaukee. Miami is tougher to fathom.
    ...defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions." Screwtape in The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis

    Fuckerberg on Food
  • Post #18 - September 20th, 2008, 1:41 am
    Post #18 - September 20th, 2008, 1:41 am Post #18 - September 20th, 2008, 1:41 am
    stevez wrote: When I visited, I got the impression that Mekato was a franchise of sorts. There was some signage that looked like it came from corporate headquarters among the hand lettered signs for the particular products.

    Another tiny mystery solved. Thanks, stevez. I always wondered about that slick poster with the guava pastry. The thing is, nothing else about the place says "franchise."

    BTW, I prefer the chicken empanadas to the beef ones. Two of them make a nice $2 lunch.
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #19 - September 20th, 2008, 5:46 am
    Post #19 - September 20th, 2008, 5:46 am Post #19 - September 20th, 2008, 5:46 am
    Josephine wrote:The thing is, nothing else about the place says "franchise."


    Nope. Nothing at all. Other than some of the signage, you'd never know that there might be a corporate parent lurking somewhere.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #20 - September 20th, 2008, 11:13 am
    Post #20 - September 20th, 2008, 11:13 am Post #20 - September 20th, 2008, 11:13 am
    Forgot to mention - there's also a poster showing a nicely-roasted pig (with apple, which Sparky keeps asking for) and sides, and something I gather that they cater? Anybody got intel on that?
  • Post #21 - November 10th, 2008, 6:33 pm
    Post #21 - November 10th, 2008, 6:33 pm Post #21 - November 10th, 2008, 6:33 pm
    It took me long enough, but I finally tried Mekato's and I can understand why so many are impressed. Once again, a big thank you to the LTH community for leading me to a place that I have never noticed the hundreds of times I've driven by.

    I tried the beef empanada, which I liked quite a bit. I loved the flavor of the cornmeal dough and the rich beef filling. It might have been just a tad on the greasy side, but the flavor was about as good as can be.

    I tried one of the bunuelos, and while the texture was perfect - beautifully crisp on the outside yet so soft, pillowy on the inside - the flavor just wasn't for me. I don't think this is a Mekato's issue; it's just not my cup of tea.

    I liked the light, airy coconut bun . . . very lightly sweetened, and dusted lightly with coconut.

    But two of Mekato's sweets just blew me away. First, the guava with cheese pastry is magnificent. The flakiness of the crust, the combination of the cheese and guava filling, and the perfect level of sweetness. All I can say is wow! I also tried what I believe was described as a milk cookie . . . or cake? Crisp rounds of a hard, lightly sweetened cookie, dusted with coconut, and seemingly filled with a thin layer of cajeta? I'm not sure, but it was also outstanding.

    In any event, I look forward to returning and trying some more items, especially given Mekato's recession-happy prices . . . was there anything over $1.50??? Hardly!
  • Post #22 - November 10th, 2008, 8:22 pm
    Post #22 - November 10th, 2008, 8:22 pm Post #22 - November 10th, 2008, 8:22 pm
    Could the cookie you describe have been dusted with confectioner's sugar? If so, you're describing an alfajor- and Mekato's are excellent.

    I can see why bunuelos aren't everybody's cup of tea: I happen to dislike doughnuts because I don't generally like fried sugar, which is why I enjoyed them so much - they are unsweetened, except for the natural slight sweetness of the flour and whatever cheese it is that's in the pastry. I'm pretty sure they're fried in lard, because the predominant flavor is kind of bacon-y. That's fine - more for me!
  • Post #23 - November 10th, 2008, 8:43 pm
    Post #23 - November 10th, 2008, 8:43 pm Post #23 - November 10th, 2008, 8:43 pm
    Mhays wrote:Could the cookie you describe have been dusted with confectioner's sugar? If so, you're describing an alfajor- and Mekato's are excellent.

    That looks like the cookie . . . except I think that Mekato's may have been coated in both powdered sugar and coconut. In any event, truly excellent indeed.
  • Post #24 - November 20th, 2008, 11:27 am
    Post #24 - November 20th, 2008, 11:27 am Post #24 - November 20th, 2008, 11:27 am
    On our way back from watching the Bears debacle last Sunday, Mr. X patiently accepted my slightly indirect path home for a stop at Mekato's. I noticed they had their GNR poster hanging, but I couldn't locate the certificate anywhere. But, that's not the important part. We were in it for the food. From the hot section, we selected one chicken empanada, one beef empanada, an arepa and some potato/meat ball. We each then chose a sweet item. I went for the alfajor while Mr. X opted for a donut type item.

    The warm items weren't so warm by the time we drove home and they sat on the counter. Microwaving them seemed wrong, so we ate them as they were. The chicken empanada was our favorite -- wonderful flavor, nice pieces of chicken. I also liked the arepa -- excellent texture and corn flavor. Mr. X found the cheese on top to be odd. I suppose that issue would have been resolved had I bothered to heat it up in the oven. I rarely have issues with cheese on top of anything. The potato/meat ball had great flavor as well. Wish I knew what it was called...

    Finally, the sweets hit the spot. The cookie part of the alfajor was crunchier than I remember (with Cafe Salamera's being my baseline.) Still quite delicious! Mr. X's donut seemed to be filled with some sort of caramel. I was able to sneak a taste before it disappeared.

    This was a great light dinner for us and cost under $10. We'll be back.
    -Mary
  • Post #25 - September 12th, 2012, 4:27 pm
    Post #25 - September 12th, 2012, 4:27 pm Post #25 - September 12th, 2012, 4:27 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:Another beautiful offering was the fig filled with sweet milk brevas con arequipe. I am quite certain the sweet milk filling is made with condensed sweetened milk, which is cooked slowly to caramelize. I didn’t inquire though I am certain this must be a seasonal item, so get it while it lasts.

    Image

    I went just for this item yesterday morning, went back again to get more today. These are sooooo good.

    Also tried the bunuelos, empanadas (3 kinds), alfajor, coconut flan, arepas (sweet w/kernals of corn), each were delicious.

    The unexpected hit this morning was the Columbian Churo w/a filling of the arequipe, still warm, simply a killer item I had happy mouth for an hour after finishing it.

    Mekato's will have to get into my reg rotation.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #26 - September 27th, 2014, 10:07 am
    Post #26 - September 27th, 2014, 10:07 am Post #26 - September 27th, 2014, 10:07 am
    Looking at the list of GNRs which are currently up for renewal, Mekato's is at the top of my list. It has all of the earmarks of a GNR, the charming if a bit garish interior, the exceedingly warm and friendly family that runs the place (usually the teenage son with a friend or girlfriend helping him out), and of course the amazing bunuelos among the many other amazing food items. I'm shocked to see there has been no talk on the place since 2012, and really hope that anyone who agrees with me would speak up before it's too late!
    Part of the secret of a success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.

    -Mark Twain

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