Las Rosas Bakery: Authentic Mexican Pastry in South Philadelphia

David Meneses, owner of Las Rosas Bakery in South Philadelphia

On an unassuming corner in South Philadelphia you’ll find Las Rosas, a bakery and coffee shop that specializes in Mexican and Italian breads. It’s one of the area’s best: a cool café with an impressive success story based on hard work, authentic recipes, and the ability to roll with the changes.

Recently David Meneses, the owner of Las Rosas, was in the Italian Market delivering samples to shops and restaurants when he ran into my wife, Glamorosi. They struck up a conversation about food, and at the end of it, they exchanged business cards and Meneses presented her with a bag of of bread from his new bakery. 

Impressed by the tasty, almost soft pretzel-like dough of the cemitas (traditional Mexican sandwich bread), we decided to stop by the recently opened Las Rosas to try more of Meneses’  baked goods. What we discovered was a bustling panaderia (a Mexican bakery) with a steady stream of patrons and a long case that was constantly re-stocked with fresh-from-the-oven pastry.

Meneses’ backstory is simple. He has been employed since the age of seven when he started selling candy in his native Mexico to help support his family. Since leaving home and arriving in Philadelphia twelve years ago, he has held positions from dishwasher to server in restaurants owned by Neil Stein including Rouge, and most recently, Mixto. To hear Meneses talk, his greatest talent, then and now, is listening and gleaning what he can from restaurateurs and chefs about becoming successful in business and making a living with the food he loves.

Las Rosas Bakery
Upon finding a small family owned bakery for sale in South Philly (DiGiampietro’s), Meneses re-christened it as Las Rosas and filled it with an array of breads and pastries baked in-house, plus a selection of virgin Mojitos, fruit smoothies, herbal tea, and specialty coffee.  His drinks, including Cortaditos (Cuban coffee and tres leches) and Café Mocha (coffee and Abuelita Mexican chocolate) rival anything you’d purchase at Starbucks, but at half the price.

It is Meneses’ nephew from Mexico, Margarito Tlapecho, who is Las Rosas’ baker. Tlapecho learned his trade in Mexico by offering to sweep at a restaurant that later took him on as an apprentice. His recipes are impeccable:  traditional sweet breads such as soft round conchas (with vanilla, chocolate or strawberry topping), the long sliced mantecado topped with a thin layer of margarine, and the ojo de buey were tender and flaky. He also makes Italian bread for Las Rosas, and Meneses reason for selling it was to the point: "it's really good bread, we like it".

When asked what the hardest part of owning and maintaining his own business is, Meneses didn't cite the economy or the sixteen hour days (Las Rosas is open seven days a week) - he said it's the weather. "Philadelphia is hotter and more humid than Mexico and it affects the baking, so you have to constantly change," says Meneses. "You work with the heat though and play with the times. Once you learn to adjust, you’ve got it made.”

A variety of authentic Mexican pastry from Las Rosas Bakery

Las Rosas Bakery
1712 S. 8th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148

Mon-Sat, 6am to 10 pm
Sun, 6 am to 9 pm

Photos ©Glamorosi 2012

Posted on Thursday, August 16, 2012 11:45 AM