Anyone who knows me knows I have a really sweet tooth. So when Gastón suggested going for Argentinian cakes at Pasteleria Mendieta one Sunday morning, I was completely on board.
That day, I tried mate for the first time, as well as a variety of delicious cakes. And after that first visit back in 2014, it’s safe to say that this bakery soon became one of my favourite places in Barcelona.
Argentinian Cakes at Pasteleria Mendieta
I hadn’t tasted any Argentinian cakes before I went to Mendieta, located in Clot, Barcelona. But I was definitely keen to try cakes from a country where it’s acceptable to eat them for breakfast.
Gastón explained that while here in Spain these types of cakes are generally called pastas, in Argentina they’re called facturas. This can get a little confusing since factura also means ‘bill’ in Spanish – as the Argentinian film, Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales) made a joke of. But of course, you’re unlikely to find dulce de leche in your electricity bill, so confusion is easily avoided most of the time.
Since that first visit I’ve tried most of the Argentinian cakes at Pasteleria Mendieta. And, although I don’t know the names of all of the different facturas, I have my firm favourites and know exactly what to order before I arrive.
Here are some of the facturas that you can try at Pasteleria Mendieta, all priced at around 70 cents each:
These facturas come with crema (custard) and membrillo (quince jam). If you’re lucky your vigilantes will also come with an extra drizzle of chocolate.
My typical order usually involves a vigilante and a tortita negra, although I can’t decide which I prefer. These sell out quickly so they must be one of the most popular Argentinian cakes at Pasteleria Mendieta.
My British friend Laura said that they look like a sickly mouthful of sugar. But for me, the thick firm pastry and the sugar topping make a delicious combination.
So, if you go to Mendieta and are lucky enough to see tortitas negras on display, make sure to try one for yourself and see if you agree with me!
These could be mistaken for croissants but they aren’t crumbly like the French version. Unlike croissants, medialunas (which means half moon) are smaller, sweeter and more compact.
At Mendieta, the medialunas come plain or with dulce de leche. I’m not a huge fan of dulce de leche but Gastón loves it and always orders at least one of these medialunas.
As for the plain medialunas, although I had some in Argentina with my first submarino, they’re probably the last thing I’d order when faced with so many other delicious Argentinian cakes at Pasteleria Mendieta.
As well as facturas, you can find a variety of other typical Argentinian foods at Mendieta, such as empanadas, sandwich de miga, and bizcochitos de grasa.
But, if you’re looking for other types of Argentinian cakes to try, these are a couple I would recommend:
This would be considered a type of torta in Argentina, and is a pastry tart full of membrillo. I’ve tried homemade pastafrolas and I can confirm that the Mendieta version has that same homemade taste, and all for around 2.50€ a slice.
Coconut & Dulce de leche tart
I first ordered a slice of this torta one afternoon when Gastón, his mum Mirta and I went to Mendieta and there were no facturas left. As I mentioned, I’m not mad on dulce de leche, but I liked the look of this tart and was curious to try it. And I’m so glad I did; the combination of the moist pastry case and the sweet and chewy filling is a match made in heaven!
A slice of this is also around 2.50€ and makes the perfect afternoon snack, known as merienda in Spanish.
My first Taste of Mate
Although I can’t remember which cakes I ate that first time at Mendieta, I can clearly remember my first taste of mate.
Back then I didn’t know anything about mate; I didn’t know how to serve it, how to drink it, and I definitely didn’t know that it’s more like a way of life in Argentina.
I watched as Gastón filled the mate (the receptacle) with what looked like tea leaves (yerba). But I couldn’t understand how we would drink it as there was no room for water. He then sprinkled some sugar on top of the yerba and added some not-quite-boiled water. I saw how the water soaked into the yerba and watched as Gastón took a few sips from the bombilla (the metal straw). Then he added more water and passed the mate to me.
I wasn’t really sure what to make of mate from my first few sips. It had a distinctive flavour but I couldn’t decide whether I liked it or not. Gastón said not to worry if I didn’t want any more. But I persevered and it began to grow on me more and more with each taste.
Now, when I go to Mendieta I always want to order mate, which comes in a kit for around 4€. I also love bringing mate to the beach in summer. It’s the perfect way to keep warm as the sun goes down while you chat and eat homemade cake.
However, If you’d like to try mate at Mendieta, it’s best to go with someone who knows how to serve it. This is because there are several tricks to getting the best taste from the yerba.
Alternatively, you could order mate cocido with your Argentinian cakes at Pasteleria Mendieta. More comparable to tea, mate cocido, comes in bag which you then dip in boiling water. In Argentina, children often drink mate cocido before they try mate, so it’s a good way to see if you like the flavour.
visit Mendieta for a slice of Argentina
With limited seating and walls decorated with sketches by Argentinian cartoonist Roberto Fontanarrosa, Mendieta offers a simple, no-frills slice of Argentina, which is exactly why Gastón and I love it so much.
For Gaston, discovering Mendieta made him feel closer to home; “at least”, he writes, “for as long as an empanada or a vigilante lasted in my hands“. For me, Mendieta was my first introduction to the foods he grew up with. And, the start of my love affair with all things Argentinian.
So, although we’ve recently heard about other Argentinian bakeries in Barcelona and Sabadell, Mendieta will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Have you been to Pasteleria Mendieta? If so, let me know what you ordered and what you thought of it!