From Mexico, With Love

Appears in the January 2023 issue.

By Peter Gianopulos


Various baked goods at El Dorado Bakery

Ever wonder why the world’s most decadent pastries—a feathery light Parisian croissant, an espresso-soaked square of tiramisu, a fluffy bowl of gulab jamon from India—taste so much better when you’re on vacation?

Jaime Montiel, who runs the Mexican-themed El Dorado Bakery in Lisle, says the secret is rather simple: local ingredients. Many bakeries here in America can’t afford to import the specialized ingredients—local flour, eggs, fruits—that make those exotic treats so unique.

El Dorado happens to be a delicious exception, because when Montiel’s father-in-law, a Mexican-born baker named Jose Suarez, launched the business seven years ago, he brought native Mexican margarines, flavor agents, and techniques with him. “He wanted this bakery to be authentically Mexican, and the only way to do that was to use authentic ingredients,” Montiel says. Bite into one of El Dorado’s conchas and you’ll detect that authenticity immediately. Ethereally soft and light, all the crevices in all the right places, a jolt of sugar. And then that distinctive concha flavor. Not a sweet-corn butter taste, but something more nuanced and full-bodied. The sort of flavor that instantly resurrects every joyful memory of Mexican panaderias you’ve managed to sock away over the years.

Although Suarez eventually moved back to Mexico, he taught young Jaime and his wife, Adriana, how to prepare two different conchas the true Mexican way. You can order a slightly lighter water-based concha or opt for a yeastier egg-based version, each glazed with your choice of flavors. You can’t go wrong either way, because El Dorado bakes them the old fashioned way, waiting 10 hours for each of these Mexican beauties to proof.

In fact, everything’s a labor of love here, including an equally impressive tres leches cake that boasts the most moisture per square centimeter yet defies laws of physics and somehow never crumbles. “Good baking is about consistency,” Montiel says. “By doing things the right way, we can re-create some wonderful memories of Mexico for our customers.”


Photo courtesy of El Dorado Bakery