Looking Back: A Local Mexican Bakery (Panaderia)

Little Pigs

One of the first times I went out to the Berryessa Flea Market (now the San Jose Flea Market) in the early 1970s, I came across a vendor selling bags of "puerquitos" (little gingerbread pigs). They were something like $2.00 for a bag of five or six and quite tasty.

In the late 1970s, I rediscovered the puerquitos at Guadalajara Market on Post Street in Downtown San Jose. (There were also locations on Empire Street and Santa Clara Street). Guadalajara Market was not only a market, but a taqueria and a panaderia all in one. They made the best burritos I've ever had. Their pastries were also excellent, with my favorite being "empanadas de calabaza" (pumpkin turnovers).

Fifty Years on Willow Street

La Sonorense Bakery at 163 Willow Street in Downtown San Jose first appears in the 1969 City Directory, which means it may have first opened in 1968. They were first listed as La Sonorense Delicatessan. "Sonorense" means "Sonoran" or from the Mexican state of Sonora.

My Experience

I began going there around 1980. I remember a friendly old fellow named Auggie, who I understand was the first owner. Later there was a nice woman named Consuelo.

On the Menu

Like the Guadalajara, they're a combination market, bakery, and taqueria. Baked goods include bread, sweet breads (pan dulce), iced cake (sliced), various turnovers (empanadas), including calabaza (pumpkin), manzana (apple), de leche (milk custard), cookies, macaroons, puerquitos, and even traditional donuts.

Building Origins

The building itself was constructed about 1948 with two storefronts, 161 and 163 Willow Street. The first businesses to move in were a cleaners, a printer, and an accountant. (I'm not sure how the space was divided.)

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