A Taste of Home, Wherever You’re From
Los Ranchos Bakery has big city vibe with neighborhood charm
One of the joys of cities with a higher population density than Albuquerque is the neighborhood bakery. Be it Europe or just back in the Eastern states, the local bakery often has the pulse of the immediate surroundings. Neighbors and regulars bump into each other and the delicious scent of all the baked goodness becomes part of the sensory tapestry of place and time.
Here in the West, where things are built out instead of up, we're rarely within walking distance of a "local" bakery—which is a shame. If we're lucky, a short drive is just the excuse we need to pop in. Smack dab in the middle of the Fourth Street renovation is Los Ranchos Bakery. While there's always something to grab-and-go, it's not a typical breakfast or lunch sit-down spot. They have a few tables, and you're more than welcome to sit and eat—but as a neighborhood bakery, the menu is built around baked goods, and I'd wager the business truly lives on call-ahead pre-orders. Not everything is available every day, but anything can be ordered ahead with advance notice.
If you're popping in for a quick coffee ($1.50) or some sweet treats for the office shindig, the display case holds the daily offerings. The sweets are hard to ignore. I took a mini peach cobbler ($2) and, like goods baked in a slightly more European mold, there's nothing overpowering about the sugar. The fresh peaches kept their shape in the sweet, gooey filling, and the cobbler top carried the dusting of spice and texture in each bite. I was tempted by most everything in the case, but definitely needed to check out the scones. So often forgotten in the world of breakfast pastries, the scone is the effortless liaison between sweet and savory, and can work perfectly with eggs, or as a stand-in for a doughnut. The underlying base of Los Ranchos Bakery's scones is truly what carries the day—be they savory or sweet. The dough is dense and fulfilling, and the flavors layer perfectly into the crumbly treat.
In the case of the sweeter scones, there's often some powdered sugar or a simple, silky icing to set them apart in taste and appearance. For example, the blueberry scone ($2) was generously marbled through with berries, as was the blackberry scone ($2). Both were very similar in color, but the blackberry was dusted with powdered sugar. The cherry cheesecake scone ($2) was dotted with sweet cherries and drizzled with a simple, creamy sugar icing, and while not as sweet as typical morning pastries, I'd bet dollars-to-scones they'll be crowd-pleasers. I couldn't help but pinch off a corner, even before getting to the door.
With the savory scones, it's the salt and spice of whatever is mixed in that punctuates the dough, and the luscious blend of ingredients makes for a great light breakfast. The green chile cheddar scone ($2) was peppered with baked-in bits of chopped green chile, and melted cubes of cheese veining throughout. With the cheddar bacon scone ($2) it was small hunks of bacon that accompanied the cheese. I've tried, and I can't pick between them—both are superb—and the next time I get some, it will be to make them into a "scones-
For lunch, they do offer a sandwich of the day ($6). There's no regular schedule, and it changes every couple of days (whenever the fixings run out), but if you're willing to try whatever's on offer, my guess is you won't be disappointed. I had a BBQ pork belly sandwich, and it had sumptuous chunks of pork belly cut into bite-sized pieces and smothered in a silky, smoky sauce. It was served on a couple slices of dry, airy sourdough, with a small bed of fresh lettuce leaves, and everything about the sandwich screamed homemade in the best way. I only planned on a few bites, but ended up eating the whole thing. Next time I'd take an extra side of sauce—as it would soak perfectly into the salty bread and the bread is certainly sturdy enough to hold up to it.
To try out the pre-order side of things, I went with a peach pie ($20). Perfect for your next get-together dessert, it was an architectural masterpiece straight out of Hollywood central casting—truly one of the most beautiful pies I've seen. Similar to the scones and the cobbler, the combination of peaches and some large granulated sugar atop the crust carry the sweet of the pie, so the fruit and the technique remain front and center, allowing room for the slightly savory crust to shine in each bite. As a treat for a special occasion, it's hard to top—and they can make just about any pie you'd want if the fruit is in season.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the thing that put Los Ranchos Bakery on my radar in the first place: an out-of-this-world vegan carrot cake ($20). In a head-to-head taste test, I am not sure I could identify the vegan versus the non-vegan one—it was that good! As a call-ahead order for an event with disparate dining preferences, it was a home run—with non-vegans gobbling up portions (and even going back for seconds), their complaints rendered moot by their first bite. I knew right then that I'd stumbled on to something special. So brave the construction and pop in—or better still, order in advance to get exactly what you want, when you want it.
6920 Fourth Street NW, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque
Hours: Mon-Sun, 7am-3pm
Alibi Recommends: Scones (sweet and/or savory), vegan carrot cake or a fruit pie—pre-order just to be sure!
Vibe: A small, humble space where the baked treats stand front-and-center