Dagger: “Adios El Latino Bakery”

el latino
3314 11th St, NW

A reader reports:

“Every few years, readers would write you and ask “where is that great smell coming from on 11th and Lamont Street in Columbia Heights?” The answer of course was El Latino Bakery.

It saddens me to report that El Latino Bakery is no more. My source from the block said that rent was raised and so they decided it was a good time to move to a bigger space in Maryland. They even had to cut the bars and wall in the front to move the ovens out.”

This is incredibly sad, and inevitable news… It follows news of the closing of Arthur’s across the street. I look forward to learning who will take over the space and I believe there is a strong likelihood it will be something cool – but now is time to grieve. RIP that sweet, sweet smell.

24 Comment

  • Word on the street is that they moved out to Hyattsville.

  • It is baffling why someone didn’t think to open up a shop window to sell pan dulce and cakes directly from the source. The smell alone of sweet baking sugar could sell the place out. Sorry to see it go.

    • +1
      I wish they could have sold straight to the public, i would have frequent it. I hope they do well in their new space and that something cool comes to this block.

      • They did sell to the public. All you had to do was open the door and ask for what you wanted. The guys that worked there were super nice. I used to by concha’s (5 for $2.) and rolls (3 for 1) all the time. Even gave you bags.

        • I really wished i knew that before.

          • Yeah, it took me along time to figure that out, too. I only went twice, I always felt odd since it wasn’t really a storefront, but they were very nice.

            Sorry to see a place that makes stuff move completely out…

    • I had the same thought every time I walked by.

    • +1 I loved the smell but have never known where to buy the bread. Getting it fresh out of the oven would have been amazing.

      • Egad

        They would sell bread to the public if you went into the store and asked. $2 for a bag of fresh conchas! Ahhh! But yeah, when I saw that they were closed I was hoping that they were going to renovate and build an official little storefront there. It is definitely the end of an era but I’m happy that they found a place with more space and a real parking lot for their trucks and customers.

  • Anonynon

    Ugh. The best smells.

  • Been awhile since I commented here, given that I’m now a few years gone from CH, but had to chime in on this one. Lived right up the street from El Latino bakery for six years, and I was lucky enough to wake up to that lovely smell on too many occasions to count. They will be missed. Although this was inevitable … that space is just WAY too valuable as potential retail frontage for its current use as a space that could be replicated in any location, and I imagine that it’s only a matter of time before a developer adds a few floors of condos above and higher-end retail options on the ground floor. If the city/neighborhood is smart, whenever that happens, they will find a way to get the developer to pay to upgrade the unofficial adjacent dog park — it would be more valuable for condos to border on an attractive, clean space in any event, so there is incentive to do so, and it’s long overdue.

    Between this place and Arthur’s, though, it’s indeed sad to see the last vestige of the old 11th Street (some of which, of course, will not be missed, but some of which certainly will be) disappear …

    • I live on 11th and I really like(d) the laid back, homey, vibe.

      Incidentally, I’m right across from that dog park, so I can tell you they probably won’t build on that site because the metro runs under it (we often see metro workers opening those metal grates to do late night work underground.)

      This is actually a blessing in my eyes because I happen to think that not every available spot on 11th needs to be condos + high end shops/eateries. It’s nice to have non-retail establishments like the bakery, the little no frills hair salons that dot 11th, and public space/parks that folks can enjoy for free. I enjoy the newer shops, bars, and such but I think having a mix is what makes the area so charming.

      I don’t want 11th street to become 14th street where every spot on every block seems to be occupied by luxury condos with a place that sells $10 salads and a soul cycle on the first floor. A little of that is fine, but it can really get out of hand and change the feel of a neighborhood.

      • +1 from your neighbor

      • I didn’t mean to suggest build on the green space — I do think eventually the existing footprint of the bakery space will be replaced by a bigger building, including residences. It’s inevitable — just too valuable a space. If that happens, the city should leverage any long-term development to try to get some money to improve the quasi-dog park space. Very difficult to do since Metro owns the space, but I bet there is some way to do so, and if so, to extract money from any development on the adjoining plot in the meantime. I agree with your general sentiment, by the way, but I do think that condos built above the bakery space is almost inevitable, at some point.

      • I couldn’t agree more.

    • Hi all! Re: the the dog park at 11th and park st – a group of us dog owners in the area is actually trying to work to get the space adopted as an official city dog park, hopefully complete with much-needed improvements and upgrades. the land is own by WMATA but a recent City Paper article stated that WMATA would be willing to lease the land. we’ve formed a dc nonprofit called 11th and Bark (we were out spreading the word at CoHi day!) and we’ve been in touch with Brianne Nadeau and other folks as we start the ball rolling on this process. There’s not much on there yet, but please check out our website at: http://www.11andbark.com.

  • I’m sure more small plates or a wine bar will be on the way.

    • of course. Pretty much anything new to open up in DC is either a chain or some trendy craft whatever place run by some fat hipster chef. Having lived around these areas my whole life, I am always impressed that the market can continue to sustain so many new high end places around town when just maybe 10 years ago the area was almost exclusively working class or low income except for a few “pioneers”. I clearly am out of the loop.

  • Yep, I live next door to here (my windows back up to the bakery) and noticed the lack of delicious smells late last week and heard a lot of clanging about early this week later at night, like equipment was being removed. Now it’s official 🙁 Sad. I wonder what the fate of the Chinese place and laundromat is?

  • I am so sad to hear this. Although would not be sad if the laundromat and the loiterers also left.

  • total end of an era.

  • Well damn! I used to live in a shabby slum of an apartment behind the bakery/laundromat on Lamont. The single redeeming quality about that hell hole, well aside from the location and cheap rent, was that it shared ventilation with the bakery. Every morning I would wake up to the smell of baked goods. Sorry to see them good but definitely inevitable. I imagine that whole corner will be torn down soon enough and a multi-story apartment built in it place.

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