Strolling along the Centro Historico’s Avenue 16 de Septiembre, named for Mexico’s independence day, not far from the amazing Mercado de San Juan Pugibet where you can buy everything from gourmet imported cheeses and Asian greens to a weird selection of exotic meats including lion and skunk, we stumbled across what from the outside looked like a wedding cake shop. On entering we came face to face with one of the greatest arrays of cakes, pastries and biscuits we all agreed we had ever seen. Welcome to the Pasteleria Ideal, a place which, rather Hotel California-like, you can check out anytime you like but you can never (willingly) leave – or leave empty-handed.
The idea is that customers take one of their big trays, then wander around piling it up with whatever takes their fancy from the superabundance of sweet treats, then head to the cashier to pay the bill for an amount described by some impressed online reviewers as “miniscule”. From a quick check of the TripAdvisor site I selected the following impressions from three pages of rave reviews….”Is there anywhere in the world a more impressive bakery?”; “This bakery has everything you could ask for”; “You can smell this beautiful bakery before you see it!”; “A gourmand’s heaven”; “This huge place packed at almost every hour of the day.”
On seeing these pictures again I’m wondering at our restraint in walking out of Pasteleria Ideal with only one pastry apiece to eat with our coffee.