by Ian McNulty
Norma’s Sweets Bakery (3221 Georgia St., Kenner, 467-4309) in Kenner has long been a favorite backstreet find for Mexican pastries, Cuban sandwiches and even the occasional guava-filled king cake. Now, the same family owners have a second location in Mid-City.
This new Norma’s Sweets Bakery (2925 Bienville St., 309-5401) is a larger store with a full range of Latin American groceries, including a butcher section with cuts of meat and bins of hot chicharones (or Latin American cracklin’s).
Norma Castillo opened the original Norma’s in 2003, and it has since grown into a supplier of baked goods for a network of small Latin groceries and restaurants around the area. Her son Jose Castillo explains that customer demand prompted the family to open this second location.
“We have a lot of customers who drive to Kenner from the West Bank and other places, so now in Mid-City we’re more central for everyone,” he says.
Like the original, this new Norma’s bakes bread, pies, cakes and pastries on premises. In addition to the sweets, there are grab-and-go savory options for a snack or a quick lunch, like pasteles filled with beef or chicken and a variety of tamales from different traditions around Latin America.
“We’re Honduran but we have a little bit of everything Latin here,” says Jose Castillo.
Part of that variety is the Cuban sandwich on house-made bread, long a favorite at the Norma’s in Kenner. The new location makes them too, and it also has a much larger kitchen for more hot food. The offerings change up all the time, and on a recent lunch visit the deli was making pupusas, grilled short ribs, stewed chicken and Spanish rice.
A few years ago, Norma Castillo came up with a Latin American twist on the traditional New Orleans king cake, filling the cake with sweet guava and cream cheese. Though the bakery didn’t make them last year, Jose Castillo says he plans to prepare them at the new shop for this coming carnival season.
Norma’s Sweets Bakery is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday.