Argentinian pastry fans will soon have another place to convene following the grand opening of Lolita Bakery Café on El Camino Real in San Mateo Dec. 18.

The grand opening will culminate years of hard work for owner Silvia Leiva Browne that draws on her family’s baking experience and history in Argentina.

“It’s really a dream come true, and something that I always wanted to do from the beginning, but it wasn’t that easy,” Browne said ahead of the opening.

The new store at 3790 S. El Camino Real, Suite 101, will add to her other retail shop at the Hillsdale Shopping Center. However, the new site just north of 38th Avenue will have its own production site and a larger retail space so people can sit. The Hillsdale location is 300 square feet, while the new location is 1,500 square feet.

The store will offer the same menu of pastries, including its famous freshly baked Argentine Alfajores. The popular item features two shortbread cookies sandwiched together between dulce de leche. Lolita’s offers many other flavors dipped in chocolate, rolled in coconut shavings or toasted almonds. Some are covered in sweet lavender and lemon glaze with vanilla filling, while others have chocolate or raspberry filling. Additional offerings include palmiers (elephant ears), tarts, pies, croissants, bread pudding, brownies, lemon bars and sweet bread. Savory Argentine empanadas filled with potato, peas and olives, chicken, beef, ham and cheese, mushrooms, sweet potato and bean, squash and corn and spinach and cheese are available. In the future, Browne will add to the menu once the store is more established after the opening.

Browne was introduced to baking by her mother, Dolores “Lolita” Gonzalez de Leiva, who is also the inspiration for the bakery’s name. Browne comes from a family of bakers who owned a popular store they started in 1965 in Cosquin, Argentina, a town of about 50,000 people near Córdoba. When she was younger, she focused more on customer service and sales, preferring to avoid baking. She fell into baking in her younger 20s after he mother taught her the recipes, falling in love with the art of baking.

“I was raised in a bakery,” Browne said. “I got the experience and was exposed to the whole operations while growing up.”

Browne came to the United States in 1996, intending to go to a culinary academy and open a business as soon as she arrived, but it was not feasible because of costs. Instead, she got married and started a family, a priority for her, while working in a kitchen and as a massage therapist for 10 years.

She remained committed to opening a business and started selling at the Burlingame Farmers’ Market and local stores on the Peninsula like Draeger’s Market in 2014. In 2018, she opened her first retail shop at Hillsdale, still motivated to keep going to let the world know about her pastries and products.

“I just kept on going, not alone, always with the support of my husband, son, family and family legacy,” Browne said.

While the pandemic slowed her down in finding a new store, she did not give up and continued to look in downtown San Mateo and other places along El Camino Real. She finally found their current location along El Camino Real in March. For the last five months, she has been working on getting the store ready with the help of her husband and family, happy to be part of the Peninsula business community.

“We feel like we belong here,” Browne said. “It was very important for me to find a place in San Mateo.”

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102


Curtis Driscoll covers transportation and the cities of San Mateo, Foster City, Belmont and Half Moon Bay. See my other articles:

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