Betsy came home from college to participate in the Kansas caucus last weekend. She arrived Friday afternoon, and we headed off to run an errand at the library. On the way home, we debated stopping for Sonic Happy Hour (our usual), or checking out a little place called Sweet Tee’s, recommended to me by one of my readers.
We decided on Sweet Tee’s, but when we pulled into the parking lot to check it out, our noses were hijacked by the delectable scent of fresh pastries. We followed our instincts, and stumbled on a treasure: The San Luis Panaderia, tucked into the opposite corner of the strip mall.
The fact that Betsy is a Spanish major gives me courage at times like these, because I know she can bridge any language divide that might occur. We did not hesitate to check out the bakery.
The shop was empty when we entered, though we could hear people talking in the back. We checked out the full trays of colorful pastries and guessed at what they might be. Betsy’s guesses were more accurate, of course, but I did my best.
Eventually a man came out of the back to help us, and I asked which item was the shop’s specialty. I’m learning to ask that question of waiters and shopkeepers: “What is your favorite menu item? Does the shop have a specialty?” He pointed to the trays of big round buns covered with pastel frosting. We took two. Then he showed us the refrigerator case with its boxed slices of Tres Leches cake, and on the shelf below, freshly made flour tortillas.
The tortillas were the real find. Burrito-sized and stretchy like the ones at Chipotle, they had a flavor and texture you can’t find in grocery stores. A package of ten did not last long at my house. I can’t wait to go back for more. I can picture myself this summer, stopping at the bakery on my way home from the farmer’s market. What feasts we’ll have!
I returned to Sweet Tee’s on Tuesday afternoon, skipped the sandwich menu for an iced tea, and settled there to work a while. The place is warm and welcoming, with a variety of seating. While I studied at a high table, two young women chatted in easy chairs by the window. Near the back of the spacious shop I noticed a shelf of board games and coloring books. At Sweet Tee’s, the emphasis seems to be on community. “Come in and stay a while,” it seems to say.
While I sipped my tea, a nearby customer struck up a conversation with an artist who was hanging her work on the walls. As they discussed her whimsical photographs, her gaze swept around to include me, too. She didn’t mind talking art and business in such a friendly place. (You can find more of Linsey McAfee’s work here.)
You can find Sweet Tee’s and San Luis Bakery at the corner of Santa Fe and Mur-Len Road in Olathe, around the corner from the Payless Discount Foods grocery. Not a glamorous part of town, to be sure, but well-worth the trip for warm community and yummy baked goods.