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Jul 21, 2013 02:09 PM

3G's Cafe in Palo Alto: Bolivian: salteñas, Cuñape, pan de arroz

3G's Cafe in Palo Alto is a block away from California Ave: far enough off the main drag that I've never noticed it until recently. It's a Bolivian cafe that serves a few items that I recommend: salteñas, cuñape, and pan de arroz. The salteñas are like empanadas; I got one filled with beef stew, which is nicely spiced. It's worth trying once. Some other items are very addictive, and worth a trip:

The cuñape is a cheese pastry that is light and airy, yet simultaneously super-chewy. Made with yucca flour.

The pan de arroz is like a flattened biscuit: very savory and flaky.

Also recommended: a slice of the dulce de leche roll. It's even better than it looks.

This place is an inexpensive reprieve from the rest of Palo Alto: $4 each for the salteñas, and $2 each for the cuñape and pan de arroz. The Cafe is closed Saturdays, but open Sundays for the Farmer's Market crowd. You can get a 5% discount if you "check in" to that other website.

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  1. from the pictures of the insides of the various different salteñas (yelp), they look very promising. the best examples generally surpass the empañadas found around here. do you know if the proprietors are from La Paz ? thanks for the report.

      1. Thanks for posting about 3G's. I spotted it a few months ago walking back to the car after lunching at Terrone. I talked to them about the style of salteña, mostly wanting to know if these were soupy/juicy inside. They promised me they would be if baked to order (instead of the ones in the hot box) or if I bought the frozen ones to finish baking at home. So you've reminded me that I've still got them in the freezer to try!

        I also bought an alfajor. And it's not recommended.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I can report back that after being in my freezer for close to a year, the beef salteña was still fine. I had bought an unbaked one to cook at home for maximum juiciness, and it was indeed soupy inside.

          The cuñape did not fare as well, tasting rancid from too long in the freezer, and not unexpected. I'll have to get a fresh one to try.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            I have found that the cuñapes don't really last more than about 2 hours max; they lose their super-chewiness. In fact, if another batch of cuñapes is about to come out of the oven, it's best to wait for one of those.

        2. Tried the chicken salteña, cuñape, pan de arroz and alfajor. of the 4, loved the cuñape the most. its cheesy in a very light way, and the yucca flour is soft and chewy inside giving it a good texture.

          the salteña seemed to be on the salty side, quite yummy. also liked the pan de arroz and the alfajor quite a bit.

          all in all, what a lovely little cafe hidden on Cambridge Ave facing the parking structure. they have a nice little patio in the back. the place is spotless with very friendly owners who are happy to explain the Bolivian specialties.

          i went on two Sundays and it was kinda empty. Let's hope more of the farmer's market crowd discover them so they keep open on sundays!

          1. I went last month to grab some items for a work lunch. I took home leftovers and ended up passing by again for more of the cunape.

            The winner with my boys was the cunape. I have one GF child and he loved it! Much better than the Chebe mix (can't stand those) and on par with the better ones I have have. The Saltenas received good reviews, except my husband found them a bit sweet. He wanted a spicy condiment to go with it - maybe I missed that? Overall a real gem in Palo Alto I think.