Located on the corner of East Lohman Avenue and South Mesquite Street, Lujan’s Bakery has become a familiar sight and a local flavor staple in the Las Cruces community, offering traditional Mexican baked goods and holiday favorites.
Lujan’s is one of the oldest bakeries in town. Originally owned by Alfredo Lujan, it first opened in April 1955. Around 1990, Enrique Sanchez and his wife, Delfina, who moved to Las Cruces from Mexico, took over the business. Enrique was a long-time employee of Lujan’s and bought the business when Alfredo decided to retire.
Since becoming the owners of Lujan’s Bakery, Enrique and Delfina have carried on many of Lujan’s traditional recipes, as well as added some of their own.
“These are family passed-down traditions,” said Alma Sanchez, bakery manager and daughter of Enrique and Delfina. “My dad comes from a family of bakers, so my dad got a lot of these recipes from my grandpa.”
Lujan’s Bakery is family-run, which Alma said is one of the unique aspects of the shop. “We’re a pretty big family,” Alma said. “My parents have been married for going on 46 years. They’ve got four kids and 24 grandkids and two great grandchildren . . . We all love the bakery. The bakery’s our thing.”
For the Sanchez family, the bakery has become more than simply a place to make a living. It has become a second home. “Our oldest baker has been here since he was 15,” Alma said. “He’s in his 40s now. He’s been here all his life.”
Alma’s former brother-in-law and her nieces and nephews also work in the shop, along with her five children, who earn their allowance by helping where needed. Alma’s older sister, Olga, runs Leo’s Bakery, a sister shop located at 1310 E. Madrid Ave., with the help of her husband and children. The bakery sells many of the same items as Lujan’s Bakery. “It’s all family-oriented,” Alma said. “That’s what’s fun about it.”
Familiar faces and flavor
Lujan’s Bakery attracts many regulars and people who return to the shop after several years for nostalgic reasons, like 50-year-old Las Cruces resident Javier Castaneda.
“I come here because of my dad,” Javier said. “My dad brought me here as a kid, so it’s kind of just to remember what he used to like and just the unique pastries that they have to offer here.”
Some of the most popular items at Lujan’s Bakery include the marranitos (Mexican gingerbread pigs), empanadas, and the pan de huevo (Mexican sweet bread). “It’s the three things everybody always comes to get,” Alma said.
Holiday items are also popular, such as the biscochos or biscochitos in December and the rosca de reyes (Three Kings Bread) in January. “Last year we sold so many [rosca de reyes], I’m pretty sure it went up to about 3,000 in one weekend from Friday to Sunday,” Alma said.
Rosca de reyes is an oval-shaped sweet Mexican bread decorated with colorful candied or crystalized fruits. It is traditionally eaten 12 days after Christmas, on Jan. 6, Día de los Reyes Magos, or the Day of the Three Wisemen.
“A lot of people like them filled, so we always recommend you order those ahead,” Alma said. “We fill them with caramel, cream, cherry — whatever you want it filled with, we’ll fill it.”
Taste it for yourself
Lujan’s Bakery needs at least two days’ notice for any pre-ordered item.
While biscochos are hot sellers at the bakery during the Christmas holiday, Alma said Lujan’s keeps these popular Mexican sugar cookies stocked year-round, so customers shouldn’t need to pre-order them.
“It’s the state cookie, so people come in here just for that,” she said.
Along with a wide assortment of cookies, Lujan’s Bakery offers doughnuts, fritters, churros, rolls, and a range of other traditional Mexican baked goods, and the Sanchez family is always on the lookout for new ideas.
“We pick up things from different bakeries,” Alma said. “We’ll be like ‘Hey, we’ve never seen this, we can make it.’ We have Minion cookies and Ninja Turtle cookies; the guys saw it on Food Network and they started making them.”
Everything at Lujan’s is made fresh from scratch. “The only machine we have back there is the cutter for the bread and the mixer,” Alma said. “Everything else, the guys do it by hand. That’s why some things are shaped different from the ones next to it, and some are bigger than the others even though they were made out of the same batch.” For those who have never tried Lujan’s baked goods, Alma said she recommends visiting the store in person. “It’s better to come in and look,” she said. “You never know. You might find something you actually didn’t come for and get that instead.”
Lujan’s Bakery is located at 442 E. Lohman Ave. For information, call 575-526-8720 or visit them on Facebook.
Posted by LasCruces.com