October 1, 2023

El Bolillo Bakery on Airline across from the Airline Farmer's Market

El Bolillo on Airline. 

Back in the day, about a decade or more ago, there were a bunch of panaderias in the Heights. Two on North Main, two on Yale, etc. But there was something disappointing about all of them. Like the owners and staff didn't care. Messy cabinets, paint peeling on the walls, a kind of here we are, we're a Mexican bakery so this is how we are kind of attitude. Kirk Michaelis, Galveston born, had a doughnut shop and his staff of bakers told him that if he would put together a panaderia they would come and make all the traditional breads of Mexico. He established the first El Bolillo (which is actually a pun, since a "bolillo" in addition to being a dinner roll is also slang for a "white guy") and went out of his way to make it very nice and hospitable. 

Soon, people were shopping at only his place and the other panaderias went out of business. Was this cultural appropriation by a white guy? I say no. He just made a cleaner,better, more friendly venue for patrons and they supported him. With the success of the first location (where El Rey meat market is now...as an aside, this is where I buy my chorizo as it is made in house from a family recipe of one of the butchers) he built his new location across the street and went out of his way to make it pretty, with murals on the wall, lots of space, and a large assortment of the breads of Mexico. I got to have some input. 

On one of the walls, the artist whom he had hired was painting a woman at her metate. But in her hands was a rolling pin. I showed the artist what a metlapil should look like and she repainted over the rolling pin!

Kirk survived a cancer lymphoma.

Kirk knows how to juggle.

He has three daughters that went to Nashville to start a music career as a trio. Under the name Michaelis.

For me, like for so many others, El Bolillo is my Heightw default when I want breads and I'm not baking my own.

Although they sell flour tortillas, my preferred source for flour tortillas by the dozen is actually Spanish Flowers, where Airline dead ends into North Main. Less greasy. And I also love the flour tortillas at Trigo's, but that isn't in the Heights and is a story for another time.

Many years ago, when he was just building the new place, Kirk and I did a walk through his production area. I did a video of one of his bakers forming bolillos and to this day, it is the YouTube video that I've had the most hits on. Go figure.

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