Over the summer, Mike Mulhall and George Algarin opened Merengue Bakery & Café in the former Old Town Monrovia home of Cajun Way and Frank & Joe’s Southern Smokehouse, specializing in Cuban food. Mulhall owned a Pasadena fitness club and Algarin was a member. One of Algarin’s family members owned La Gran Via Bakery in Inglewood, so he learned to bake Cuban delicacies there. Mulhall sold his fitness club a few years back and was ready for another entrepreneurial venture in the San Gabriel Valley. The friends partnered and Merengue was born.
The duo’s mission is to offer “food that’ll make you dance.” At breakfast, that includes a chorizo and cheese omelette on Cuban bread, a Cuban donut that goes by “Cuban toast,” and a quiche of the day. Later in the day, you’ll find Cuban classics like ham croquetas, Cubano and medianoche sandwiches, and papas rellenas – mashed potatoes filled with ground beef. Expect Merengue balls, breaded cream cheese balls with guava in the middle. If that’s not enough of a guava fix, Merengue also features guava rolls and guava smoothies.
Mulhall describes the décor as “warm, clean and comfortable.” The space is fronted by oversized windows that provide clear views of the San Gabriel Mountains. The outdoor patio supports 30 seats. In December, assuming Merengue scores a beer and wine license, Mulhall and Algarin plan to add live music and a sangria bar.