It’s a true Latin American experience when customers enter Leslie’s Mexican Cafe & Bakery in Springfield. The eatery is filled with hand-painted decor, bright colors, and custom-made items such as piñatas and candies. Owner Anabel Verdin learned to bake at a young age from watching her father work at four different bakeries. The Reynosa, Mexico, native immigrated to Texas with her family in 1992 before moving to Missouri in 1996.

At Leslie’s, customers enjoy an abundance of made-to-order Latin American food for lunch or dinner. Tortas, gorditas, and El Salvadoran papusas stuff—ed with meat, cheese, and beans are all on the menu. Sopes—freshly fried corn masa boats served with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, queso fresco, and sour cream— come vegetarian or with meat. A bu—et with more than 30 items and a toppings bar, an extensive line of fresh-fruit juices and Mexican sodas, and a large assortment of desserts and special-occasion cakes are available every day. Top sellers are the street tacos that go for $1 on Taco Tuesdays, tamales, and pan dulce, a Mexican sweet bread. Tortuga sandwiches, grilled and served on homemade bread, are also popular options.

“These are all homemade, authentic items made fresh that are not found at other restaurants in the area,” says manager Anna Stalevski.—Pamela Clifton

1915 South Glenstone Avenue • 417-888-0557 •