The spirit of the Market in Larimer Square lives on at Lala’s bakery

Editor’s note: This is part of The Know’s series, Staff Favorites. Each week, we will offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems). 

The text messages and Instagram picture exchanges would betray any attempts at denying how often two other Denver Post reporters and I eat a cake from Lala’s Bakery, probably more than our doctors and nutritionists need to know.

The Arvada bakery was founded by Audrey Daniels, Laura Madrid and Vivian Villagrana, three former bakers at The Market in Larimer Square who lost their jobs when the legendary cafe closed for good during the pandemic. Soon after, they banded together to open Lala’s.

Fellow reporters Saja Hindi, Elizabeth Hernandez and I ate our first Lala’s cake — peach almond — during Ramadan in 2020. The three of us had decided to gather for a pandemic iftar to share the experience with Saja.

“You never forget your first,” Hernandez said.

It was a match made in cake heaven: We wanted dessert and these women were opening a business selling just that. Now, an iftar dinner with a Lala’s cake is an annual tradition.

We also order Lala’s for every birthday, holiday and sometimes just because we want one after a rough week at work.

We counted the number and varieties we’ve ordered: 15 cakes, 11 styles.

“That’s not bad,” Hindi said. “We don’t eat them once a month, maybe just every other month. And we’ve known them for two years.”

Here’s more of what Hernandez and Hindi said about the cakes and why we love them.

Hernandez: “Before I even eat it, the aesthetics are so … they look like art. They’re beautiful. Their arrangement of the fruit is so pretty. We thought surely it won’t taste as good as it looks. To me, it tastes better than a homemade cake.”

Hindi: “What I remember is the three of us started sending Instagram photos from Lala’s every time they had a beautiful cake, which is often. During Ramadan, we were like, OK, now we have an excuse. We have to order this. It was beautiful. The fruit was fresh. The flavors went really well together. And we fell in love.

“I also love that it’s a Latina-owned bakery. They were able to take something bad that happened during the pandemic and turned it into something wonderful.”

Hernandez: “My favorite would either be the mango or the peach almond.”

Hindi: “My favorites would be those two or that strawberry Black Forest.”

Hernandez: “Oooohhhh, that might be a contender.”

Hindi: “You know how much I love mangoes. It’s my request every year for my birthday.”

Hernandez: “It would be one thing if it was a vanilla cake with mango on it. But it’s not. It’s really mango. That frosting tastes like a mango.”

Hernandez: “I’m a Halloween girl and we had a Halloween birthday party in March. We wanted a Lala’s and wondered if they would do something Halloween-ish or spooky. It was a surprise. We gave them creative control. It was a goth cake — black on the outside and had skulls and roses and red accents. I really enjoyed that they said they loved being able to have artistic freedom. For me, that was really fun to know they got to do what they wanted to do and let their artistic talents come out. Their passion really paid off.”

Hindi: “I thought it was beautiful and fit the theme perfectly. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen. And, once again, delicious.”

Lala’s Bakery operates out of the Rocky Mountain Commissary, 6381 W. 56th Ave., Arvada. All cakes must be ordered online and paid for in advance: https://springflingatlalasbakery.com/

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