Eating empanadas is very common in certain latitudes of the world, especially down South, but is not a regular thing over here. I was on the search for something cheap and tasty to eat on the go because of two important things: first of all, I had almost no money in my pockets and had also very little time to do it.
Eat Empanadas On The Go!
There I was, in China Town, walking down Augusta Avenue feeling that my stomach was giving me that sign of being desperate. I work a lot as a freelancer photographer and as such, my incomes are not always steady throughout the year.
This was one of those moments in which I was a little desperate because of the “in-between paychecks” situation that freelancers have in which you continue to work and produce, but you haven´t yet got paid.
Anyways, back to the place I want to recommend. I am a traveler (hence, freelancer) by nature and have been to South America a couple of times.
My last trip involved some empanada-lovers like Chile and Argentina. They do take it as a tradition and hold championships to select the best empanadas in each country.
Competition is fierce and they fight each other a lot to be on top of the game. Some provinces have some particular flavors while others have a diverse set of ingredients.
If you have never had empanadas, they are quite a discovery. The idea behind them is to wrap some kind of filling into dough that is like a salty puff pastry.
The result is like this mini tart that´s completely closed and very tasty (usually). The combination is awesome and it allows room for as many flavors as the creator (the cook) wants to.
Since the filling can be as diverse, eating one kind or the other really makes a difference.
In most Latin American restaurants, it is kind of a substitute to eating pizza, but in this case I discovered they can be awesome for eating on the go, like taking them with you and eating while walking.
Recommended And Cheap
The place I got my empanadas at was called Jumbo Empanadas and it promotes them as the premium Chilean food. That is the first mistake, they are Argentinian. They also offer Inka Cola to go with them, which is either Chilean or Argentinian, it´s Peruvian!
To finish up this nationalities salad they made, they also offer Humita, which is a Argentinian/Bolivian meal; made of corn served in the Chala, which is the corn´s shell.
All these things made me giggle as soon as I walked in. the owner is an elderly woman who is incredibly nice and made me feel comfortable right away, so I purchased the beef empanadas after trying my Spanish with her a little bit.
I inquired about the nationalities salad she had made and she responded just shrugging her shoulders. I paid with the money I had in my pocket and left with a smile, two empanadas and an Inka Cola for under $10.
The first one I tried was the beef one and it was nothing like the ones I tried while travelling. It was not tasteless, but it was definitely weak. They had the right ingredients, but lacked some of the European meets South America ingredients like oregano and parsley.
It was good for my hunger, but nothing to write home about. The cheese one was something else, because it was melted and delicious.
It was, of course, geographically incorrect, since those are not made down in South America, but it tasted much better than the (geographically correct) beef one.
Eating a full lunch for under 10 dollars is not an easy task nowadays. I was hungry, didn´t have much money and was in China Town where everything costs much more. I do recommend this place despite all the things food lovers like me found as “incorrect”.