Empanadas are Argentina’s favorite fast food. These little pastry parcels are sold almost everywhere and eaten by almost everybody, save the most loyal dieters. They’re chowed down during short lunch breaks, taken home after work for dinner, delivered by reckless scooter riders late into the night, and prepared lovingly in kitchens all over the country. Of course no fútbol game would be complete without beer and juicy empanadas.
Although originating from Spain, today empanadas are more ubiquitous in Argentina. Argentineans can’t live without them, and many foreign visitors soon find themselves addicted as well. Many empanada houses will offer the choice of oven-baked or fried empanadas.
Types of Argentinean Empanadas
In empanada specialty houses, the repulgue, or pattern of the pastry fold, helps to indicate the filling of each empanada. A chart will often be provided to guide the diner. Here is a guide to the most common varieties of empanadas served up in Argentina.
Carne suave – Meat (The basic mince meat empanada which also contains ingredients such as onion, egg, and sometimes olives)
Carne picante – Spicy Meat (a hotter version of the meat empanada)
Carne cortada a cuchillo – Knife-Cut Meat (An empanada made with diced beef instead of minced)
Jamón y queso – Ham and Cheese
Roquefort – Blue Cheese (sometimes with ham as well)
Queso y cebolla – Cheese and Onion
Champignon con queso y jerez – Mushrooms, cheese and sherry
Pollo – Chicken (Like the meat empanada, contains onion, egg, etc)
Atún – Tuna (some varieties are spicy, others not)
Humita – Sweetcorn cream
Choclo y queso – Corn and Cheese
Acelga – Swiss chard and ricotta
Capresse – Mozzarella, tomato and basil (like a capresse salad in empanada form)
Quatro Quesos – Four Cheeses
Calabreza – Cheese and hot salami
Verdura – Spinach or chard (usually in a Béchamel-like white sauce)
Where to Get the Best Argentina Empanadas
If traveling to the north of Argentina, you will find that the Northern provinces such as Salta, La Rioja, Catamarca and Tucumán have well-deserved reputations for having the country’s best empanadas, and every province has their own style of the snack food.
Here are some other Buenos Aires’ restaurants famed for their empanadas:
• La Morada is a porteño favorite for empanadas, with two locations — its original downtown/Monserrat location and a second locale in Barrio Norte. It’s also popular for delivery.
Hipolito Yrigoyen 778
• Pizza Güerrin is famous for their pizza, but the lively hole in the wall also has typical, savory empanadas.
Av. Corrientes 1368
•Ña Serapia is a typical bodegón across from Plaza Las Heras famous for its flaky empanadas. Favorites include the ‘La Porteña’ with raisins and olives, and the ‘Salteña’ style empanada.
Las Heras 3357,
•La Cuartito in Tribunales, is another place famed for its pizza but if stopping by their empanadas are worth trying as an appetizer at least.
• La Carbonera Venezuelan Empanadas offers something different from the typical Argentine empanada, this humble locale has Venezualan-style empanadas filled with ingredients such as black beans, plantain and cheese and they are accompanied by an ingredient that can be quite elusive in Argentina: hot sauce (it’s a miracle!) and guasacaca (avocado dressing).
El Salvador 4401
• La Cocina offers Catamarca-style empanadas, which can be hard to find in Buenos Aires. A house favorite is the ‘pickachu,’ a filling of cheese, onions and a ‘spicy’ sauce. Their ham and cheese empanadas are made with ricotta cheese in place of the usual soft cheese.
El Sanjuanino is rustic favorite popular with families that has also received accolades in the New York Times. They specialize in San Juan-style empanadas and diners are treated to live Argentine folkloric music.
Sanchez de Bustamonte 1788
José Hernández 2345
• The Stand is an American-Argentina fusion restaurant new on the empanadas scene in the neighborhood of Almagro. Some of their unusual empanada offerings include pepperoni and cheese, potato or curry chicken, lamp curry and bacon cheese burger. If those sound weird to your Argentine friends, have them drink a couple of the delicious pints to loosen their rigid palates.
Av. Córdoba 3528,
Vegan & Vegetarian Empanadas in Buenos Aires
• De Rosa is one of few places that can accommodate vegetarians and vegans on the hunt for empanadas they can eat, (most empanadas are made with beef fat). De Rosa offers lard free empanadas with fillings such as polenta, acelga (chard) and onion and peppers.