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Jul 15, 2007 11:03 AM

Alemany Farmers Market: Chilean Empanadas and All Star Tamales

I visited the Alemany Farmer's Market yesterday for the first time...definitely a nice change of pace from Saturday at the Ferry Building.

We bought some yellow squashes, a melon, some leeks and a peach, but most of the time was spent eating breakfast.

We started off at the coffee stand that sells alfajores...I was buying a coffee when I saw someone else order an empanada. These looked great, and my friend and I each ordered one. As I chatted with the woman running the stand, I found out she is Chilean, and as I had suspected, the empanadas were Chilean empanadas.

I spent a year living in Chile (and ate LOTS of empanadas) and I can definitely say these were the best Chilean empanadas I have had outside of Chile. In fact, the only complaint I have is that I thought they were too small! I should have ordered two!

The empanadas were reheated from cold to just a bit warm. The baked crust had a nice balance of crunch and softness, and wasn't overly thick. In other words, good crust to filling ratio. The filling consists of ground beef, sweet sauteed onions and raisins, along with the traditional piece of hard boiled egg and an olive. I possibly heard mention that they sometimes offer other types of empanadas, but I didn't confirm this. Does anyone know?

Next stop was the All-Star Tamale friend had a spinach and cheese tamal and I had the sweet tamal. My tamal was actually two tamales wrapped together...they were extremely moist and fresh, better than any sweet tamale I've ever had in the Mission. I was pleased. His spinach/cheese tamal was good but I didn't think it was all that interesting.

Overall, a nice start to a good day of food.

Dave MP

Alemany Farmers' Market
100 Alemany Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94110

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  1. I too ventured to the Alemany market last weekend, and the tamales were great. i had the same sweet one you talked about, but i also had a very delicious and interesting picadillo tamale that was out of this world. i was surprised that all star tamales is out of the east bay, not the mission. they have a great selection at the alemany cart!

    3 Replies
    1. re: jenrcardenas

      Does Srta. Empanada have another outpost? Or just make them for the market on Saturday? (which is not a convenient trip for me) I can't say I've ever had a great empanada in the US, and as a frequent Chile traveler, they are my faves. Also, what was the style of Alfajor?

      1. re: lmnopm

        This is a post about alfajores from last year, that includes a mention of the ones at Alemany. It sounds like there is also a catering company (and maybe a cafe?) associated with the stand.

        Dave MP

        1. re: lmnopm

          I don't know if there are different styles of alfajores, but the alfajores at the Alemany farmer's market are excellent. They are made with 2 rich butter cookies sandwicheing some of the best dulce de leche I've had. I can only compare these to those at La Corneta, the Cuban cafe in Laurel Village and the overly sweet Havana alfajores from Argentina. Her alfajores are the best by far. They are so pretty and delicate too.

          Beware though, I was there at around 10:30 one morning and she only had one cookie left.

      2. How do Chilean empanadas differ from Argentinian? I spent a week in Buenos Aires and ate my way through a ton of empanadas and would love to know if the Chilean ones are similar.

        3 Replies
          1. re: farmersdaughter

            Although there are exceptions, in my experience Chilean empanadas generally:

            a) are larger than Argentine empanadas.
            b) contain more onion than Argentine empanadas, which is usually well-cooked (and soft) and mixed in with ground beef.
            c) contain a piece of hard boiled egg and an olive
            d) often contain raisins

            Argentine empanadas vary depending on where you are in Argentina, but many that I've had are smaller, don't have the egg and olive, and sometimes contain more spice - chili, black pepper or other spices. I've also had ones that use small bits of beef (not-ground) instead of ground beef.

            Despite all these differences, they are pretty similar. If you liked the empanadas you tried in Buenos Aires, I bet you would like the ones at Alemany.

            Dave MP

          2. I'm so glad you reported on Guisell's empanadas. I haven't had them yet, but she makes really good coffee and incredible alfajores and is a totally delightful person to talk to. I'd love to use her catering services someday. She seems like a very talented baker and cook. I think she does the one-cup-at-a-time type of coffee at Alemany as well as offering coffee in thermoses. I noticed that her alfajores are now being sold at Canyon Market in Glen Park. If you buy a box of mini alfajores from her stand at Alemany, they are very reasonable. Didn't notice the Canyon Market price.

            I used to like the sweet corn tamales at All-Star, but last time I had one, I just didn't have a taste for it. In general, I really like their output, though.

            1. Glad you liked it! I love the alfajores lady; her cookies are also sold at L's Caffe on 24th and Florida.

              In general, I'm in produce-shopping mode (specifically, jam-fruit shopping mode) when I'm at Alemany, so it's great to hear about other options I don't investigate. I've tried a couple of tamales and usually revert back to the pork with tomatillo sauce.

              1. Dave, I just ate at a fabulous Chilean restaurant in Manhattan. Are there any (one??) in San Francisco? I loved the penebre sauce. The waiter said they often put it in empanadas. I'd love to make the sauce.

                6 Replies
                1. re: caseycm

                  Do you mean "pebre"? In any case, the only semi-Chileno menu I've been to in these parts is Cafe Valparaiso in Berkeley. I wouldn't call it a "fabulous" restaurant, but it wasn't bad, either. I always come home with several plastic bottles of Ají pebre from Chile, but it is easy to make fresh.

                    1. re: lmnopm

                      I have only been to Cafe Valparaiso once, and it was on Chilean Independence Day last year, right after President Lagos spoke at Berkeley, so it was PACKED and very festive. The empanadas that night were just okay, but this definitely wasn't a regular night, so maybe they are better when they make them in smaller batches.

                      Other than that, I haven't had any Chilean food in restaurants in the Bay Area.

                      Caseycm: Where did you eat in Manhattan? I found an old post from a Chilean meal I had in Queens (unfortunately I didn't try the empanadas). I'm SO glad that the search is working well was so easy to find this link:


                      Meanwhile, I have started a new topic on "The Best" board since I am curious about Chilean/Empanadas in New York. So feel free to reply there about Chilean in New York City.

                      Dave MP

                      1. re: Dave MP

                        I ate at Pomaire, on 46th St. between 8th and 9th.
                        Everything we had was muy bueno.
                        I will post on your new "Best" topic as well.


                        1. re: Dave MP

                          dave, in dec.07 I finally found
                          some good emps in nyc but i don't have the details w/ me. if you're interested, i'll look up the info when i return to boston.