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are these the best empanadas in brooklyn?

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Last year, I was lucky enough to live in Buenos Aires, and ate great quantities of empanadas while there. But since I've been back in New York, I haven't been able to find empanadas like the ones -- baked until the dough is golden and russet; dough that is thin, supple, buttery; spiced but not spicy; great empanadas are sort of the perfect combo of delicate and robust, and you can eat them with your hands.

I've had the empanadas at reuben's in manhattan (thumbs down -- bland gummy fillings, too-thick dough); at a place on steinway street (papa's empanadas?) in astoria (though tasty, they were not the empanadas of my dreams -- a little too greasy); and at the corner store on s4 and bedford here in williamsburg (again, tasty, but fried, not baked).

Labor day, I stopped in with my boyfriend at Tipico, which is a paraguayan cafe on s1 between driggs and roebling. The waitress told us that the empanadas were fresh out of the oven, so we ordered two. As soon as I saw them, my heart leapt with joy! They looked so perfect -- the right size (not too big), browned on the top, and with a golden braid of dough. They were beef empanadas, with egg and a few sparse golden sultanas mixed into the filling. The spicing was excellent -- complex and savory. And the dough was as good as it looked.

When we were leaving, we discovered the secret: the owner's mom was doing the cooking. Though she's paraguayan (I suppose), the empanadas tasted just like the best ones I had in Buenos Aires -- not a surprise, I guess, since paraguay is contiguous or just north of the provinces in Argentina that originated empanadas (Tucuman, Salta).

My only wish is that they had more than just one kind, but I guess making these in small batches is what makes them taste so good.

I think these could quite possibly be the best empanadas in Brooklyn.

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  1. This is probably one of the most important Chowhound posts in a long time. I congratulate nadia on bringing this one to our attention. This has all the elements of a true Chowhound "find":
    authenticity, love of cooking, and a decidedly non-commercial element. And nadia's report, including her own experience with Argentine empanadas and her search for authentic empanadas, add an element of the thrill of the hunt to the story. Her description of the product and the producers is colorful and insightful. I'm not likely to visit Tipico soon, but I am sure many hounds will. And, I am sure, we'll hear alot more about the joint. I predict we'll be hearing nothing but good things. Lucali's, Sri, DiFara, Tanoreen...there's a new kid on the block. Thanks, nadia!

    2 Replies
    1. re: famdoc

      wow! thanks, famdoc! i have chowhound to thank for dozens of amazing food experiences (especially in queens), but i've never had the temerity to post anything before. it feels good to give back!

      however, to moderate (somewhat) the enthusiasm of my post, i should mention that we also had the palmitos (hearts of palm) salad, which was fine, but unremarkable. But the empanadas...wow. She said she was making humita empanadas on friday, which I will most certainly be there to try, with my fingers crossed that the second experience is as awesome as the first.

      1. re: nadia

        The reason I said I would not be visiting Tipico any time soon is because my wife and I do not eat meat. However, we eat seafood and all manner of vegetables. If you find they make a seafood or veggie empanada, let us know.

        As for my praise of your post, it was well-deserved. This is really what Chowhound is all about: an opportunity for enthusiastic eaters to share their experiences with others.
        In particular, when that experience is an unheralded or out-of-the-way place, with an interesting pedigree, it is even more valuable. Add to that your personal insight into Argentine food and you've got a stellar piece of Chowhounding.

    2. Thanks for the tip. Back in California we used to buy empanadas from a bolivian woman who filled hers with ground beef, egg whites, sultanas and chopped green olives. This sounds pretty close and I can't wait to give them a try.

      1. I totally agree with the other Posters. I had basically given up on finding decent empanada's and had just decided to wait for the ones made by a good friend . It will be interesting to see if other Chow Hounds have the ssma positive experience. Thanks!.

          1. My boyfriend and I went to Tipico last night on Nadia's recommendations. We were just in Buenos Aires, and had unbelivably divine empanadas at a place there called Kumana. So, I was pretty excited to try them at Tipico. My boyfriend got the beef and plum, and pronounced them just OK. I had the cheese and corn, and while I thought the pastry was light and flaky, the filling was kind of boring. I wanted to like them, I really did (sometimes I think I have Seinfeld syndrome, where I am overeager to promote small, ethnic eateries), but I didn't find them remarkable enough to merit a second visit. bummer!!

            1. This is sort of like the search for the holy grail. I even like a good fried empanadas (as long as the grease isn't from BC) but gettign a good baked one, oh man. Some of the Argie/Uruguayan joints in JH serve the baked style but then either nuke 'em or throw them on the parrillda for a couple of minutes. I wish there was more options to get a good baked empanada. The Chilean place on Woodhaven is long gone and they seem to get the short end of the stick at most places.

              1 Reply
              1. re: MOREKASHA

                There's a Chilean bakery/cafe in Astoria, San Antonio Bakery #2 that makes baked empanadas. I've only eaten one once because they often run out. They're beefy with a few raisins, olives (and I think hard boiled egg) and are quite substantial.

                more on the bakery:

              2. I'm not an expert in empanadas, but I'm also not easily impressed and as it happens, last weekend I had a delicious beef empanada at the ball fields in Red Hook. Pretty much at the end of the line of vendors (just past some slightly pricey (for the venue) tasty, tomatoey, shrimp ceviche). This empanada was about the size of a my (woman's) fist, really nice, tasty, flakey dough, spiced cubes of tender meat, egg, maybe onion, maybe raisins -- can't remember. Seriously good. The vendors just got a pass into October, so there is still time to get one if you are in red hook instead of williamsburg.

                1. There is a woman who makes empanadas & other dishes in front of her house on Sackett btw Smith & Hoyt on Sat. afternoons. Her set up is akin to what the vendors at the ballfields have rigged up - an outdoor stove under a small canopy. She usually has a variety of fillings - yesterday we had chicken & chorizo. Sometimes the dough can be too greasy, but the fillings are always excellent. She always has plantains, which are hit-or-miss, and other specials. Sometimes a seafood paella, yesterday avocado stuffed with shrimp. We didn't try that, but we saw someone else order it & it looked great.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: seb

                    So glad you posted this. I saw the sign on Saturday when I was walking down Smith. If I hadn't just eaten, I would have tried her tamales. I went back today (Sunday) and it wasn't there. So now I know what the deal is...

                    1. re: Carol Gardens

                      we live up the street from the empanada woman on sackett. her empanadas are good but greasy. Also, they are fried, which means they won't satisfy any of the people looking for argentine/chilean empanadas on this thread, as those are baked.

                      but for a dollar, her empanadas make a tasty snack.

                    2. re: seb

                      Say, what time is she most likely to be there? I checked out this block yesterday around 3:15 and again an hour later - no luck.

                      1. re: squid kun

                        we usually go earlier. prob. around noon and she must be there much before then because everything is cooked and ready to go.

                        1. re: squid kun

                          i think she's usually sold out, closed up shop, and gone by 3. try earlier, like noon.

                          1. re: missmasala

                            I will next time, thanks! Nice leafy block, in any case.

                      2. I'm sorry to hear that chompchomp had a not-so-sublime experience! (By the way, about the empanadas in Buenos Aires, did you mean Cumana, in Recoleta?)

                        I did go back on Friday to have the corn empanadas. I'm not sure they're the same as the ones chompchomp had the day before -- they were corn and yucca (no cheese), very buttery and quite rich. I got them straight out of the oven again (I had to wait about a half hour for them to be ready) -- brought a bunch home for lunch, and both my boyfriend and I thought they were awesome. They absolutely lived up to our high expectations from earlier in the week.

                        I guess the difference that I find between the empanadas at tipico and the other places I've tried is that you can really taste that they're homemade here -- which is perhaps a source of inconsistency. But -- to my tastebuds at least -- they have that special something rare.

                        I can't wait to try the empanadas at red hook and compare! (though i'm sure i'll find it really difficult not getting a huarache...)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: nadia

                          Nadia -- I believe that's the place --- just off Avenida Sante Fe? So deliciously divine. They were hot and flaky and buttery. The ones we had a Tipico had been microwaved and seemed a bit lifeless. I was wishing and hoping, though.