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Scouting the best empanadas in Westchester Co.

I'm in the mood for a challenge and it's been a while since my last real down and dirty chowhounding food challenge (that "state of the taco in white plains" expedition I made late last year).

So I'm thinking it's time to evaluate all the empanadas that one can find in Westchester County to find the best. I'm not going to be able to do it all in a matter of three days like I did the taco one, but over the course of the next month, I'd like to try every place that sells empanadas to see if I can scout out the best.

My starting points are the places that I've already tried over the past five years. I can't remember all of them, but off hand, I'm thinking about:

* Panaderia Uruguaya in Port Chester
* Inca y Gaucho in Port Chester
* La Puebla Nuevo in White Plains
* Little Paraguay Deli in White Plains
* Los Andes Bakery in Tarrytown
* Chapines Deli in Mt. Kisco

Any others I should be thinking about? All thoughts and ideas are greatly welcomed.

Should I keep this limited to central/south american empanadas or open up to carribbean ones too? They really are a different variety, but puerto rican/domincan/cuban empanadas are great... but then where do I stop? Do I then try jamaican patties too? Alas, the choices are limitless.

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  1. Adamcylyde: Be multicutural, Caribbean, Asian, and of course your specialty ALL Spanish because you already have the great taste buds. Have fun and can't wait to hear about it. Also try the Hot Chocolate since it is gett ing cold and I bet you will find some authentic hot cocoa too. Thanks

    1. You MUST try the empanadas at the Colombian bakery and cafe in Ossining, Quimbaya. Though at first I was surprised to see so many people eating one or two for breakfast, I guess that's pretty common, and it's now my weekly Saturday breakfast too-- along with their cinnamony hot chocolate. I love everything there, from the pressed sandwiches to the arepas to the flan and their tamales (new offering!). Make sure you add it to your list! Good luck!

      ETA: Oh and the CHEESE BREAD! If you catch these little morsels when they're hot out of the oven.......... yummmmm!

      11 Replies
      1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

        Where in Ossining is this place, I feel like I've seen it, but now I can't place it. Bridget C

        1. re: BridgetC

          It's on the north side of Main Street, just west of Route 9.

        2. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

          Is it close to that Portuguese place, Doca's or the Army/Navy store on Main St?

          1. re: Sra. Swanky

            It's pretty much at the top of the hill, right across from the clock at the old bank on the corner, a few doors down from what used to be Guida's and is now Mauro's.........

          2. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

            great tip. I was nearby today checking out los andes bakery. I'll have to find a way back in that neck to try out this place. It will be interesting to test out Quimbaya's v. Asi es Colombia in Port Chester. A colombian throw down...

            1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

              Had a quick lunch today at Quimbaya---two of us shared an empanada with good fresh hot sauce and a great arepa with cheese, fabulous hot chocolate and coffee with steamed milk.

              1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                Interesting review linked from the Lohud blog--seems Doug is a little confused though--he owes i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream an empanada!
                http://hungrytravels.com/2008/11/06/q...

                1. re: Marge

                  hah! well, I'll buy you an empanada instead. how's that?

                  1. re: adamclyde

                    Thanks, Adam--my post was deleted for reasons known only by whomever deleted it (?!?!?!?), but an arepa and hot chocolate for me, please! BTW, have you been to Quimbaya yet?
                    ETA--that post miraculously re-appeared...

                  2. re: Marge

                    lol!! I noticed that too. I don't care who Doug treats to an empanada, as long as he's getting the word out about Quimbaya! :)

                2. There's a new empanada shop set to open on Pleasantville Rd. in Briarcliff Manor. Looks like it will be called "Med." They've been doing renovations and from what I can see it looks almost complete, but there's no opening date posted.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: chick in the kitchen

                    Man, a dedicated empanada place? That's worth checking out. If only I had a good reason to get way the heck up to briarcliff manor...

                    1. re: adamclyde

                      If you're going to Ossining for Quimbaya, Briarcliff is the next village over! I grew up there and I'm disappointed that only just now they are opening up to more ethnic cuisine (instead of only having Italian and Chinese restaurants). Once Med opens the next time I am home visiting, I will certainly stop in.

                      1. re: Solstice444

                        very good to know. In fact, I may actually be in the neighborhood today! I assume this is the address:

                        When is "med" opening?

                        1. re: adamclyde

                          Med is in the new edition of the N. Westchester clipper-- with some details and coupons. Seems from the ad that they are currently open for business. Honestly, some of the fillings make them sound more like calzones or pizza rolls than empanadas (buffalo chicken... philly cheesesteak?)... but I'd be curious to see what the deal is with them. They also have sweet empanadas. $3-4 each.

                          1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                            I saw that ad too--the fillings listed made me think not even of calzones but "hot pockets" !?!?! Please report back if you check it out, thanks!

                            1. re: Marge

                              YES!!! Hot pockets, that's what they sound like. Pepperoni and cheese... chicken parm... I think I'll wait for someone else to try this one.

                          2. re: adamclyde

                            I should be in Briarcliff tomorrow or Wednesday so I'm hoping to check it out. I saw some review posted on a site by someone with poor spelling and grammar, but it basically said "This place is incredible and has 30 kinds of empanadas, from ham and cheese to spinach and goat cheese." You're all right, doesn't sound like true empanadas, probably more of an empanada crust stuffed with all sorts of things to please the masses. But that could be good!

                            1. re: adamclyde

                              I stopped by today -- the paper is down off the windows so you can see inside, and there were two people there cleaning windows, etc. My Spanish isn't very good, but it seems they are opening this Friday.

                              It will just be a take-out joint (barely room for a single table, I'd guess), there are two beverage fridges installed where you order, then a counter across the store. Behind the counter there were several fryers ready to go.

                              They didn't have any menus printed yet.

                              1. re: chick in the kitchen

                                I finally stopped by today and was really happy I did. It's tiny so we got our empanadas to go--not something I'd usually do with deep-fried food. But even 10 minutes later everything was still crisp and hot. We tried 6 different choices and everything was surprisingly good. The shrimp special w/ fresh cilantro was the best, we thought, and we also really liked the "greek" (feta, tomato, olive). Some choices are more authentic than others!

                                I'm not much of a fried food fan so next time I'm going to order the empanadas baked, which they do recommend, so we'll see.

                                Another nice thing: in this day and age, it's great to see a small, family-run place really making a go of it. There was steady traffic and they said business is good.

                      2. I can't wait for the results. I love empanadas and your reviews are always very valuable. I'd suggest you do all Latin but include the Spanish speaking Caribbean - Puerto Rico, Cuba as those versions are related to Central and South America.

                        However, I wouldn't go to a any version of a filling inside dough of some form. Almost every culture has one (samosa, knish, pierogi and so on...) and although delicious you need to have some limits. Doing Latin alone is already multi-cultural. If you want to add Spanish empanadas that makes sense but Asian, not so much.

                        FYI - Misti has empanadas too. I will not comment on quality but let you make your own call. What about Asi es Colombia and would you go higher end to Tango Grill in WP for their Argentinean version?

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: laylag

                          Laylag: But I disagree while on the trail of the search for something with a doughbased item, it includes all cultures and maybe too much of one thing is too much always. Have a little fiun and enjoy it all. After all this a melting pot of everyone not just Latin. But the Hot Chocolate is imperative to also check out PLEASE by all. Have a great weekend.

                          1. re: nbermas

                            Nbermas, I respect your disagreement but to my knowledge there isn't an empanada that is indigenous to Asia so am confused by your suggestion to include it in Adam's empanada taste testing adventure. Empanadas are a predominantly Latin American food with, according to Wikiipedia, roots in Arabic cuisine brought to Spain and then subsequently to Latin America and the Caribbean. Link here...

                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empanada

                            As for Hot Chocolate I know you're looking for the best in all cuisines but there does happen to be a very good a Mexican version - champurrado - that should be available at Palateria Hernandez soon if not already.

                            Have fun.

                            1. re: laylag

                              Yum! Champurrado! I was hoping there was a place where I could get my fix! My pregnancy cravings are in full bloom these days! I'll be sure to check out Palateria Hernandez. I love their ice cream - glad to see they have something for the cooler months! Thanks, laylag!

                              1. re: Sra. Swanky

                                yeah, paleteria fernandez (with an "f" not an "h" :) ) has great champurrado.

                                To clear up... I'd thought about doing a big "stuffed" excursion... so opening to all lovely stuffed type of things from empanadas to dumplings to meat pies. But I have to draw the lines somewhere... so latin will be the focus.

                                1. re: adamclyde

                                  Have fun and we trust your taste buds!

                                  1. re: adamclyde

                                    where is paleteria fernandez? thanks!

                                    1. re: applesauce23

                                      here you go:

                                      -----
                                      Paleteria Fernandez
                                      33 N Main St, Port Chester, NY 10573

                                    2. re: adamclyde

                                      Oh my - I wrote Hernandez??? Kind of a dyslexic typo. Thanks for correcting Adam. btw - I've often thought of opening a place that sells all manner of stuffed things from all cuisines.

                              2. re: laylag

                                Does Tango have empanadas? I'd be really intrigued if so. I had the best empanadas of my life in Buenos Aires a few months ago... and it was from a rather high-end place so I'm maybe Tango would be similar?

                                I'd love to find a good argentine source. Inca y Gaucho has empanadas, though I'm not sure how good they are. But they would be of the argentine/uruguayan variety too...

                                1. re: adamclyde

                                  Can't speak to Tango Grill's empanadas -- haven't been since much earlier in its life and can't remember anything about empanadas. Inca y Gaucho's are authentic Argentine types, and they offer three versions. Since their other vegetable offerings are pretty limited, we very often start our meal there with the spinach variety, which also includes some cheese. They appear to keep them frozen, so occasionally they arrive at the table with the filling not as warmed up as it should be. If your experience with empanadas in BsAs was only in high end restaurants, I'm assuming, perhaps quite wrongly, you may only have had the regular beef version, which are commonly included there, but the restaurants and take out places that specialize have quite a few different varieties of fillings. If your research turns up some of those around here, please let us know.

                                  In another direction, hubby and I had lunch a couple of months ago at the little Brazilian place on the side street (around the corner from Misti?) and they have a couple of items they term empanadas. Since I was not particularly hungry, I made my meal from a couple of them. One problem at the time was that they had been sitting around for a while and seemed to suffer from that, but you might give them a try.

                                  1. re: Westjanie

                                    hi Westjanie. I sort of went on an empanada binge when I was in Buenos Aires and got them everywhere, from high end places to street vendors to everything in between.

                                    But the most memorable were from a fairly nice restaurant where we sampled about 10 different kinds, from lamb to cheese to beef to spinach, etc. Man it was awesome. I'm not real hopeful that I'll find a lot of variety, but I'd be really happy for the standard ones done well. Inca y Gaucho is next on my list - thanks for the heads up on their varieties!

                                    Oh, and which brazilian place was it? Little Brazil Cafe or International Cafe (little brazil cafe is on the same side as paleteria fernandez, just a few doors down; international cafe is on the same side as Misti, just around the corner.

                                    1. re: adamclyde

                                      It was around the corner.

                                      Glad to hear you had a full empanada experience in BsAs. I've been fortunate to visit there many times -- always have empanadas, of course, but one trip turned out to involve really a lot of them in many locations. It was a lot of fun, but don't think I could do that too often.

                                  2. re: adamclyde

                                    Just checked the online menu Adam and Tango grill does indeed have empanadas - beef only it seems but worth checking out I'd imagine.

                                    1. re: laylag

                                      We called Saturday-no answer-so I imagine Med is not open yet. I am excited for something different in Briarcliff although some of the empanadas do sound strage-and I do wonder how long they will stay in business-not sure what kind of market there is for this kind of food in Briarcliff!

                                  1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                                    slowly, but it's going. When I've got a critical mass, I'll post back... in the meantime, I'm eating rather well... :)

                                    1. re: adamclyde

                                      Inspired by this post, head over to ossining this morning to re-visit quimbaya. I wonder if they have a new baker as the empanadas have a thicker crust than I remember. Still, they were delicious and i had to control myself to settle for just two. The fresh salsa used to be chock full of freshly cut vegetables, now its a thin sauce...still good, but no longer great. The hot chocolate was great and they were making some great looking, complex panini.

                                  2. Would love to hear the feedback on these places. Is Little Paraguay Deli on the Harrison/WP border (in Silver lake, I guess?)? I have had empanadas from Little Paraguay (I think) and really liked them although it was years ago. Also are the empanadas from Quimbaya the typical Colombian style of fried cornmeal (vs. baked or fried dough)? I'm Colombian but prefer the Argentinian style much more.

                                    I have tried the empanadas from Med a few times since they opened about a week ago. It's owned by an Uruguayan guy who had a chain of empanada shops in Latin America (I assume in Uruguay but can't recall what he said). It definitely has that feel of a branded sort of restaurant, which I don't mean in a negative way, only to distinguish it from a hole in the wall type of establishment.

                                    They do have a huge variety of empanadas, both savory and sweet with a few specialties as well. We tried the traditional style (can't recall the name of it - ground beef, olives and some bits of hard boiled egg) which I really liked. We also had the Hawaiian (ham and pineapple). My husband loved it but I'm not a huge fan of that combination. We also had a dulce de leche, which is more like a fried square dough pocket with a dulce de leche filing. That was good too but my Paraguayan nanny said that it just wasn't right to call that an empanada.

                                    All in all, I'm thrilled to have it around and am inspired to try the places adam mentioned.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: TGO

                                      yeah, that's the place. It's been a few years since I've been the that deli too. I need to get back over there soon...

                                      I haven't been to quimbaya yet. I'll keep you posted?