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I have found my long lost Empanada - And the Waltham Mangos are IN!

Did a little old fashioned hounding in Waltham yesterday.

Via Latina on Main street had always caught my eye. Brazilian-owned sub shop though the owners are clearly not recent arrivals as they speak English with NO trace of an accent.

Folks waiting in line raved about the subs.

Being the hound I asked if they had any Salgadino's. They said none were made, but that if I want they usually have them in a hot case by the register and would fry up some fresh ones on the spot.

Cut to the chase: empanada perfection. Largish, 10" or so. Ever so delicate (gotta be some lard) crust. Not a very heavy filling of meat, but somehow as much about the crust as the meat. Perfect. Amazing, oh and I'll try a cheeze one too. Also wonderful. Both washed down with a bottle of Guanabana (soursop) juice.

Now on Moody Walking up hill, about a block before India quality on your left. Fairly anonymous pizza place, but it said they had some south American stuff on the sign.

Empanadas again! This time I had a reheated Spinach with house-made salsa, delicious. And two large meat ones to go that I still have not tried. They are Chilean. The house made pico de gallo (Mexican name I know) was some of the best salsas I have ever had. I'll report back when I eat the meat one.

Finally f*&^%ing amazing mangos are in. You can spend $4 a piece on the superb, piney, resinous, sweet Indian ones which are well worth it and mind blowing.

OR you can by the Dominican Replublic ones, grown "from Indian seeds" at the peak of ripeness, deliciously sweet, wonderful, if not nearly as complex as the Indian ones. These were $1.50 a piece. They also had some excellent ripe Mexican ones, but those could not shine a candle to the two aforementioned varieties.

If you like mangos RUN don't walk, mango season only lasts a few more weeks.

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  1. The Chilean place you tried is called "Tara Pizza". I think their empanadas are amazing! Good chacarero sandwiches, too!

    Might have to make it to Waltham for a empanada/mango run, myself. :)

    6 Replies
    1. re: Prav

      That's the place!

      And on Via Latina it is probably worth asking them to fry the Empanadas fresh.

      1. re: Prav

        Wish they wouldn't reheat the empanadas in the microwave. Salsa saves them though.

        1. re: Prav

          There was a similar pizza place with great Chilean Empanadas and the green bean sandwich across from the Colonel on North Beacon st in Allston that just closed one day and we've been missing it ever since. This was maybe 8 10 years ago. Maybe they moved to Waltham! Gonna get out there soon. Thanks SG

          1. re: Berheenia

            I remember that place, can't say if it was the same folks, probably not as Tara looks like it has been around...

            1. re: StriperGuy

              I believe Striper is right! Tara has been there for ~12 years. I remember going there for empanadas when I first moved to Boston and have been going since.

              Our family favorite at Tara's is the corn empanadas. Have to eat it with skill or a plate and lots of napkins. YUM!!

        2. StriperGuy to widen your South American "salsa" vocabulary. In Chile I believe you might be talking about chanco en piedra, although salsa fresca de tomate would certainly be descriptive enough. In Columbia, "hogao" and Brazil "vinagrete." Venezuela I am not certain.

          At Via Latina sounds like you had a "pastel" although a lot of places use Empanada skins to make a pastel. I wouldn't expect lard, although vegetable shortening could be used (oil more common) and cachaca is sometimes added. Brazilian pastel dough is lighter than fried empanada skins.

          9 Replies
          1. re: itaunas

            Chanco en piedra it is.

            The crust on that pastel was so thin, delicate, and crumbly. Could not have been improved upon.

            1. re: itaunas

              can you purchase those empanada skins Itaunas? There was a pizza place in JP that used to make empenadas to order, they were right next to the Jeannie Jonston pub, used to drink there and get an empenada......so good. I like the beef with potato kind.

              1. re: devilham

                If you head to Moody Street in Waltham, La Chapincita does sell packaged empanada skins. Two kinds: one for baking and one for frying.

                1. re: devilham

                  devilham I don't know anyone that specifically sells the dough, but I know two places that fill them to order -- Pastelaria Vitoria Broadway in Somerville and Cake and CIA in Everett. The former if you order a combination they will definitely make it to order and they take a piece of dough, then run it through a Dough sheeter and then fill it. These two make the square "pastel√£o da feira" fried empanada-style pastries, if what StriperGuy ate was half moon my guess would be Via Latina might be buying the skins. I would think that the Pastelaria and Cake and CIA would sell you the dough if talk to a manager at the former or the owners at the latter.

                  1. re: itaunas

                    itaunas, by 'filling to order', do you mean you can take filling to them and they will assemble for you?

                    a waitress at Tango told me they buy their wrappers and use 2 diff ones. only once has my every-few-months takeout order had the way better wrappers, but it wasn't until a week later that i ate one so i couldn't ask/i.d. the wrapper. Whatever the brand, i wish they would use them all the time.

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      I mean they assemble pasteis with some combinations of ingredients they have on hand to order. Lets say you order "ground beef and hearts of palm," or "romeu e julieta" (cheese and guava paste), they will stretch the dough, fill it and fry to order. If you order a cheese pastel, they'll likely hand you what is in the warming oven display case. Brazilian meat fillings are not as complex as in many other countries (ground beef, salt, annato, garlic, sometimes stock, etc) no cumin, no raisins.

                2. re: itaunas

                  I think it's "chancho en piedra" and not "chanco" - but I would probably call a Chilean version of pico de gallo "pebre," which is the term I heard a lot more often when I was there.

                  For any Spanish readers, here's a link to a Chilean forum where the difference between 'chancho en piedra' and 'pebre' are discussed....in short, not much difference!


                  And great to hear that there are good Chilean empanadas in Boston!

                  1. re: Dave MP

                    Dave MP I said chancho because of the tomato base, even though it would more likely be blended. Terminology wise "pebre" is probably a better _translation_ of pico de gallo, but I was betting that StriperGuy had more of a tomato base. In any case if the chileans can't entirely agree there is some room for discussion. :-)

                    I definitely plan to check out Tara and its another on my list of "house of pizza" type places now serving ethnic food (something I mentioned a few times in the past and MC Slim JB was curious about). Its particularly good to hear that Via Latina is serving some good food now, because under previous ownership the space went to waste particularly for chow (good for money transfers and full of expired food stuffs) -- I occasionally bought salt and charcoal there but not much else.

                    1. re: itaunas

                      The 'secret menus' at House of Pizzas would be a great piece to write up, itaunas. I know there are several out there and look forward to hearing about your finds.

                3. Mangos were bot at Waltham India.

                  1. Thanks for the report, Striper. I keep forgetting to try the chacarero at Tara, too. I've enjoyed the empanadas in the past. Pizza is okay, fairly thin crust but not tons of flavor. Nice people.

                    Also, head on up Moody to La Chapincita for great prices on chiles, etc., and Cinco de Mayo tortillas. I just bought a bunch earlier in the week. On the other side of Moody was a sign for "Casa Latina", coming soon. A peak in showed some Indian products as well as chiles and other Central American groceries.

                    1. stripes, might you further describe the emps plse? you know i have a thing for them, and after so many boring ones, have settled on the Tango beef emps in arlington (have you tried them yet?)
                      The ones you tried- ground or chopped meat? spices or plain?(most in so. amer. are very mild/not spicy, like the Tango Argentinian ones.) Other ingredients- potato, sweet red pepper, peas, tomato? fried or baked? thx much!

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                        The Tara ones (baked) were also amazing with ground meat, egg and raisin.

                        The Via Latina one just plain ground meat.

                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            Tara has both baked and (much smaller) fried empanadas. I quite like the fried corn empanada.

                            The baked empanada is listed on Tara's menu under "Dinners." Does it come with anything?

                            I prefer their grilled beef churrascos and lomitos to their chacerero. They are all enormous, although the meat in the lomitos and chacarero can be a tad dry and is sliced a bit too thick.

                              1. re: azra

                                I just looked at the menu for Tara and see that they have Pastel de Choclo....anyone tried this yet? Haven't ever seen this at a restaurant in Massachusetts before, so it'd be exciting if it was good! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastel_d...

                                1. re: Dave MP

                                  Thanks for reading that far down the menu, it is exciting as I am also a fan of pastel de choclo and also haven't found it elsewhere (La Mama's, etc).

                                  1. re: itaunas

                                    If I still lived in Boston, I'd be trying it right away! I hope you can report back on it soon.

                                    Another question I had about Tara was whether the filling in the fried and baked versions of the meat empanada are the same, or if they are different.

                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                      They appear to be totally different beasts, by can't say for sure...

                                      1. re: Dave MP

                                        When I had three (of my original dozen take-out)for lunch today,i realized that
                                        I had 2 fried and one baked, and then i saw the others were a mix of fried and baked. (When I ordered my dozen, I didn't know there were baked and fried options; i simply asked for a dozen beef emps.) My baked and fried emps had the same filling. I much preferred the texture of the fried pastry; the baked dough was tough and not cooked through.(The owner told me he makes the dough from flour and veg oil, not butter or lard or shortening. que lastima.)We also tried the spinach and 'beschamel' emps but found them dull. BTW, can someone describe the corn emps> corn pastry or corn filling? thx.

                            1. Are these amazing mangos at Patel Brothers? Or at the Via Latina place you describe? I've been craving mangos ever since returning from Asia, where they are oh so plentiful and tasty.

                              1 Reply
                              1. Call before you head there to buy some mangoes. I stopped by today and they were sold out. More should be in later this week.

                                1 Reply
                                1. Followed in your CH steps yesterday. Really liked the fried beef emps at Tara. Great that they include raisins and olive and egg, and a little comino.The tasty side sauce really adds zest and quality flavor to them. The spinach and 'beschamel' ones didn't really do it for us. Odd, when I asked him about his emps he never showed me any corn (filling or pastry?) or baked ones.But such a nice guy; we talked about neruda and mistral. His pastry is made by him- flour and oil. Imo,not as good as Tango's (bought-in) wrappers though the 2 fillings are comparable and Tango's has no side sauce (I eat them w/ my own chipotle sauce.) We didn't go to Via Latina because plain beef filling doesn't draw me. At Waltham India Market we got Indian, Haitian and Dominican mangos, to be tried. And a whole tandoor chicken (spicy hot) from the downstairs food court. (Did I read a past thread correctly- that there is a good fried chicken in that food court?) So Stripes, thx for the tip; i am a real empanada devotee. Hope you'll try the Tango beef ones soon (so close to you!)

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                    I tried the empanadas at Tara, also a chacarero. Before that I tried a couple of empanadas at Via Latina. I wasn't very impressed with any of them, but maybe it's not my area of expertise. I think I would of been better off with a lomito than a chacarero. The chacarero at Chacarero or Chacarero 2000 in Downtown Crossing smokes this one. Unfortunately, the inclusion of mayo just didn't sit well with me. I downed it, but didn't like it. Anyway, I'm totally full after all that. I wanted to do a pizza nearby, but forget it.

                                    I got a case of Alphonso Indian Mangoes at Patel Bros. It is a very interesting thing, I cannot wait to try. The box is serious packaging and still has stickers from JFK airport. There are 9 mangoes inside and the box is $35. I better be in mango heaven! They had six boxes left and I took one. India Market told me check back thursday.

                                    1. re: tatsu

                                      Actually they are Kesar, which are similar but not the same. I think I want to try both though. Maybe I will check India Market on Thursday.

                                      1. re: tatsu

                                        tatsu: the kesar mangoes are better than alphonsos IMHO.
                                        I bought a bad box at south shore india market in braintree last month...a few of them actually rotted away so I only had a few that were good :-P
                                        but they were good :-)

                                        1. re: Spike

                                          There is a warning on the side of the box that says Alphonso is prone to "spongy tissue".

                                          The Kesar mangoes I had so far are well, wow. Very juicy, very sweet, orange flesh, initially the taste is mango, but then the midpoint of tasting, this transporting floral perfume like sense takes over and it finishes slightly less tart than normal with almost resinous note. And it's so sweet, you'd think you were sucking on artificially flavored candy from Japan if you weren't paying attention. I'm literally licking my fingers and scraping the seed and skin like a chipmunk with my teeth every time.

                                          Thanks to Striper for this tip. The emps were a bit of a letdown, but this makes up for it and then some.

                                          1. re: tatsu

                                            Spike: What company brand was it? The Kesar I bought are branded "Kay Bee". The box has a label where "Aphonso" "Kesar" and "BadamI" are listed in a chart, and one is checked off by hand. It also has a origin label that states "Krushak, Lasalgaon, India." When you google that, the first thing that comes up is a irradiation and Board of Radiation and Isotope Technology, which frankly, is scary. The mangoes have to be irradiated by US law.

                                            Here's a picture of the facility. http://www.britatom.gov.in/htmldocs/k...
                                            Not exactly what I was hoping for, which was lovely groves of mangoes being tended to by peaceful villagers, ha ha.

                                            1. re: tatsu

                                              tatsu, do you recall if they also had chaunsas there ?

                                              1. re: Nab

                                                Wow Nab, you really know mangoes! I inquired, but no, they did not have them. Where did you last see them?

                                                1. re: tatsu

                                                  I'm just another fan of the fruit, tatsu ! I like alphonsos as much as the next guy, but there are several others in the family worth seeking out, and chaunsas happen to be just another of my faves. Usually see em with all the others at a good Indo-Pak grocer. Last weekend (in Toronto) I found them a bit more enjoyable than the alphonsos. I usually bite off the top, and then squeeze all the pulp into my maw - gone in 30 seconds.

                                              2. re: tatsu

                                                This was a month ago so I don't remember the label on the box that has long been recycled :-P
                                                The color of the ones that were moldy was bizarre though...not orange at all..more like a pale yellow/gray. I've had them in the past but this was the first time I've seen this.

                                                The kesar's do have this nice fragrance that lingers after you eat them...that's why I like them too. Just wish they weren't so damned expensive and small :-)

                                    2. Checked out the empanadas at Via Latina and they weren't good enough to make me want to go back. Nice little deli and store with Brazilian groceries. The sandwich menu was standard fare - I didn't see any unusual sandwiches on the menu so I got two empanadas. One beef and one chicken. As reported, it was good size and the dough was crispy. The filling was just some flavorless ground beef - the dominant taste was salt. The chicken was a round ball of fried cornmeal - 90% cornmeal and flavorless chicken. It was fun exploring the store and trying the empanadas, but I wouldn't go back just to get that.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: dlee388

                                        The only sandwich I thought was unusual for the area was the one that advertises being a muffaletta - the North Ender I think they call it. Unfortunately, the olive spread was finely chopped and only thinly spread on the sandwich. Still need to try the cubano.

                                      2. Just to report a bit more: just ate one of the Mexcan ones that I let ripen on the counter for a week and it was spectacular. Not quite the same league as the Indian ones, but darned good...

                                        They weren't that good when I bought them, but the extra hot week just pushed them over the edge.