It’s been probably 11 years since we last went to Empanada Mama in Hell’s Kitchen and I did not recognize the place at all. At the time, it was a tiny spot (I believe the photo from their site below is how it was before), really crowded. Now, it is a fairly large restaurant serving more than just empanadas, but with still these delicious turnovers as the stars of the menu, with various options for the dough (wheat or corn), including one called “viagra”, that is not what you are thinking: it is apparently made of seafood (not sure the waiter gave me the right explanation...), and for the healthy conscious, there are some oven baked.
Here is what we ate:
We started of with some guacamole with plantain chips. The guacamole was good and I liked the fact that they serve it with plantain instead of the regular tortilla chips.
Then, we got a mozzarepa that is a sweet corn arepa filled with mozzarella we often eat at street fairs. It was good, deliciously sweet, but I admit that I was really looking forward for some burnt cheese, that is the best part.
We then got our empanadas in little bags with their name on it so we would know which one was which.
The first one was the mushroom empanada, that was oven baked, filled with portobello, white mushroom, garlic, parsley and onions. This was very good, the mushroom being the star of the dish.
The second one was the cheese empanada, the cheese being mozzarella and the shell of wheat flour. That was also a good one, the shell was delicious and having lots of cheese in it.
The third one was the beef empanada, a Colombian style ground beef in a corn shell. The corn shell was interesting, good, but I admit that I prefer the wheat flour one (am I not sure they could accommodate a change of shell. Maybe...). However, the filling was fantastic: juicy, it was very flavorful.
Last was the El Ruben or the Reuben empanada, made with a wheat flour shell, shredded beef, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese, a great take on a classic delicatessen dish. And it was really good!
This was a quite good meal, not pricey and quite filling, to the point that we skipped dessert (well in all honesty we had a plan for the afternoon involving a hot cocoa...). Empanada Mama is a good place for some comfort food and the various combinations they propose will satisfy the vegetarians and the non-vegetarians.
Enjoy (I did)!
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Empanada Mama - 763 9th Avenue, New York, NY 10019