Today is National Empanada Day. Why? I don’t know, but empanadas are delicious. So if we want to celebrate our delicious, mouthwatering pockets of [insert filling of your choice here] by eating a gluttonous amount then let’s do it. Here are three places to have great empanadas in Chicago.
You don’t mention empanadas in Chicago without talking about 5411. This Argentinian spot offers 12 different empanadas from traditional beef empanadas to a banana and nutella empanada. These people are obviously empanada geniuses. However, don’t skip out on the empanada that combines the two best things about Argentina: beef and Malbec wine. Their Malbec beef empanada is a slow-braised beef and sauteed carrots and onions in a malbec wine reduction. Oh, and all their empanadas are only $2.50. Good luck stopping yourself from having all 12.
2850 N. Clark St. and 2045 W. North Ave.
Full disclosure: I’m Cuban. Cubans aren’t really known for empanadas. That doesn’t mean we don’t make good ones, but their far down the last when you think of Cuban food staples. However, 90 Miles Cuban Cafe seems to be trying to bring it up the ranks because they are making some flaky, hot, and juicy empanadas. Their chorizo and goat cheese is good and more original, but the ropa vieja one reminds me more of home. For those who don’t know ropa vieja is not literally old clothes it just gets the name because of its look. It is actually shredded beef cooked in a tomato sauce, and it’s the best.
90 Miles Cuban Cafe
3101 N. Clybourn Ave. and 2540 W. Armitage Ave.
Behind arepas, empanadas are a big Colombian food staple. It is so ingrained in Colombian culture that Carlos Escalante, the owner of Lito’s Empanadas, didn’t even study to be a cook or a chef instead he studied business administration, was managing an auto parts factory for a while, and casually made empanadas on the side. They were so good that he eventually opened the now succesful Lito’s. They offer 10 different varieties from the traditional like chicken empanada to the more adventurous Hawaiian empanada with ham, mozzarella and pineapple.
2566 N. Clark St. and 1437 W. Taylor St.