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Restaurants

Jumbo Empanadas

Posted by Frank / Reviewed on January 31, 2008 / review policy

Jumbo Empanadas
So empanadas eh? I can eat a couple. Especially if they're from Jumbo Empanadas in Kensington market.

Unlike the picture above, this particular frigid afternoon it's hard to tell whether the steam on the windows is from the steady stream of hungry mensches waiting to be served or the steady turnover (heh, see what I just did there) of warm pockets arriving fresh from the oven. One thing's for sure: the winter's absence of patio space makes it impossible to get a table in this humble eatery. Good thing this is street food, jackson. And despite how packed it gets with a loose queue threatening to riot at any moment, they never manage to test the patience of the staff who always serves with a wry, flirty smile. And could there be a better way to keep your hands warm on a cold January day? Okay, don't answer that...

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I'm a sucker for proletariat cuisine and while I suspect there were more than a few empanadas enjoyed by jackbooted pro-Pinochet goons, (no doubt gleefully munching away in the backs of flat-beds while dragging their victims behind) Jumbo's heart warming success story is as delicious as the food--although the name's a bit misleading and the creepy mascot's definitely gotta go.

So let's shelve Irene Morales' empanadas for a minute. Sure the cheese variety ($1.99 each) is a gooey deep fried pocket of creamy, runny goodness elevated to a state of perfection with a liberal dab of house made pico di gallo aji; sure the beef's a personal fave ($3.99 each): light and crispy, stuffed with more variety, more smoky raisin-and-olive beefy tomato-ey goodness and more pure, head exploding flavour craziness than an entire week's worth of American Idol auditions. Deelish. Nothing like a surprise hardboiled egg hidden inside. But c'mon, are you living under a rock? Who doesn't know about how amazing these things are? And if empanadas are where things ended, Toronto'd be better for it. But all the food at Jumbo is a deliriously joyous spiced Chilean tongue-twister of sweet and savoury that'll work your taste buds into a froth.

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Humitas ($3.99 each), Chilean tamales stuffed with a wicked combo of sweet, creamed corn and a hit of licoricey basil and onion that'll have you scraping the husk with a spoon to salvage every last bite.

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Bring your friends cos the $8 corn pie (noticing a theme?) is a layered affair: thick creamed corn topping hiding a dark moorish conspiracy of egg, beef, olives raisins and tender threads of chicken thigh with tastes and textures that'll remind you of a Moroccan pastilla minus the pastry (and the pigeon, natch).

Yes folks, there's more to Jumbo than empanadas and this shop's an excellent intro to the joys of Latin American cuisine.

Good street food in Kensington? Who would've thought?

Discussion

28 Comments

Alisa / January 10, 2008 at 10:38 pm
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I love this place. Inexpensive and filling, Unpretentious tasty empanadas simply prepared and well seasoned. One of my favourite spots becuase they aren't trying to be cool, they just are. The staff aree always pleasant too. Thanx Jumbo Empanadas, please stick around forever!!
VivyRuest / February 1, 2008 at 11:40 am
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Try their salad, tasty & light, perfect! In the summer, on their patio, with a bottle of Corona on the side, delicious!
igor / February 2, 2008 at 10:46 am
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this place is really wonderful!! I haven't tried the humitas, but now I will...
Andre / February 4, 2008 at 09:10 pm
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I have known and cherished those empanadas for about ten years now , i am very happy to see the success !
FYI its not called pico de gallo ( that is a mexican thing) their salsa is actualy called Aji.

cheers keep up the awesome blogs !
Miriam Vasen / February 11, 2008 at 09:29 pm
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I have been Jumbo empanadas for a very long time, even before the present location and when they were in the basement next door.
The quality, the ingredients and the magic touch of the spices make them superb; don't forget to try the humitas and corn pies.
Cheers for Irene that has brought to Toronto a taste of Chile for all of us to enjoy.
escubio / December 6, 2008 at 03:44 pm
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Actually in Chile, They use aji (chile peppers) to make a salsa called "pebre"
Dario / March 29, 2009 at 01:12 am
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Its good, But my mom makes better empanadas, pebre, humitas, sopaipilla and cazuela... ha
Walter / April 6, 2009 at 07:32 pm
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Its not bad, but if you really want to try a superb empanada, you should try the famous (over a century on the recipe)MAMA MIA EMPANADAS, at 28 Satterly Rd. North York, (Islingnton, two lights south of Steeles ave.)Trust me, I have been to Chile many times and these empanadas are even better, and dont forget to try the grilled meat sanwiches made in home made bread.TRULY AMAZING!!! and the fresh hot churros filled with dulce de leche WOW WOW. I dont want to tell you any more, just go there and thank me later.
Nadine / December 26, 2009 at 02:43 pm
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Am living in Nova Scotia these days, but I dream of heading back to Toronto for a Humitas and an Empinada!!! MMMM....YUMMY!!!
MARIA / April 16, 2010 at 04:06 am
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REAL EMPANADAS TRY EMPANADAS EXPRESS AT BEST DOLLAR PLUS
BLOOR@DOVERCOUT 647-436-7273
REAL CHILEAN EMPANADAS TASTE BETTER THEN ANY OTHER EMPANADA IN TORONTO.
JOSE / April 16, 2010 at 04:09 am
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YES, BEST EMPANDAS ARE NOT JUMBO EMPANADAS,BEST EMPANDAS AT BEST DOLLAR PLUS,EMPANADAS EXPRESS,EXCELLENT TASTE, REAL TASTE OF CHILEAN EMPANADAS.
Cristian / November 10, 2010 at 02:10 pm
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Hi, we want to thank all our costumers, but we had to moved from "the best dollar plus".
We are now called "Campo Empanadas" we are located in Scarborough. 2759 Kingston rd. @ Brimley rd. M1M-1M8
We will deliver to our happy costumers in the downtown area.
You can contact us campoempanadas@gmail.com
Thanks again to all our happy costumers...:)
Sonny / January 12, 2011 at 01:31 pm
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Their pastel de choclo is unreal! Best empanadas in the city, and I've tried all the places mentioned above.
OSCAR AVENDANO / April 5, 2011 at 10:31 pm
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JUST THIS!, EMPANADAS MEAN CHILE, CHILE MEAN EMPANADAS. I AM SO PROUD WHEN I SAW A CHILEAN FAMILY TRY TO BRING OUR TRADITIONS,OUR TASTE HERE IN CANADA,AND AROUND THE WORLD. PLEASE TAKE A LOOK AND SUPPORT COMMUNITY RESTAURANT.
Brandon / May 20, 2011 at 01:58 pm
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Great place. The chicken and beef empanadas are delicious. Not too greasy either. The Chilean salad is fantastic too (lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and avocado in an oil/vinegar dressing). One empanada and one salad is the perfect amount of food for lunch.
frank / May 31, 2011 at 09:06 am
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roaches, all i have to say.
leo / August 3, 2011 at 01:12 am
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get real people.. there are all sorts of empandas in the city...some are good some are not so good. theses are not so good.. my 2 cents. check out the churros across the street and the new food court and garden seating area it is great... i will have to check out the ones out in the sticks...
NewToronto replying to a comment from Dario / December 4, 2011 at 10:37 am
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Your a Greaseball! This Place Rocks!
leo replying to a comment from NewToronto / January 2, 2012 at 02:12 pm
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and you know this why? this place is o.k. not great. but then again mostplaces in the city are o.k. because most people can't cook anything to save thier lives...
damaiky mercuri / January 7, 2012 at 06:50 pm
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I hope my comment will be helpfull for you guys. I've found a real gem. I moved to the north part of the city and I had a very pleasant surprise...I found MAMA MIA PLACE, they have the best EMPANADAS I EVER HAD, hot- fresh-crispy CHURROS WHILE U WAIT, AUTHENTIC BURRITOS, SANDWICHES AND ALL KIND OF DELICIOUS FOOD.
THE PLACE IS VERY NICE, THE PRICES AFFORDABLE, THE SERVICE IS GREAT AND THE LATIN MUSIC IS AMAZING.
LIKE I SAID...I FOUND A REAL GEM !!!
www.mamamiaplace.com
Blanche / February 27, 2012 at 08:24 pm
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The best empanadas are in Kensington Market, JUMBO EMPANADAS, amazing salad, humitas and much more....... thank you for such a wonderful food!!!!
Axel replying to a comment from damaiky mercuri / April 19, 2012 at 01:56 am
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Chilean food isn´t latin food. Chileans aren´t latins, they share some values with latin people like language, but their culture is way different. I found Chile and Chileans more Europeans...first world, organized. The food is good, nothing to do with burritos which are also amazing. Calling Chileans, Argentinians and Uruguayans latins is like calling Israelians Asians... no offence, but isnt just the impression that I got living and stuying over there... but also tons of facts. I made the point just to let people know that South American doesn´t mean latin.
John / April 27, 2012 at 09:35 am
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Love you long time BlogTO for introducing me to amazing food time after time! Keep em coming!
Mike / May 3, 2012 at 10:54 pm
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Last time i eat here! I just ate an onionada ! I am going back to Empanada Company !!! Their empanadas are delicious and a better price and most of all they have more meat than onion.
Camille / May 23, 2012 at 03:02 pm
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I hate it when places over charge for lettuce with a quarter of a tomato and call it a salad. Thanks for the iceberg lettuce and lemon juice it really hit the spot. I can get 3 tacos for the same price nextdoor.
lauren / January 13, 2013 at 09:25 am
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the humitas and cheese empanadas are absolutely delicious! perfect lunch spot in the market!
Duckie / March 4, 2014 at 09:53 pm
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Love this place. The salsa is to die for
yochie / March 4, 2014 at 10:04 pm
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I really love this place but last time I went here the raisins in the beef empanada tasted like bursts of mold. So gross.

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