Wednesday, July 23, 2014Mostly Cloudy 22°C
Best of Toronto

The Best Empanadas in Toronto

Posted by Guest Contributor / April 27, 2012

Empanadas TorontoThe best empanadas in Toronto aren't only about hallmark examples of a classic street food. Scan the list, walk into a few shops, ask a few questions, and a theme unfolds. You'll hear "It's our grandmother's recipe," or "my mother bakes them," or "the recipe is three generations old." It becomes clear that what sets these empanadas apart is a soulful desire to properly represent the earthy flavours of a culture as well as a family tradition. After a few such stories, the empanadas themselves--rustic, golden, scented, warm--somehow taste even better.

It's also worth noting that the theme runs as broadly as it does deep. The shops here cover a spectrum of Toronto's Latin American fabric: from the beefy mélange of Chile's quintessential baked empanada to the smoky crunch of Colombia's fried corn flour pastry.

Here are the best empanadas in Toronto.

See also:

The best Latin American restaurants in Toronto
The best Latin American cafes and bakeries in Toronto
The best burritos in Toronto
Where to eat arepas in Toronto

Writing by Leilah Ambrose. Top photo by Morris Lum.

Jumbo Empanada

Jumbo Empanada

At the back of Jumbo Empanada, Irene is stirring beef that has been slow-simmering all day. The recipe comes from her grandmother, and it tastes accordingly. This Kensington Market favourite offers up larger-scale beef and chicken variations of the classic Chilean empanadas al horno ($4.50), which are baked, doughy pastry envelopes containing a mixture of fine-cut spiced meats, onions, chopped egg, olives and plump, sweet raisins. Their piquant homemade salsa acts as a delightfully bright foil. More »

El Almacen

El Almacen

This Argentinian enclave on West Queen West serves up Mendoza-style empanadas with flavour just as colourful as the Fileteado Porteño-style sign that hangs out front ($2.25 for 1 or $6.50 for 3). Airy, flaky baked pastry is filled with pitch-perfect combinations like onions, chile peppers, egg and minced beef or dulcet spinach and cream cheese (available on special order). After, partake in a Mate, a heady blend the Argentinians swear by as a dietary aid, which is a useful tool when on empanada safari. More »

The Empanada Company

The Empanada Company

The owners of the Empanada Company work from a recipe that is half a century in the making. You'll find both classic preparations and more contemporary fillings, including Cajun pulled pork, and a sweet-savoury combination of leek and prosciutto. The crust is traditionally baked, unless requested otherwise, and with a price point that ranges between $2.25 to $2.75 per empanada, there's no reason not to try them all because, yes folks, they deliver. More »

Pasteleria Barreda

Pasteleria Barreda

On a stretch of Christie St., just north of Fiesta Farms, a Chilean husband and wife keep the traditions of their national dish alive. Osvaldo and Leonor Barreda's storefront may not scream its credentials from the street, but inside, the couple work to turn out 200 empanadas a day. Though also available in chicken, cheese or spinach ($2.50), the beef (consistently recommended) has a nuanced flavour that'll haunt you for the rest of the week. More »

Mama Mia Place

Mama Mia Place

The Chilean empanadas at the cheerfully appointed Mama Mia Place come from a closely guarded recipe which is three generations old. Deep fried or toasty from the oven, Mama Mia's offerings ($2.50) err on the meatier side. There are, however, vegetarian options, including a cross-cultural nod to spanikopita, containing spinach and a bite of warm, salty feta cheese. It may be tough, but save room for their churros with a meltingly doughy interior of dulce de leche or Nutella. More »

El Gordo Fine Foods

El Gordo Fine Foods

When they started out, Alfonso Segovia and his brother Leonardo (both butchers) offered Chilean empanadas based on their grandmother's recipe. As Alfonso began to develop a more modern take on fillings, the two decided to divide and conquer. El Gordo now offers over 50 empanada flavours, ranging from the expected (beef, chorizo, cheese), to the arcane (chicken and kimchi). The chorizo empanadas ($3) are particularly crave-worthy, with its silky smooth pimenton-spiked filling. So many tempting options, so little time. More »

Segovia Meat Market

Segovia Meat Market

Contrary to popular belief, Segovia Meats and El Gordo do not share the same empanadas. Leonardo Segovia (Alfonso's younger brother) saw opportunity in the request of purists, who came knocking for their grandmother's tried and true recipes. While his brother built out contemporary flavour profiles, Leonardo demurred. The result is aromatic, authentic empanadas ($3.33) flecked with chunky meat, egg, olive and spices. Between the two storefronts, the brothers Segovia offer a unique chance to respectfully nod to the past, or playfully explore its evolution. More »

Columbus Bakery

Columbus Bakery

Beyond the buoyant signage is a Colombian bakery that dishes up a departure from the Argentinian, Mexican or Chilean empanada style (which are baked with wheat flour pastry). Columbus' Colombian empanadas are smaller, made with yellow corn flour and deep-fried. The satisfying crunch of the corn pastry gives way to a piping hot and richly flavourful beef and potato filling. At the criminally low price of $1, you can afford to anticipate your cravings and buy several, and visit their second location at Jane St. More »

La Merceria

La Merceria

Owner Marcello smiles and explains that yes, his mother is the one who bakes the perfect half moons on display at this lovely café/shop on Adelaide. Fleeing her native Italy in WWII, she settled in Argentina. The empanadas ($2.75) are reflective of the Argentinian style and are small, light-as-air pastries containing a herbaceous filling of spinach and ricotta, or subtly aromatic beef or chicken. Best of all, the empanadas come with homemade chimichurri, which is traditionally enjoyed with meat dishes, but wonderfully punchy as a dipping sauce. More »

Discussion

33 Comments

K-Borg / April 27, 2012 at 09:31 am
user-pic
Happy to see Jumbo Empanada got the #1 spot.
So. Effing. Delicious.
mezimeen / April 27, 2012 at 09:46 am
user-pic
I didn't even look at the list and I knew Jumobo would win. That place is fanatstic! (Raises hands) I'm also excited because its friday...sorry.
Brandon replying to a comment from K-Borg / April 27, 2012 at 10:01 am
user-pic
Agreed! One chicken empanada and one Chilean salad - perfect lunch.
megr / April 27, 2012 at 10:10 am
user-pic
EL GORDO should be higher on the list. El Gordo and Jumbo are the top 2.
That guy / April 27, 2012 at 10:34 am
user-pic
Jumbo was my first Empanada ever, and wont be the last! So awesome.
Pablo / April 27, 2012 at 10:43 am
user-pic
I guess I'm the voice of negativity here, but beside our family recipe. The ones sold from the Segovia Meat Market should be tops, I think Jumbo like alot of the others are just filled with to much onions (which is a cheap way to save them a few bucks).
Salvador / April 27, 2012 at 10:53 am
user-pic
Jumbo? Seriously? A Jumbo empanada is to a real (Chilean) empanada what an assembly line copy is to a hand crafted masterpiece. Yes, I'm Chilean. No, I don't eat Jumbos.
Ty / April 27, 2012 at 11:00 am
user-pic
Does anyone know if there is a place in the city that sells Saltenas (the Bolivian version of empanadas)?

They are so delicious- the pastry is slightly sweet and the filling, while containing mostly the same ingredients as the empanadas, is tastier and has more sauce....mmmm!!
mcflash / April 27, 2012 at 11:04 am
user-pic
I love The Empanada Company but good luck discerning their hours. They seem to be closed way more than they're open.
Eli / April 27, 2012 at 11:12 am
user-pic
I know this isn't Toronto. It's not even Canada. But Rainbow Sweets Bakery in Marshfield, Vermont has the best empanadas ever. They might just have the best food ever. If you ever find yourself on a road trip that takes your through Marshfield, be sure to stop.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rainbow-Sweets-Bakery/118669924836893
Anon / April 27, 2012 at 11:40 am
user-pic
I love the Colombian empanadas at Segovia. Nice to see it on this list.
Leon replying to a comment from mcflash / April 27, 2012 at 11:45 am
user-pic
I agree w this 100% I love their empanadas, especially thier pulled pork one. But good luck catching them when they are open.
Dustin / April 27, 2012 at 11:54 am
user-pic
What a great article, makes me hungry.
K-Borg replying to a comment from Salvador / April 27, 2012 at 11:56 am
user-pic
Don't care. I find them extremely flavourful and satisfying. I've had empanadas from a bunch of different places in Toronto and abroad and I still love Jumbo best.

And Brandon is absolutely correct. Chicken empanada + Chilean salad = the perfect lunch!
Lanternbell / April 27, 2012 at 04:07 pm
user-pic
I'm absolutely in LOVE with the salsa at Jumbo Empanada. I buy tubs of it for home and make nachos. So good...
jd574 / April 27, 2012 at 06:52 pm
user-pic
My only issue with Jumbo is how hot it gets in there in the summer. I feel like I'm ordering in a sauna...
danielle / April 29, 2012 at 08:02 am
user-pic
For me, the empanadas from The Empanada Company and La Merceria are by far the best.
Tony Catriani / May 8, 2012 at 08:10 am
user-pic
I tried Empanadas delSur at The Queensway. The new owners follows the recipe from Edgar, the argentinean former owner. I like them, the chicken one is my favourite. Lots of chicken breast on it ! I also like their "alfajores".
Great alternative for the west enders !!
bobby digital / May 8, 2012 at 08:47 pm
user-pic
I would also like to know where to find Bolivian grub. But back to the topic at hand: Great empanadas can be found in Guelph at Latino's restaurant. Their chef is from Chile (if she's still around, it's been a couple of years since I was last there).
COSPLAY / September 26, 2012 at 10:20 pm
user-pic
Jumbo was my first Empanada ever, and wont be the last! So awesome.
Chef Serge / October 1, 2012 at 08:34 am
user-pic
I just saw this article in October 1 2012. It is really hard to find a good tasty Chilean Empanada in GTA. I am a chilean chef. When I go to any restaurant that claim an authentic taste of any country, the first thing I look at if they have customers from the same culture that go there too. I ve gone to most of the empanada locations and have not been too impress with them. To begin I would like to make clear that I am judging based on the authentic Chilean Beef Empanada. "Jumbo Empanada" went there once and never again, I not sure what they put in the empanada but it is not beef, scary. I eat at Segovia but they are not great and don't have an authentic Chilean flavor but there Chilean sausage is authentic. "El Gordo" are owned by the little brother of Segovia but I believe they are doing other things there and empanada quality has gone down. There is this new place called "Canta Gallo" their Chilean food is great but the empanada flavour not quite there, but they put enough beef in, it'sgood, I tasted Canta Gallo Empanada at a Chilean event but I will go to the restaurant and try them again, the chef is Chilean and the other meals I tried were great. "Pastaleria Barreda" empanadas have the authentic taste but they add too much onions to it. Will go tomorrow to "The Empanada Company" and try them out I also will go to "Mamá Mia Place" and try them out too. The only good place I really liked their empanadas was this place in Brampton, somewhere in Steels. I believe that it was inside supermarket. I never went there but I had my father pick them up a few times. I am not sure if they are open still. If they are and you know who they are please let me know.
Chef Serge replying to a comment from COSPLAY / October 1, 2012 at 08:38 am
user-pic
Walk across the street to Segovia it is a lot better.
Chef Serge / October 1, 2012 at 09:21 am
user-pic
Empanada Lovers I think I found the spot I was talking about in Brampton but it might not be there. Here is the old Location A 9886 Torbram Rd. (at North Park Dr.), inside the Daisy Mart, Brampton, 905-793-2264. Open: Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Closed Sunday. The new location is 9 Milvan Drive, 416-742-2917. Enjoy!!!
Sofia / February 7, 2013 at 10:02 pm
user-pic
I have tried the empanadas at Columbus, and let me tell you, my mom's empanadas are a million times better than the ones they sell there.
Gina / February 11, 2013 at 01:56 pm
user-pic
De se un gusto!

Empanadas de pino o queso

Brazo de Reina! con manjar y crema

Berlines! con crema pastelera o dulce de leche

Y mas!

contacte este aviso por mas informacion

PICK UP ONLY


Try my Chilean Empanadas!

Fresh homemade empanadas for sale

and fresh cake log's with cream and dulce de leche.

contact poster for more information.
Buddyholly / March 29, 2013 at 06:58 pm
user-pic
I tried Jumbo twice. Each time the pastry had the texture of wet cloth, hard and tough and tasteless. Maybe this is Colombian style, but I don't think I have ever encountered pastry this bad, to my taste anyway.
Buddyholly replying to a comment from Buddyholly / March 29, 2013 at 07:03 pm
user-pic
Ok, I said Colombian. Now I am even more confused because I had Chilean neighbours for 15 years and their empanadas were nothing like those at Jumbo.
Buddyholly replying to a comment from Buddyholly / March 29, 2013 at 07:07 pm
user-pic
Sorry, Chilean, not Columbian.
Senora / September 28, 2013 at 03:31 pm
user-pic
The Best empanadas I've had are the ones made by TheEmpanadaDealer.com, their flakey pastry is really tasty and thin, they make them with a different kind of fillings than the usual chilean or colombian empanadas, stuffing them with as much of it as possible! Best of all they come with complimentary Guacamole and Hot Sauce to dip them!
Josie / October 2, 2013 at 03:45 pm
user-pic
So many companies to choose from. Had no idea! All sound great. I just tried the Empanada Kingz at a fundraiser this weekend. They seemed to be a hit, so I purchased a few. Delicious! The beef is so savoury and best of all NO OLIVES :) They seem really friendly and apparently deliver, so thats a bonus. From the business card I got they have a Facebook page Facebook.com/empanadakingz
Highly recommend them as I'll be a repeat customer.
tony / November 18, 2013 at 12:33 am
user-pic
El Gordo Empanadas at 214 Augusta ave should be # 1!!!!!
I think they r the best in the city.
Baked freshly every day.
Over 30 flavours.
CY / March 4, 2014 at 08:54 pm
user-pic
You'll have to re-poll this one, Gourmet Gringos should be on this list!
Cecilia replying to a comment from Chef Serge / March 4, 2014 at 09:25 pm
user-pic
yes Serge, the place is at 9 Milvan (La plaza Latina), I was just there yesterday and even though Im not an empanada eater (onions do not agree with me)the chacareros and lomito sandwiches are the best! and the pan amasado is amazing! Not a full restaurant but they do have a small area to sit, you can always go into the food court to eat as well. I have yet to try Mama Mia. I have tried Segovia's and Jumbo Empanadas but the best are still my moms (even if they kill me after!)

Add a Comment

Other Cities: Montreal