The Empanada Company
Empanada Company occupies a nook next Woody's Burgers , where it's unlikely to receive much attention. Walk-ins will discover it to be a tiny retail outlet with just a window for ordering and a few stools facing the window (though a patio in the summer makes it a viable sit-down destination).
Chilean-born owner Christian Heise started out in banquet halls over two decades ago before opening this South American snack shop. He's been operating at this location for the last seven years and has since amassed a steady following of locals, as well as regular catering clients and cafes, to which he sells wholesale (you've likely had his empanadas at your local cafe).
Empanadas are, of course, the main attraction, and the line-up includes over a dozen full-size options ($3 to $4 each) as well as ten different types of mini canapé-sized empanadas ($9/dozen). Family recipes are employed to make traditional empanadas: chicken or beef with onions, olives and raisins; a melange of seafoods in white wine cream sauce; or a mix of cheeses spiked with jalapeños.
More unique are the nouveau interpretations: There's one with a deboned chicken wing glazed in cayenne and butter and encrusted in traditional pastry, while others are filled with sautéed leeks and prosciutto, braised beef short ribs, or coconut curry chicken in turmeric pastry.
House-made dips are extra, (one for $1.20, two for $2, or three for $2.75) in flavours like artichoke and asiago, chipotle spinach sour cream and an emulsified chimichurri.
The mini empanadas are most likely meant to be ordered by the tray for canapé receptions, but an assorted dozen with a side of panko-crusted avocado fries ($4.50) makes for a pretty good snack. Not to mention, I like the delightful surprise of not knowing which empanada I'm about to bite into next.
Vegetarians and gluten-free eaters can take part, too, with masa-wrapped tamales ($5) filled with chipotle-spiced corn, tomatoes, spinach, corn and queso fresco. A dish of chimichurri sauce comes on the side, but unlike most of the menu, this is decidedly not a finger food.
On the sweet side, there are churros ($4.50 for six), delicious sugar dusted doughnut sticks with deep-hued dulce de leche for dipping.
Most unique - and possibly the highlight of this visit - is the s'mores empanada ($3.75), stuffed with banana and Nutella in a graham cracker and vanilla pastry with marshmallow bruleed on top.
Find the shop open for quick pick-up Tuesday to Saturday from noon until at least 8pm. A complete menu for catering is available online for pre-ordered pick-ups, too.
Photos by Jesse Milns