By: Shayne Benowitz
Empanadas in Miami are as diverse and plentiful as the pan-Latin community that makes up this city. With varieties ranging from Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, Cuba and so many more, the bite-sized, dough-wrapped snacks’ origins come from Spain’s Galicia region as far back as the 1500s.
Today in Miami, empanadas are typically baked or fried and pressed into half moon-shaped packets, stuffed with traditional ingredients like ground beef, chicken or spinach and cheese. They also come with sweet fillings, like guava and cream cheese.
Many restaurants have taken creative liberty in these fillings ranging from eggplant parmesan to spicy Thai chicken peanut. One thing is for certain, though, these little morsels are downright delicious and typically cost only about $1 to $2.50 a pop.
Here are a few prime places to sample them throughout Miami.
There is perhaps no more iconic Cuban restaurant in Miami than Versailles Café on Calle Ocho, so swing by the ventanita (window counter) or grab a table here. Choose from beef, chicken or ham—or one of each—and snack on this classic Cuban treat. The Versailles combo adds ham and chicken croquettes and yuca fries served with a cilantro sauce to an order of empanadas for a well-rounded, fried feast.
3501 SW 8th Street in Little Havana
El Nuevo Siglo Supermarket
This hidden gem on Calle Ocho is a well-guarded secret by local denizens. Tucked away in the back of an otherwise unassuming supermarket, look for the bakery/deli counter and restaurant. Grab a table for a full meal or just order a few Argentinian-style empanadas—typically baked with a wheat flour dough—from the cases to go. Traditional options here include beef and chicken for this truly local experience.
1305 SW 8th Street in Little Havana
Serving a wide variety of South American empanada styles, swing by this North Beach bakery and don’t worry about your eyes being bigger than your stomach. Let the expert staff be your guide as you peruse their bakery cases filled with all sorts of tempting confections. From empanadas to tequeños (sticks of melty queso fresco wrapped in dough) to arepas (melted cheese sandwiched by sweet cornmeal patties) to buttery Cuban bread, sugar-glazed pastelitos and all variety of special occasion cakes, you might get distracted from your empanada mission. But don’t. Instead, sample a Venezuelan-style fried empanada with a corn flour dough stuffed with beef or chicken. These juicy concoctions are melt-in-your-mouth delicacies.
7310 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach
One doesn’t normally associate empanadas with health food, but that’s exactly what’s happening at this hole-in-the-wall South Beach salad shop with a cult-like following. Serving up a wide variety of salads with all natural ingredients, they’ve also got an exhaustive list of baked empanadas to choose from. While traditional options are on the list, like the classic Argentine, made with ground beef, olives, sliced hard boiled egg and spices, there’s also totally creative options, like meatball and cheese, chicken pot pie and shrimp scampi. Sweet options range from dulce de leche with blackberries to nutella and banana. The perfect healthy lunchtime order consists of a mini salad and empanada for about $10—or you could go for three or four empanadas.
926 Alton Road on South Beach
Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
For an upscale twist on the empanada, head to Wynwood Kitchen & Bar in trendy Wynwood Arts District and snag a seat outside amongst the Wynwood Walls, an outdoor museum of world class street art. Serving a Latin-inspired menu of small plates, their ropa vieja empanadas with chicken and cilantro crema are not to be missed. Technically not an empanada, but close enough in our book, the tequeños made with ooey-gooey queso fresco, empanada dough and roasted garlic crema are crave-worthy.
2550 NW 2nd Avenue in Wynwood
Voted best spot in Miami for empanadas two years in a row by the Miami New Times, Graziano’s Markets and Restaurants are located across Miami. Established in 1962, this Argentinian steakhouse is a Miami mainstay. Their empanadas are baked and available in a variety of fillings. Known for their steaks and beef, opt for a carne picante empanada made with juicy ground beef and a variety of spices.
2301 Galiano Street in Coral Gables and multiple locations
Half Moon Empanadas
Named for that classic shape associated with empanadas, Half Moon has locations in Miami, including the University of Miami campus. Perfect for take-out, order your choice of classic, Argentine-style empanadas or more inventive varieties like pepperoni and cheese, bacon cheeseburger and ham, egg and cheese. Everything is made from scratch with the freshest ingredients.
at the University of Miami in Coral Gables and multiple locations.
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