Delicious Spree LA to Z...E is for Empanada's Place
LAist is going on a delicious spree around LA from A to Z. This week, we are on E, and today, E is for Empanada's Place.
Every culture has it’s version of a dumpling. The Chinese eat wontons, the Japanese have gyoza, and Koreans call it mahn doo. In europe, Italians have the calzone, and the Polish have their pierogis, which the Russians translate to pirozhki. in Latin America, specifically Argentina, it’s the empanada.
LAist got to try some empanadas for lunch from a tiny little Argentinean restaurant, Empanada’s Place. Although the menu has a few South American inspired sandwiches (grilled skirt steak, beef milanese, chicken chimichurri) as well as argentinean tamales, it would be a crime not to order one of the 16 different empandas.
Like a box of chocolates, each different empanda is shaped and decorated differently to indicate what is inside. Some are authentic Argentina like the criolla, filled with beef, raisins, green onions, and eggs. Others are more creative, inspired by other cuisines. Italian-inspired fugazzeta is made with ham and mozzarella cheese, and the arabe is filled with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, lemon juice, and middle east spices.
We would have been ready to order one of each off the menu, because we had only ever tried empanadas as an appetizer or an hors d'ouevre - small enough to eat in about two bites. These from Empanada's Place, however are huge. One empanada with a side salad could be a meal by itself. LAist decided to try three, even if we wouldn't be able to finish them all: cordobesa (ground beef), pollo (chicken), and pascualina (spinach and cheese).
Empanada's Place, in no way, could ever be good for a diet. Not only are the empandas huge (the size wouldn't matter if they were steamed and stuffed with vegetables) but the fillings here are very rich and very hearty, with combinations of meats, cheeses, heavy gravies, potatoes, and even hard boiled eggs. The pastry is thick (as compared to a thinner eggroll or won ton wrapper) and the entire thing is deep-fried.
Overall, the pastry seemed a little bit too thick and dough-y for our taste and the fillings were blander than we would expect from Latin American food. But what doesn't taste good deep-fried? Well, we think the empanadas might have been better baked, as the taste and smell of the frying oil was pretty strong. We suspect, though, that that's just the way all empanadas are made and that Empanada's Place must do them well because they've been around on the Westside since 1985.
3811 Sawtelle Boulevard (at Venice Boulevard)
Culver City, CA