Denver's five best empanadas

Categories: Best of Denver

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Mark Manger
The empanadas at Maria Empanada are Argentine.
Just about every culture in the world makes some kind of savory stuffed pastry, and in South America, it's the empanada that's king. No two countries make the same type of hot pocket; whether an empanada is deep-fried or baked and what it's stuffed with is a clear market of where it came from.

This city showcases an array of different varieties of empanadas from several different countries, but here, in no particular order, are Denver's five best empanadas from South America.

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Mark Manger
Frijoles Colorado Cuban Cafe, 4 West Alameda Parkway, Lakewood
This beachy strip mall joint serves up all several Cuban specialties, including the island's version of empanadas, which are fried. The restaurant features a case that's perpetually stocked with several flavors of the snack, including ham and cheese and the ropa vieja -- succulent, spicy shredded beef. But we're partial to the guava and cheese because the crackly pastry encases a particularly delicious molten combination of sweet guava paste and tart cream cheese.

MariaEmpanada-028.jpg
Mark Manger
Maria Empanada5209 West Mississippi Avenue, Lakewood
It took Lorena Cantarovici -- the owner of Maria Empanada, which I review this week -- a long time to adapt her mother's Argentine empanada recipes and make it work in Colorado, but she finally mastered it, and with excellent results. Her baked pastries feature crusts at once brittle and chewy encasing spicy green olive-studded shredded beef, juicy shredded chicken, gooey ham and cheese and, our very favorite, sweet corn infused with the savory earthiness of mild bell peppers and a hint of heat from crushed red-pepper flakes.

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Mark Manger
Empanada Express Grill, 2600 East Street, Golden
The Empanada Express Grill got its start as a street cart hawking arepas and Venezuelan empanadas, puffy half moon pockets made of corn flour that are crispy on the outside and crumbly within. The place offers more than a dozen traditional fillings, including black beans with sweet plantain, cheese and avocado, carnitas and fish. But the one you really shouldn't miss is the Pabellon Criollo empanada, a pocket filled with tender, juicy braised beef, black beans, plantains and cheese.

Location Info

Frijoles Colorado Cuban Cafe

12095 W. Alameda Parkway, Lakewood, CO

Category: Restaurant

Maria Empanada - CLOSED

5209 W. Mississippi Ave., Lakewood, CO

Category: Restaurant

Empanada Express Grill - CLOSED

2600 E. St., Golden, CO

Category: Restaurant

Little Brazil

8020 Federal Blvd., Westminster, CO

Category: Restaurant

Buenos Aires Pizzeria

1319 22nd St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant


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4 comments
Vic-Stevinson
Vic-Stevinson

YOU SCORED on this one, Buenos Aires Pizzeria creates amazing empanadas. If you want some for a party, let them know so you can finish cook them at home. The Blue Cheese and Onion with Chimichurri is mind-blowing!

Food alert: Maria Empanada is taking over the space at 1298 South Broadway (previously a Spicy Pickle shop, then Buffalo Doughboy Bakery).

davebarnes
davebarnes

1. Go to Maria Empanada for the empanadas.2. Go to Empanada Express for the AREPAS!!!!

Monique Inda
Monique Inda

Las Islitas on So Federal Blvd. and FloridaI love their shrimp empanada

Vic-Stevinson
Vic-Stevinson

@Monique Inda The shrimp empanada at Paxia (40th/Tejon) is amazing. They're prepared to order, so the filling doesn't sit in the dough for long. Thin dough and very crispy, lots of shrimp.

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