Where the empanadas are.
Its seems as though the Northside neighborhoods of Lincoln Park and Lakeview are Chicago's hot spot for tasty empanadas. We already featured the fresh baked Argentinian empanadas from El Mercado food mart in Lakeview last March. Well since then two more spots focusing on the popular Latin American street snack have opened. Its nice to see that even in neighborhoods where everything is commercial, we can still support the Ma and Pa type family owned spots. So lets take a look at two of my favorite places to munch on snacks of any kind.
The more recent to open up of the two shops is Macondo. Its on the 2900 block of Lincoln located near the corner of Lincoln, Southport and Wellington in Lakeview. The people behind this new Colombian coffee and empanada shop are the owners of Las Tablas Colombian steakhouse which is located right down the block. The menu is fairly simple along with fair trade Colombian coffee and different baked goods from the region they offer empanadas. Its a nice place inside to go have a sip of coffee and a quick bite to eat and a good spot to meet up with someone. Its a comfortable feeling when you enter and the service is great.
Newly Opened on Lincoln ave in Lakeview
The Good's (Menu)
Coffee Menu (click pic to enlarge)
Empanada Menu (click pic to enlarge)
Other food offerings (click pic to enlarge)
Colombian bakery treats (click pic to enlarge)
I'm not a coffee drinker but Macondo is the first establishment in Chicago to be serving Jaun Valdez caféREALE brand. Said to be Colombia's most internationally celebrated coffee it is owned by a farmer co-op and funds small coffee making communities throughout Colombia. I stopped by on a early Saturday afternoon and it was quite quiet but they were just celebrating their grand opening. As you can see from the menu the empanadas are cocktail sized and come two to an order. The empanada is one of those foods that has so many different preparations from so many countries and since its dough filled with ingredients and then usually fried or baked, the possibilities are endless. Macondo's empanadas are prepared the Tolimense style which comes from the Tolima province in Colombia. So the empanadas are made with a corn flour shell and deep fried. I went with an order of Tradicional, carne molida and then decided last second I couldn't pass on the pollo. Gotta try them all and I wanted to try the dessert ones and will soon.
The empanadas come labeled in a bag that picks up some grease
Each order comes with a housemade Colombian aji hot sauce
I like the fact that these come two to an order making it easier to try them all should you be with anyone. The aji hot sauce had some good flavor and enhanced the overall taste and could be eaten solo, in my opinion anyways. So how were they? excellent if I may say. They come out freshly fried so they're nice and hot and still were by the time I got home ten minutes later. I thought each of the three flavors were really good and would order them all again. My favorite was for sure the Tradicional with the shredded beef and potato which is always a winning combo.
Tradicional (shredded beef with potato)
Carne Molida (picadillo-seasoned ground beef)
Pollo (marinated chix breast with red & green peppers)
I would say price wise they might seem a little expensive at $2.50 per order considering they are cocktail sized and can be finished in two bites. But considering the quality and goodness of them it can also be looked at as a bargain. They offer them in half dozen and dozen orders at a cheaper price for catering and parties and what not. It is no doubt a welcome addition to the neighborhood and the city in general. If your ever in the area or live by Macondo and are a coffee drinker or enjoy empanadas as much as I do then get over there and check them out. While your at it you can do a compare and contrast with Lito's in Lincoln Park. Another first class empanada place.
Time sure does fly and Lito's is a fine example of that saying. I thought it opened maybe a year ago but I guess Lito's has been in its small storefront on Clark Just south of Wrightwood since late 2007. I wasn't sure when I first ate at Lito's that it would make it in LP. You know as sad as it is, I thought the empanada might of been to foreign of a food item to the big ten, yuppie crowd. Lito's is also owned by a Colombian and they only do empanadas. Its always a good sign and good clue to good food when a place can focus on one thing making it easier to do it right.
Lito's on Clark in LP is a small store putting out big taste
The Good's (Menu)
Lito's offers only Empanadas and that's all you need
Since its in the neighborhood and is an excellent choice for a quick snack I have been over to Lito's a few times since they opened. The empanadas are a little more than $2 bucks each and although the hot sauce is a quarter extra its a must get. The dough is hand rolled and they use a machine in the back to stuff and then seal each one. I read on LTH that these are wheat based empanadas and as you can see that aside from just size the dough is different than Macondo's ones above. The dough seemed to be a different variety for the Hawaiian flavored ones and I enjoy both types. Each empa' is fried fresh upon ordering and ready to go after about a five minute wait.
Lito's aji hot sauce is filled with flavor...great stuff
I have tried a few of the flavors at Lito's and have to say that the beef, their trademark, is my favorite. I also think the Hawaiian ones filled with ham, cheese and pineapple are a real treat and will sometimes get one and one of those with the beef. I really want to try the other flavors and soon will get too but for now I cant pass up on the beef. The flavor combo of the ground beef, olives, raisins, potato's, peppers and onions along with the housemade hot sauce is one of the best snacks in the city. Its taking time but Lincoln Park is slowly getting more and more good eating spots to go along with the classics that have survived time and the neighborhoods change. I'm hoping Lito's is around in a long time and I dont see it being taken over by a Jamba Juice anytime. It seems to always have passerby's stopping in for what is an excellent snack in between or make it a full meal by ordering a few.
The beef empanada from Lito's is superb
Chicken (L) Hawaiian (top) Beef (R)
2965 N Lincoln Ave
Chicago, IL 60657
Chicago, IL 60657
Website (music plays)
2566 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60614