Friday, August 28, 2015

Empanada Triangle

-Grubbing in Chicago
Empanadas Everywhere

The Cubs are on fire and Wrigleyville, and in larger part Lakeview, is buzzing. There's an entire new culture of baseball being paved and it couldn't be more exciting. Even the food options in and around the stadium have gotten better. Today I present a little empanada eating triangle that will take you thru Lakeview. The snacks which are popular in many South American countries are becoming a favorite quick bite for the residents of the neighborhood. On top of these three there's also the wonderful baked empanadas most always available in the case in front at El Mercado Meat Market.
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5411 Empanadas

We'll start off with the odds on favorite for most well known of the trio. 5411 Empanadas got its start as a food truck and they now have two brick & mortar locations including the first to open on Clark street just next door to the Century Mall. 5411 sells Argentinian style baked empanadas. The menu boasts a couple handfuls worth of flavors and each of comes wrapped its own way so the customer can tell which is which. I'm partial to the beef with malbec sauce. Others I've found to be too sweet or lacking flavor. The chimichurri dipping sauce does pair perfectly with the Malbec beef filling. For whatever reason I've found the offerings at Clark street to be better than North avenue.

Empanadas at 5411 Empanadas
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Empanadas, Burgers & More

A couple miles North on Clark you'll find this somewhat new spot with a pretty generic name. I wasn't sure what to think of it but the menu, the empanada side anyway, did tempt me to stop in. Boy am I glad I did. This place is making Colombian style empanadas which means they're fried.

Empanadas at Empanadas, Burgers, & More

The menu boasts about ten different selections though I haven't been able to order anything other than the traditional Colombian chicken which comes packed with shredded chicken, rice, hard boiled egg, and lots of onion and garlic mixed in. The other one I love is the Mexican nacho offering. It comes with seasoned ground beef, nacho cheese, refried beans, sauteed onions, and peppers. Its a big ass fiesta in your mouth. They also offer two different dipping sauces. One being a traditional Colombian style Aji dipping sauce made with tomato, cilantro, green onions and vinegar. The other is called a a Salsa Rosada and it's a blend of ketchup, mayo and a secret ingredient. I was surprised by this place.

The inside of a Macho Nacho
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Cafe Tola

Our final spot is on Southport just North of Addison. It's a cute little building that I always thought would make a great hot dog spot. For a while it was a exterminator company's office but a couple years ago this vibrant little coffee shop opened up shop. It needs to be more well known. While I don't drink coffee they make their own empanadas in house and if they have the shredded goat option available you will be in for one of the best things you've eaten lately. They must pack it in cold because somehow the baked treat packs plenty of juice when you bite into it. Go see for yourself.

Empanada at Cafe Tola
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5411 Empanadas
2850 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 755-5411

Empanadas, Burgers & More
3307 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 857-0189

Cafe Tola
3612 N Southport Ave
Chicago, IL 60613
(773) 687-8428

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