Mmmm…empanadas. Those little magical pillows of sweet or savory goodness that all Miamians know and love.
There are Argentinian empanadas and Venezuelan empanadas and Cuban empanadas and Bolivian empanadas. Empanadas made from wheat flour or corn flour, filled with beef or spinach or cheese or chicken. Empanadas for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
They are portable. They don’t make a mess (much). They’re usually best warm, but they’re fine cold, too. They are one of the most perfect foods around, truly.
Are you hungry yet? Me too. Let’s dish out the top spots in town for empanadas so we can all get our fix.
1. Patagonia Nahuen
Patagonia Nauhen is undoubtedly one of the hottest spots in Doral (and in Miami) for high-quality empanadas. The empanadas here are of the Argentine variety and include such flavors as chorizo, four cheese, humitas (sweet corn), caprese and spicy meat. Each of these savory pockets runs just under $2 and can be enjoyed with house-made chimichurri. Nauhen gets packed during lunch thanks to the Doral office crowd, so be prepared to grab a number and wait if necessary.
2. 5411 Empanadas
5411 Empanadas’ approach to empanadas is different from most places. While Argentine in style, the flavors are much more unique. You’ll discover empanadas filled with mushroom, thyme and blue cheese, ratatouille or the ever popular bacon-date-goat cheese pillow of awesome. They also have specifically breakfast-style empanadas (like breakfast chorizo or black bean egg) as well as a sweet banana nutella empanada (because there’s always room for nutella). Trendy and intimate, it’s a wonderful spot for lunch ($10 for 3 empanadas and a glass of wine), though they also deliver in case you’d rather indulge at home.
3. La Palma Cafeteria
Some folks prefer their empanadas deep fried and from the window of a Cuban cafeteria. Cue La Palma, a West Miami diamond in the rough where crisp, flavorful empanadas can be purchased on the cheap. Flavors don’t stray much from ham and cheese, beef or guava, but that doesn’t make them any less delicious. Sometimes you just need to stick to the basics. Plus, how many places can you go to at 3 a.m. for an empanada fix? Because, oh yes, La Palma is open 24/7, baby.
4. Milly’s Empanada Factory
Milly’s is an actual factory with an adjacent cafe doling out some top-notch, Venezuelan-style empanadas. While not the cheapest eats (each tasty treat is $2.75), most folks don’t seem to mind. Flavors here are rich but simple: chicken, beef, cheese, or the vegetarian (black beans and cheese), all served with a homemade hot salsa. Milly’s customers are loyal and love coming here not only for the empanadas and friendly service but also for the art. The small eatery displays work by local artists, rotating them every few months.
If you like your empanadas with a side of ambiance, Bunbury is the place for you. Enjoy your empanadas and wine intimately indoors or al fresco under a string of twinkling lights, and you’ll see what we mean. But let’s get to the empanadas, which are all baked. Options include four cheese with smoked bacon, shredded chicken with veggies, goat cheese and ratatouille, hand-cut beef, braised lamb and of course, the “Bunbury”—a concoction of prosciutto, mushrooms and brie. All are excellent, though there are few options for the vegetarian here.
6. Empanada Harry’s Bakery and Cafe
This is the eternal quandary: Do we want Chilean empanadas or Venezuelan ones? How about Peruvian-style? Maybe our Argentine friend is with us and wants a taste of home? Don’t worry because at Empanada Harry’s, you can get baked or fried empanadas from all four of these countries. And as Harry grew up in the bakery business (his dad was also a chef, and his grandma ran bakeries in multiple countries), you know he’s doing it right. Word on the street is the empanadas here are always well stuffed and pair well with the excellent selection of beer and wine available. Oh, and if you decide against empanadas, there are other menu options including some bangin’ brunch treats like guava and cheese waffles and truffle balsamic eggs over truffle fries. There are even a few things on the menu for vegans.
7. Ricky Bakery
If you grew up in Miami, you probably used to get all your empanadas and pastries at the local Don Pan. Now, we have a new (and many say better) option for our Latin faves: Ricky Bakery. With four locations across town, this spot offers a number of yummy empanada options including ham and chorizo, guava and chicken. Plus, you can pick up tamales, pastelitos, bocaditos and more. Pro tip: Hit them up in the mornings when everything’s still fresh out of the oven.
This North Beach establishment stays popular thanks to its fabulous empanadas (though the pizza’s also a winner). Expect the standard flavors of empanada done right: chicken, ham and cheese, beef, cheese and onion, and of course, spinach. They’ve also got things like milanesas, salads, pastas, burgers—the standard fare you might find at most Argentine restaurants in town. Definitely a more casual empanada joint, but it certainly doesn’t disappoint.
9. GoGo Fresh Food
GoGo Fresh Food doesn’t sound like the name of a place where you’d get kick-ass empanadas, right? More like the place your crossfit friends flock to post-workout or something. Still, this health-conscious spot is actually well-known for its wide and eclectic list of empanadas. For the vegetarians, there’s the eggplant Parmagiano, egg white with spinach and Swiss cheese and spinach and feta. Meat lovers will love scarfing down the Philly cheesesteak, meatball and provolone, chicken pot pie, and spicy Thai peanut chicken, among other flavors. And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, there’s dulce de leche with blackberries or nutella and banana. There are even more flavors, but you’ll have to go and test them all out yourself.
10. Gaucho’s Gourmet Market
Gaucho’s is your one-stop shop for all the Argentine goodies you’ll ever need, including some truly addictive empanadas. For $2.45 a pop, try these perfectly made, savory pastries stuffed with mushrooms, prosciutto, tuna, sausage and more. Then mosey over to the wine section, where you’ll find around 500 labels or so of vino to make your heart content. You can also pick up meat from the butcher plus other goodies from their deli and bakery. But really, you’ll want to just grab a box of a dozen empanadas and run before anyone asks you to share.