Popular in areas including Latin America, Southern Europe and parts of Southeast Asia, empanadas are pockets of dough that are stuffed with various fillings and then baked or fried. The result is a savory pastry that’s crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and overall delicious. From your traditional flour dough filled with ground beef to more creative variations such as corn pastry with black beans and plantains, these spots are serving the best empanadas in town.
10 S. 2nd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
You’ll feel like you stepped from the streets of Old City into a courtyard in Havana when you dine at Cuba Libre. Start off your meal with a traditional mojito or a glass of sangria, and then choose a few tapas to share. Along with the yucca fries and the beef and potato croquettes, the empanadas are always a favorite. Named after chef Guillermo Pernot’s mother, Mama Amelia’s empanadas are available with four different fillings, all inspired by the chef’s mother’s recipes. Choose from beef picadillo, pulled pork, chicken and corn or three cheese with roasted onions. They can be ordered as two, three or four for $11, $15 or $20.
Related: Top Cuban Cuisine In Philadelphia
2536 Pine St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Chef Jezebel Careaga bakes empanadas every day at her small Argentinean bar-turned-café hidden at the end of Pine Street. Choose from fillings such as spiced beef, spinach, chicken and more. For something traditional, order the beef empanada stuffed with beef, scallions, sautéed onions and olives. Each empanada is baked and coated with a light egg wash and costs just $2.50, or you can try four for $9. On the second Friday of each month, Gavin’s hosts Empanada Fest, featuring specialty drinks (BYOB) and creative empanada varieties not found on the daily menu.
1141 Pine St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Mixto offers dishes that have been inspired by a variety of cuisines including Caribbean, Latin American and Cuban. While the ropa vieja and seafood paella are always favorites, the empanada appetizer is the perfect way to start any meal. Choose from cheese, chicken or beef, and you’ll receive two for $5. Or add an extra $1 each for crab. With either a green plantain or flour crust, the empanadas are crispy on the outside and full of flavor inside. The dipping sauces add the finishing touch. Visit during happy hour Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and enjoy chicken, cheese or beef empanadas for just $1 each. Pair them with the $5 mojito and margarita specials for the ideal snack and drink combination.
941 Spring Garden St.
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Chef Judith Suzzaro-Campbell brought her family recipes from Venezuela to her unique BYOB in Northern Liberties, Sazon. Gluten-free and made with the best ingredients she can find, her empanadas are described as corn turnovers (rather than your typical flour-based dough) and are fried in corn oil. Fillings include chicken, cheese, black beans, ham and shredded beef. Go all out and order the Pabellon, filled with shredded beef, beans, cheese and sweet plantains for $8.
The Twisted Tail
509 S. 2nd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
At this Headhouse Square juke joint and bourbon house, owner George Reilly and executive chef Leo Forneas offer diners elevated Southern-style cuisine that’s largely focused on charcoal-grilled dishes. When you’re ordering favorite grill bites such as octopus, clams and pork belly, don’t forget to try the empanadas, which are on the appetizer section of the menu. Two flaky pastry pockets are stuffed with pulled pork and cheddar for a barbecue take on an empanada. A little jar of roasted tomatillo chimichurri sauce completes the $10 dish.
Michelle Hein is the social media editor for a women’s fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn’t pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery…perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer fiance would love to open.