Miami’s food scene ranges drastically from the super fancy (try getting a table at Sexy Fish at the last minute) and casual (who doesn’t know, and LOVE, La Sandwicherie?). There is, however, an undeniable fusion of Latinesque favorites on most menus.
One of the most popular indulgences is the otherworldly empanada.
But what’s the deal? There are so many styles and fillings of empanadas, how does one decipher it all? To crack the code, we’ve put together a list of the finest empanadas, where they come from and their distinguishing factors.
You’ll be an expert in no time.
- Cuban: Cuban empanadas have a variety of fillings. Shredded chicken, spinach and cheese, guava and cheese and, of course, the traditional “carne” or beef empanada. The beef comes ground, cooked with bell pepper, onion, garlic and tomato. Expect a sweet undertone of cumin, and a green olive here and there. The outer shell is made of flour or wheat and deep fried to perfection.
Where to find them: Little Havana
- Venezuelan: Also deep fried but this time with a white corn shell. Fillings are somewhat similar, though one of the more popular empanadas that you can find in the country itself is generally not available in the US. Empanadas de cazon are stuffed with the meat of a small shark that is found off the coast of Venezuela.
Where to find them: Doral
- Colombian: Similar to Venezuelan empanadas but with a yellow corn shell. The fillings most coveted by Colombians tend to have shredded beef or pork and potatoes. The potatoes are cooked in a special tomato sauce that mixes onions, garlic, spices and cilantro.
Where to find them: Downtown/Brickell
- Nicaraguan: Usually cheesy and on the sweeter side, a Nicaraguan empanada has an outer shell commonly made of sweet plantains, fried, and served hot. Other stuffings include, as you may have guessed, meat or chicken.
Where to find them: East Little Havana
- Argentinian: Empanadas from Argentina, in their most classic style, have a bolder shell of wheat or flour and are baked. The most traditional empanada from Argentina will be filled with beef and slices of hard boiled egg.
Where to find them: Key Biscayne/North Beach
- Mexican: While there are several savory Mexican empanadas, the one that steals the show is of course the sweet one. Empanadas from Mexico are a variety of “pan dulce”, a collection of nearly 2,000 sweet pastries that are common for breakfast. Empanadas have a thin, flour shell and can be filled with marmalades, notably of pineapple.
Where to find them: Homestead/West Little Havana
And there you have it! Now it’s your turn to enjoy an empanada scavenger hunt around all the neighborhoods of Miami!