More portable and infinitely more flavorful than sandwiches, adding an empanada or two to your lunchtime repertoire is sure to cure your weekly “what-to-pack blues”. And if you’re in Manhattan, its never been easier to get your hands around these warm soft turnovers with a crisp outer layer than at Ruben’s.
If you need an introduction, empanadas are floury pockets filled with different combinations of meat, cheese, vegetables, and fruits. The word empanada is derived from the Spanish empanar which means to cover in bread. In South America, empanadas are a common snack food but despite their Latin origins, these golden pastries are eaten across the globe. Distinct from the Jamaican meat patty, British pasty, or Italian calzone, the Argentinean empanada, lighter than the more traditional flaky texture, is Ruben’s specialty.
A departure from traditional preparation, Ruben’s bakes rather than fries their empanada shells fresh daily at their Long Island City Bakery. With nearly 20 empanada varieties on their menu including breakfast and dessert, it can be hard to choose but my favorites are the plump spicy chicken with a lively mix of tomatoes, onions, and cilantro; the finely chopped broccoli with melted mozzarella and ricotta cheese; and the whole wheat vegan spinach stuffed with tofu and nutmeg.
For an extra zing, squirt some hot sauce into the pocket after each bite. And at $4 each, you’ll still have some change left over for one of their cherry, guava and cheese, or apple dessert empanadas.
77 Pearl St.
Take the N,R,W, or 1 line to Whitehall St.