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  • Writer's pictureLaura Harris

Empanada Escapades

Someone please explain to me how I went 23 years without ever trying an empanada?

My roommates and I have been tackling the best restaurants in Lakeview, including my favorite empanada shops. A main component of my diet now includes the empanadas along Southport Corridor and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The best way to explain my new obsession with you lovely readers is to start by rating the appearance, taste, and texture of each. If you know me well you won’t be surprised to find out which restaurant is my favorite…let’s get started!

Bodega Sur serves fantastic drinks, but unfortunately, the empanada I tasted was rather lackluster. I ordered a spinach and cheese empanada with an oil-based Italian dipping sauce on the side. At first glance, it looked tasty, but I wasn’t impressed with the flavor of the filling and texture. Sadly, I have to give Bodega Sur a 4/10 for their spinach and cheese. At El Mercado Food Mart I bought their fried chicken empanada along with their smaller ham and cheese empanada. I found both of these fillings to be substantially better than the spinach and cheese however I would still only give the fried chicken a 6/10. The ham and cheese filling was oozing out of the pastry which I truly didn’t mind, 7/10. Overall, two empanadas for $5 is not a bad deal if you ask me.

Along Southport Corridor, we pass 5411 which was one of the first restaurants I tried when moving downtown. I’m a big pasta girl so I had to buy their mac and cheese empanada. These empanadas have a different texture than the rest but the filling was delicious. 5411 makes various, unique flavored empanadas that I’d like to test next. Final verdict, 7.5/10.

A special appearance on our Southport Corridor tour is Café Ba-Ba-Reeba! All the tapas were alluring, especially their fried chicken empanada. This one was juicier than El Mercado with a crispier texture so I have to give it an 8/10.

Now I have to give a plug for the winner of my little excursion, Café Tola. Every time I grab a coffee here, I most often snag an empanada to-go as well. The chicken salsa verde empanada is a solid 9/10 while the buffalo chicken empanada is a whopping 10/10, would recommend. I would call myself a regular, loyalty member, and an absolute stan. They have several locations downtown so if there’s a location by you, stop by and mention my name!

After 23 lonely years without empanadas, I’m pleased to know Southport Corridor is stocked!

*Some of these ratings may be harsh and a little biased…don’t hate the player hate the game.

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