License 2 Grill Brings Empanadas To Thornwood Neighborhoods

The South American staple is given a new spin with flavors like hot dog and cheeseburger (don’t worry, the classic options are still there for purists).

License 2 Grill’s (802 Commerce St, Thornwood 914-747-0009; menu doesn’t mention empanadas—or any Spanish or Latin American cuisine for that matter. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything out of the ordinary at this 19-seat location on Thornwood’s main thoroughfare: a few small tables; a laminated menu touting burgers, wraps, salads, wings, etc.; and a friendly greeting from owner Erica Gendler. But glance over to the handwritten specials board and, ah, there they are… 

Gendler, a Port Chester resident, bought License 2 Grill in early 2014 and has since spiced up the menu with her subtle but distinct flair for inventiveness: house-made potato chips with a “secret” seasoning; a Nutella milkshake that utilizes frozen bananas in place of ice to keep the shake satisfyingly thick and stave off dreaded mid-shake melt (it really works); and now, of course, empanadas in flavors like “hot dog” (hot dog pieces with sauerkraut) and cheeseburger (beef and cheese), in addition to the standard barbecued pulled pork, chipotle chicken, classic beef, etc. We tried them and can say that these are not “just” empanadas—they are golden crescents of fried deliciousness that will have you wondering whether “Thornwood” is actually a hub of Spanish street food and no one told you, and where the heck Gendler learned to make such authentic-tasting treats. (“I had a lot of Spanish boyfriends growing up in the Bronx,” she says.)

The ’nadas debuted at the Mount Pleasant Day Street Fair and Car Show in mid-August. Gendler was looking for something quick and easy to sell in a pinch and “they sold out, and people have been ordering them nonstop ever since,” she says. So now they’re unofficially part of the menu. And if you’re looking to feed the family, you can order them by the dozen, and she’ll even make them in mini party-size for catering.

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