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8 Places to Celebrate National Empanada Day in Westchester

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Whether you crave them for lunch, dinner, or dessert, you’ll want to check out the empanadas offered by these fine Westchester eateries.

Did you know that empanadas have been around for over 500 years? It’s true! These delicious pastries are thought to have originated in a place called Galacia, located on the northwestern shore of modern-day Spain. The first time they were mentioned by name was in a cookbook published in Catalan in 1520, described as a fried flour pastry filled with fish. In fact, the word empanada comes from the Spanish phrase “Em Pranar,” which means “wrapped in bread.”

In 500 years, the humble empanada has come quite a long way. Now, people of all cultures make and enjoy many different types of empanadas. From ones with savory beef fillings to ones packed with irresistible chicken and cheese, from ones made with traditional flour shells to ones made with a much sweeter maize shell, you’ll rarely find two empanadas that look — or taste — exactly the same.

To help you celebrate National Empanada Day (and get a delicious bite of that storied history while you’re at it), we’ve compiled a list of eight Westchester eateries that perfectly demonstrate just how versatile these tasty little pastries can be.

Aqui es Santa Fe

32 Broad St, Port Chester; 914.305.1060

Faithfully serving the community of Port Chester since 2008, this restaurant brings the very best in traditional Colombian cuisine to the table. The empanada options reflect this commitment to tradition, including classic flavors such as beef, chicken, three cheese options (including plain, with spinach, and with guava), and the fan-favorite black bean. Those looking for a newer take on these old classics would do well to check out the ham and pineapple or the blueberry goat cheese offering.

 

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La Hacienda Meat & Grocery Market

1727 Central Park Ave, Yonkers; 914.685.3242

When La Hacienda was opened a little over a year ago, Yonkers locals were taken by the spot’s commitment to authenticity. Despite being newcomers to the Latin cuisine scene of Westchester, this brother-owned luncheonette already has the makings of a titan. The empanadas — which come in the classic chicken, beef, and cheese flavors — are simply to die for. Give them a try and thank us later!

La Camelia

234 N Bedford Rd, Mt Kisco; 914.666.2466

La Camelia’s unique blend of Spanish and Portuguese cuisine has kept its Mount Kisco customers crawling back for seconds since 1984. If it’s a little taste of Spain that you’re after on National Empanada Day, order a batch of the much-loved “Empanadíllas Gallegas.” Don’t let their smaller size discourage you, for these delicious pastries are filled to the brim with veal and served with a side of mixed greens. Good things really do come in small packages!

Don Coqui

107 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains; 914.576.7676

If you’re like us then you know, when it comes to empanadas, Boricua is Best! When it comes to great Puerto Rican food in White Plains, there are few restaurants that can match Don Coqui’s level of flair, flavor, and finesse. The DC Mixed Empanadas from the dinner menu comes with six of these tasty turnovers cut in half. Customers have their choice of shrimp, beef, chicken, cheese, or vegetable fillings. Pro Tip: If you’re looking to organize a get-together with some friends or family, this option is also available on Don Coqui’s exclusive party menu.

 

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The Cube Inn

22 Main St, Tarrytown; 914.372.7974

Don’t let the tongue-in-cheek name fool you; this family-owned restaurant is no joke when it comes to serving “Killer Cuban Cuisine.” Since it opened its doors in late 2020, The Cube Inn has been loyally providing the residents of Tarrytown with a little slice of Havana. The Cube Inn has five different flavors of delicious Cuban-style empanadas, including beef (picadillo), chicken (fricassee), Creole shrimp, veggie (sofrito and cheese), and cheese (guayaba).

 

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Shirley’s India

1 Leroy Pl, New Rochelle; 914.632.6736

When you hear the word “empanada,” odds are that Indian cuisine is one of the last things you’d think of; but that very well might change after a visit to this New Rochelle mainstay. In addition to its extensive menu of Indian favorites, Shirley’s has added a limited-edition empanada that’s sure to bring the heat just in time for National Empanada Day. In keeping with the restaurant’s roots, the special empanada is packed with potato masala, butter chicken, and cheese filling. The pastries are also topped with powdered sugar and served with butter chicken sauce and “not mint” sauce. Pro Tip: These limited-edition empanadas will be going away in the coming weeks, so be sure to grab some while you still can.

 

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For Sweet-Seekers:

We all know that one person who’s always looking to take their dessert game to the next level; a sweet-toothed explorer for whom rocky road or chocolate cakes are just too mundane. To help these dessert fans find their new sugary faves — while also helping those who just want a little side of sugar while they celebrate National Empanada Day — we’ve found two eateries that specialize in making dessert variants of these oft-loved pastries.

El Barrio

185 Summerfield St, Scarsdale; 914.723.2600

As the name implies, this Mexican restaurant from Scarsdale places an emphasis on comfort and community, and nothing says comfort like a good dessert menu. El Barrio has two separate options for dessert empanadas, both of which are just too good to pass up: rainbow cookie and Nutella. Both are served with a topping of powdered sugar.

Nutella Cheesecake Empanada | Photo Courtesy of El Barrio
Nutella Cheesecake Empanada | Photo Courtesy of El Barrio
Rainbow Cookie Empanada | Photo Courtesy of El Barrio
Rainbow Cookie Empanada | Photo Courtesy of El Barrio

Claudy’s Kitchen

5981 Broadway, Bronx; 718.884.7378

Located just over the county line in the Bronx, this Michelin Bib Gourmand Award-winning restaurant is the gold standard for those looking for fresh Peruvian grub. Despite having a more-than-impressive selection of “regular” empanadas, the standout option is by far the apple caramel variant. This sweet and gooey empanada is filled with warm, fresh apples and caramel, and is dusted with cinnamon. Pro Tip: For those looking to add a refreshing drink to their tasty desert, be sure to check out the “2 Empanadas and a Beer” special. If you want to be extra festive, we recommend pairing it with the Peruvian Cusquena.

 

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Related: Westchester’s Home-Based Bakers Make the County Sweeter

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