When hearing the word “empanada,” many people immediately think of Argentina. The truth is, the type and taste of empanada depends on where you are in the country. Because of the different climates and geographies throughout Argentina, the best ingredients to cook with vary.
On a recent trip to Buenos Aires, I was sitting with a group of locals asking them about where to get the best empanada. “The north,” they replied in unison.
I sulked. They didn’t mean the northern area of the city, they meant the north of the country. Cities like Salta, Tucuman, Santiago del Estero and Jujuy are where natives agree the best empanadas are. Moreover, Mendoza, Cordoba and Rosario also have delicious empanadas, varying a bit from place to place. For example:
- In Mendoza, traditional empanadas use a filling of beef, onion, egg and sometimes olives or cheese.
- In Salta, potatoes, beef, chicken and sometimes even llama meat is used for the dish.
- In Cordoba, empanadas are sweet, with white sugar, potatoes, olives and meat.
- In Tucuman, the dish is cooked in a clay oven with lemon juice. Traditionally, the empanadas have beef, chicken and tripe; however, newer varieties also include cheese and onion.
- In Jujuy, the addition of peas, pepper and onion give the meal a unique spice.
If you have your heart set on visiting Buenos Aires, but also want to try some amazing empanadas, don’t fret. There are two great restaurants, both located in Recoleta near Rodriguez Peña and Santa Fe streets, that was recommended to me by various locals – and for good reason. First there is Cumana, an upbeat venue that uses an adobe oven to create traditional dishes. The other is La Cholita, a rustic venue, which gives generous helpings for a good price.
Empanadas. Photo courtesy of BenjaminThompson.