Empanada mission success @ La Chilenita

Most of the time when I crave something random, it turns out to be of the “things stuffed in things” form.  Promises of crusts, and goo, and innards, and surprises, and – if you’re lucky – some kind of piquant relish or sauce that simply *must* go alongside.  Some heroes of the form:  samosas, pupusas, raviolis, spring/summer rolls, pizza pockets, mantou, soup dumplings, dim sum, vine leaves, pierogies, steamed pork buns, stuffed peppers, truffles, donuts, daifuku, mamoul, eclairs  (and we’re getting into fictional and imagined things here…. ) jellybombs, ricotta pops, peanut butter plums, pie dough filled with confit pineapple and sage, pepperpots, NOMclouds, poppypops, cheesewooshers, beetlebuggies, panko-crusted chocolate chiles, umblewubs, frosting melts, 1001 bottles of beer in 1, the key to the middle of the cherry, sugarnuts, fried water, cardamom crispies, cereal milk caviar, apples filled with calvados, and um.  Hey do, you remember those Gushers candies?

Ahem, sorry about that.  Now, what was I talking about again?  Oh right!  Filled stuff!  And how I was craving it.  Maaaaan, ever since I tried Le Chilenita’s food back when being vegan I’ve been intending to go back and sample what they’re really known for – the warm little doughbabies of melty salty awesome, ie, empanadas.  And while I think I might even still prefer the burrito here (!), these are some seriously good nommables, available for very cheap.

Cloudy and I split a neat 6 for 16$, in order to sample much of the menu.  Half meats and half veggie, because amazingly, Le Chilenita not only offers a wide vegetarian selection, but some of it is assured vegan.  I say again, amazing.  Here’s what we got:

Le Chilenita (namesake dish, very traditional), with beef, onions, black olives and sliced egg. (M)

This was a good solid hitter, nicely spiced, straight up Beef-in-Dough kinda food (which I love), and peppered with interesting bits of egg and things.  Succulent even, although really, all of the varieties were!  I guess I wondered where the raisins were (?) in this traditional style “de Pino”, but it’s still a great gut-filler and obviously house made and fresh and of course, warm and comfy.

Epinards, with ricotta and feta (V)

Very spinachy, and lovely and creamy from the ricotta!  One of my favourites of the vegetarian options.  I could dunk this in roasted tomato sauce all day and enjoy mid-september in dappled sunlight doing that.  :P

Thon, with tomatos and onions (M)

I was wary of ordering this without double-checking it’s sources – fears of canned tuna, dry and greased up with who-knows-what, flecked with undersoft vegetables freckles… yeah, ew!  Avoid.  BUT!  I asked, and this is not canned tuna at all, not they cook this in house, and it shows – there is real texture and meaty tuna goodness in every bite.  It’s absolutely luscious, not fishy in the slightest and perked up just enough with the simple bits of tomato and onion – egads this is good stuff!

La Mediterraneanne, with eggplant, red peppers, olives and mushrooms (V)

Alas, there was one less-than delicious concoction in the bunch.  Oh, it’s all right, and if you’re vegan / avoiding meat and dairy, it’s great to have something like this to order.  But, despite being filled with such umami-having vegetables, there’s something… missing.  Maybe some chili-spice, maybe some roasted flavours, sundried tomatoes, I dunno.  I’ve had their vegan burrito and it rocked my socks, so I know they can do it.  Anyway, this basically just tastes some nice juicy veggies in a crust.

L’Italiana with spizy chorizo, tomato sauce and (unspecified) cheese (M)

Opposite of boring:  spicy sausage!   Mmmmmm not even slightly Chilean at all, but oh-so good.  Actually on the dryer side, not too saucy, so the chewiness of the sausage is gnawingly apparent.  I would re-order this in a second.

La Napolitana, with artichokes, green olives, tomatoes, feta and mozarella (V)

A resounding vegetarian win!  It sounds like the ingredients could come off too strong, but it’s just punchy enough yet still sweet from the artichokes, just incredibly flavourful and easy to eat.  Would love this with a fruity smoothie, but maybe I’m weird.  Order it at your own pleasure!

So that’s about it, and I’ll honourably mention the complementary and house-made hot sauce that they dropped into our bag.  We didn’t stick around to eat at the resto, despite a nice enough atmosphere, but brought the warm goodies to the park to eat.

I guess I have one caveat about the empanadas, and that’s the sheer quantity of dough involved in eating 3 in one sitting (there is no picture of the dough-bones, but let me assure you the pile existed).  I could have liked more filling.  But I think if you just ordered 1 or 2 like a regular person you’d be more than happy to munch up as much delicious crust as you could get away with (it IS really fantastic crust).  And the price and speed are very right.  They also have a very extensive menu, and I could see sitting down for a real meal here one night.

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