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This small South American joint that got its start as a cart isn't remotely fancy; its narrow storefront space contains just a few worn tables and a glass case filled, oddly, with perfectly folded men's shirts that sell for $15 each. Still, where else in town can you can dress a man and feed him such delicious street snacks as corn cakes swollen with black beans, shredded beef, plantains and cheese? The arepas, empanadas (impossibly puffy and lighter than air) and cachapas (corn pancakes with blackened surfaces paved with white cheese) are just as addictive. Empanada Express Grill has no liquor license, but the fresh fruit juices -- cantaloupe, passion fruit, pineapple, coconut, papaya, guava and mango -- are vast improvements over the sodas in the fridge.
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Empanada Express is faithful to the cooking traditions of Venezuela, the owners' home country, and the arepas are excellent examples of this. Round cornmeal cakes about the diameter of a soda can are studded with kernels of corn and pressed flat, then pan-fried until crispy. They might be coated with melted cheese or used to sandwich filling: piquant shredded chicken, savory black beans, sweet fried plantains that explode out the sides as you wrestle the arepa into your mouth. Empanada... More »
My wife and I just discovered this place today and decided to go for lunch. It is an outstanding restaurant and according to my Venezuela born wife, very authentic. We had several empanadas as well as the tequenos and the hallapa, all were very well prepared and extremely good. The fruit juices are amazing as well. Don't expect anything fancy, it's a true whole in the wall but we will be regulars before long.
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