Eating Adventures

Awesome Argentine empanadas are coming from a 16th Street Mall food cart

When news came down that an empanada vendor had set up a cart on the 16th Street Mall, I leapt from my desk chair and barreled toward the door. Lay off me, I'm starving.

Starving, at least, for empanadas, which are magical little pockets of golden dough filled with meats and cheeses and vegetables. They're cheap and satiating, best washed down with an ice cold bottle of terrible beer, like Quilmes, the Argentine favorite.

Now they are here-- in street food form.

Mario Krauss, a native of Argentina and a former tile-layer, opened his empanada cart on the corner of 16th and Curtis about a month ago. His cart is called Empanadas Argentinas, and Krauss insists that he's a one-man show.

That one-man show is making awesome authentic empanadas. They're the baked variety (as opposed to the more-common-to-the-States fried version), and he imports his dough from Argentina by way of Miami, giving it the exact flakiness found in the Southern Hemisphere.

He serves just four classic flavors, baked in his oven right on the street: chicken, spinach, ham and cheese and ground beef, in which he mixes green olives just like his Buenos Aires counterparts. Here's hoping that once he works out the angles of street vending, he branches out into other varieties like steak and corn.

Krauss has no website yet -- he says he's working on it -- but he's at his spot on 16th and Curtis five days a week, from 10 a.m. until the food runs out, which is usually around 3:30 p.m. Empanadas are $2 each, or three for $5. And no Quilmes, but a Coke (or, if you want to drink like the weight-obsessed Argentines, a DIET Coke) will do.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk