Best of Denver

The Ten Best Empanadas in Denver

Maria Empanada is the promised land of empanadas in Denver.
Maria Empanada is the promised land of empanadas in Denver. Westword

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click to enlarge Honduras Breeze calls empanadas pastelitos. - MARK ANTONATION
Honduras Breeze calls empanadas pastelitos.
Mark Antonation
Honduras Breeze
1443 Chester Street, Aurora

The empanadas in Honduras are called pastelitos; they're crunchy pockets made with corn masa that make for a great starter sided with a cold beer. The filling is nothing more than lightly seasoned ground beef and onion, so the crackly, corn-flavored shell does most of the work. Hit them with a few drops of hot sauce or fish some housemade pickled onions from the jar at your table to add a zesty kick.

click to enlarge La Chiva's corn empanadas are light and crisp. - MARK ANTONATION
La Chiva's corn empanadas are light and crisp.
Mark Antonation
La Chiva
1417 South Broadway

What's hotter than a handheld empanada? A crispy Colombian empanada straight out of the fryer at La Chiva. Chef/owner Jorge Aguirre makes his crispy shells from fresh corn and stuffs them with beef, chicken, pork, cheese or a hearty veggie mix. The fresh corn flavor adds a savory-sweet component not found in most other empanadas.

click to enlarge Lazo Empanadas is the streamlined version of Rincon Argentino. - MARK ANTONATION
Lazo Empanadas is the streamlined version of Rincon Argentino.
Mark Antonation
Lazo Empanadas/Rincon Argentino
1319 22nd Street, 303-296-6710
2525 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder, 303-442-4133

Rincon Argentino has been going strong in Boulder for more than five years, serving a wide variety of empanadas in the style of Bueno Aires cafes; the various shapes and crimpings serve as outward signs of the fillings inside, a wide variety. Lazo, which opened in the Ballpark neighborhood last year, is a more streamlined version, with a pared-down menu of tender, flaky empanadas.

Maria Empanada
Three locations

Lorena Cantarovici has turned Argentinian empanadas into a successful and growing business, moving her tiny bakery to a sunny and spacious cafe on South Broadway in 2014 before adding outposts in the Denver Tech Center and Stanley Marketplace. The variety of shapes and fillings is almost overwhelming, from Italian-inspired Caprese empanadas to dessert versions that are like perfect little bites of pie. Espresso drinks and South American red wines add to the pure pleasure of a stop at any of the three locations.

click to enlarge This is RiNo's number-one stop for empanadas. - DANIELLE LIRETTE
This is RiNo's number-one stop for empanadas.
Danielle Lirette
Work & Class
2500 Larimer Street

Chef Dana Rodriguez makes Mexican empanadas using blue-corn masa, giving the shell an almost purple hue and an earthy flavor. The filling is a blend of stretchy Oaxacan cheese, squash and zucchini, for a light bite enhanced by a luscious smoked tomato sauce. They're hard to beat for a fried snack that doesn't feel greasy or heavy.

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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation