Digest Features April 8, 2017

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Where to Celebrate National Empanada Day

By: Jennifer Agress

Empanadas are a Magic City staple, and for good reason—they play to the flavors and customs of Miami’s thriving Latin American community. Coming from Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Chile, Cuba and everywhere in between, these bite-sized, half-moon surprises are wrapped in fried dough and traditionally stuffed with everything from ground beef and chicken, to spinach, guava and cream cheese, ham and more. And here in Miami, we love these savory snacks so much that we give them their own holiday: “National Empanada Day.”

Taking place this Saturday, April 8th, this holiday is one Miamians never miss. So to make sure you take part, head to the restaurants, food counters and bakeries below; they have some of the best empanadas in the city.

Half Moon Empanadas

Named after the shape of—you guessed it—an empanada, Half Moon has a takeout menu of these inventive fried pockets that you won’t find anywhere else. Perfect for take-out, order your choice of made-from-scratch traditional, pepperoni and cheese, bacon cheeseburger, or ham, egg and cheese empanadas. And then order more. Half moon Empanadas has multiple locations throughout Miami.

Moises Bakery

Sitting in North Beach, Moises Bakery leaves nothing to the imagination. Known for its display cases with row after row of South American-style pastries, this is where you’ll find everything from arepas and fresh-baked Cuban bread, to queso fresco tequeños, sugary pastelitos and of course, empanadas. If you don’t know what you want, try more than one—Moises Bakery fries them Venezuelan-style, in a corn flour dough, and stuffs them with piping-hot chicken or beef. Moises Bakery is located at 7310 Collins Avenue.

Las Olas Café

An authentic, cash-only Cuban spot in the middle of Miami Beach, Las Olas Café is where beach-goers will find strong Cuban coffee, fresh-squeezed juices, towering hot plates, and happy locals chatting away. For quick service and a hearty snack, walk up to the takeout window (or as we locals like to call it, the ventanita) and order one of four empanadas: beef, chicken, spinach, or ham and cheese. Las Olas Café is located at 644 6th Street.

El Carajo

For something a little more refined, head to El Carajo—Miami’s own haute restaurant-speakeasy—for a sit-down meal and bespoke wines. Located in the back of a gas station (yes… you read that right), this gem serves up lobster empanadas that seriously step up Miami’s empanada game. Called Empanada de Langosta, this homemade fried pastry is served piping hot, and stuffed with perfectly-tender lobster meat doused in a homemade, spicy sauce. El Carajo is located at 2465 SW 17th Avenue.

Pinecrest Bakery

Started by two Little Havana locals, this 24-hour Cuban bakery has some of the most consistent Cuban coffee, pan con bistec sandwiches, croquetas, pastelitos and yuca papa rellena in town. On top of that, peruse the display case and you’ll find countless empanadas, from traditional beef and chicken fritas, to ham and cheese horneadas, Colombian cheese empanadas, guava camagüeyanos and more. Pinecrest Bakery has multiple locations from Miami Beach to Key Largo. Check them out at


When you think of Latin cuisine in Miami, you think of Calle Ocho—and when you think of Calle Ocho, one restaurant immediately comes to mind: Versailles Restaurant. Don’t let the name fool you; nothing about this place is French (minus the over-the-top, almost cheesy gold-clad décor, that is). For a beef, chicken or ham empanada sure to satisfy your craving, head to the takeout window and chow down. If you know the empanadas alone won’t fill you up, up the ante with a Versailles Combo, which throws in ham and chicken croquettes, yucca fries and a tangy cilantro sauce, too. Versailles Restaurant is located at 3501 SW 8th Street.

Graziano's Market

This long-time Argentinian mainstay has locations all over Miami, but the most popular one is definitely in Coral Gables. And while it’s primarily a steakhouse, its distinctive and flavorful empanadas—which come stuffed with everything from beef, green olives and boiled eggs, to Quebracho Asador chicken and tomato—are not to be missed. Graziano’s Market is located at 2301 Galiano Street.

Estefan Kitchen

Miami’s newest Cuban joint, Estefan Kitchen, is actually a fine-dining restaurant in Miami Design District’s Palm Court. Started by Gloria and Emilio Estefan, the menu includes haute spins on the star duo’s favorite family recipes; like baked Cuban empanadas stuffed with Criollo beef, roasted chicken or pork, and served with the restaurant’s house-made guava BBQ sauce. Estefan Kitchen is located at 140 NE 39 Street.

La Moon Restaurant

Brickell’s most popular late-night spot, the fast-casual La Moon Restaurant, serves up all things Colombian: like arepas, souped-up hot dogs, pinchos, tequeños and more. Order traditional beef-and-potato-filled empanadas, or for something a little different, try those stuffed with cheese. Both are fried to perfection, served piping hot, and pair perfectly with the restaurant’s homemade aji hot sauce. La Moon Restaurant is located at 144 SW 8th Street.

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar

Wynwood isn’t typically where you’d think to go for these Latin American pastries, but when it comes to Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, you do. Adding a haute twist to these otherwise simple, fried concoctions, get one here with ropa vieja, chicken and a side of cilantro crema. Hint: the dish is called Ropa Vieja Empanadas (gasp!), and it’s just as delicious as it sounds. Wynwood Kitchen & Bar is located at 2550 NW 2nd Avenue.

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