Empanadas: Warm Pockets of Heaven

Where to find the best examples of these tasty, portable treats in Seattle.

With ancient roots winding from the Iberian Peninsula through most of Latin America, these warm and gooey combinations of meat, cheese, veggies and/or fruit in a fried or baked dough pocket have long been favored by laborers, travelers and traders—and now Seattleites—for their tasty portability. 

Maria Luisa Empanadas
La boca, with seared ground beef, onions, peppers, raisins and spices, is the quintessential Argentine empanada. $25 for 12; free delivery in the Seattle area with an order of a dozen or more. Available at the Fremont Sunday Market (year-round) and Queen Anne Farmers Market (Thursdays, May–October). 206.218.9678; marialuisaempanadas.com

La Isla
At this bastion of home-style Puerto Rican cooking, try the fried pernil, a flaky crust stuffed with succulent pulled pork that has been marinated for days and slow-cooked for hours. $4. Ballard, 2320 NW Market St.; 206.789.0516; laislaseattle.com

Pair Rumba’s Caribbean-style baked chorizo empanada with the classic Mojito Criollo No. 1 for a perfect happy-hour nosh and slosh. $5 each or three for $12.50 ($3.50 at happy hour). Capitol Hill, 1112 Pike St.; 206.583.7177; rumbaonpike.com

Pampeana Empanadas
Plumped with a creamy, caramel-like mixture and tender apples seasoned with cinnamon and cloves, dulce de leche empanadas are a sweet spin on tradition. $29.99 for 12; free delivery for orders of two dozen or more in the Seattle metro area. Also available at West Seattle’s Sunday and U District’s Saturday farmers markets. 253.973.6589; pampeanaempanadas.com