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Notes From the Field: DC Empanadas

Our critics give new restaurants a quick look and report back with their first impressions. In honor of our Food Truck Fight, we checked out a mobile vendor.

Standing in line at this baby-blue truck, I wondered how customers in front of me were ordering, paying, and walking away with their lunch in less than 90 seconds. I could see a guy working a pair of fryers—surely it takes more than a flash dunk to cook an empanada, a handheld South American half-moon savory pastry. When I got to the front, I got my answer: The empanadas ($3.50 each, 3 for $9) are fried in batches and kept in a warming booth. I'm wary of those little glass boxes—they're too often filled with soggy pizza at sports stadiums, and there was no way the empanadas could retain that crispy exterior I knew when eating them nearly everyday while studying abroad in Chile. But the outside crust was still crackly, and the filling was also piping hot. However, the empanadas could have benefited from some extra time in the fryer—under the wrapper's crispy exterior was a layer of still-uncooked dough.

The "Badass" version—Buffalo chicken with blue cheese—was the best of the three I tried. Wildly nontraditional, yes, but still delicious in its own right. It took me a few bites, but I ended up with an affinity for the spinach-and-feta filling of the "El Greco." A pocket of rice and shredded beef was too dry and boring to hold my attention. It only left me more space for the excellent dessert: two thin chocolate cookies sandwiched together with peanut-butter cream.


Food Truck Fight

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