Lito's Empanadas

>> Monday, February 8, 2010

I recently ventured out into the blustery cold and tried this local neighborhood eatery, Lito's Empanadas. Not knowing much about empanadas I knew I would be up for an adventure (they kind of reminded me of big deep fried dumplings or a really awesome hot pocket - so what's not to like?).

Walking into Lito's I was pleasantly surprised at how clean and open the restaurant was. It reminded me of the little shops in New York that are just barely big enough to hold 10 people (this Caracas Arepas) with a counter in the front and clear shot to the kitchen in the back.

After speaking with the kind person taking my order I decided to try three of their most popular items:

  • BBQ Chicken - slow cooked chicken with potatoes
  • Beef - ground beef, olives, raisins, potatoes, tomato, onion
  • Chicken champion - chicken, and cheese, with sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes and onions
In order for me to fairly review this I had do some research about this little treat - I mean sure it tasted good but is that how it's suppose to taste? Empanadas started in the Spain/Portugal region but their influence has spread across Europe and South America. Empanadas come from the Spanish verb empanar meaning "to wrap" so an empanda is a filling wrapped in bread or dough (look at us learning!) Each region has their own personalized fillings and essentially use the dough and technique as a blank canvas.The empandas I had were from the Colombian, and feature the staples of ground beef, shredded chicken and potatoes.

Through my learnings a empanada should have a light, flaky crust and should proportionate to the fillings. Lito's did just this. The BBQ chicken was very sweet and tangy and when combine with the Lito's homemade hot sauce it was as an amazing combination (I love spicy and sweet!). I will have to say that the beef was the least favorite of the three. I felt like the filling kept falling out and it was too much beef to the other components. Don't get me wrong - it was good and I ate it, I think I would have liked a little more potato and onion. Finally, the champion chicken, and what a champion it was. The cheese, the mushrooms, the tomatoes, all of it just blended so well leaving my tummy so full and happy.

Lito's makes all of their empanadas daily so you know you are getting a top quality product. Even better - one empanada will run you about $2.50, I mean, can you beat that? I ordered three and still had left overs for a little snack. If you are ever in the Lincoln Park area I would definitely suggest you check it out.

Lito's Empanada
2566 N. Clark
Chicago, IL 60614



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