One Empanada to Rule Them All: Where to Find Empanadas de Pabellon

PabellonLaLatina.jpg
Courtesy of La Latina
The empanada de pabellon from La Latina in midtown.
Argentines, Cubans, and Colombians, please accept my apologies. Your empanadas pale in comparison to Venezuela's beef-, bean-, and sweet-plantain-filled empanadas de pabellón.

Yes, your empanadas are delicious. Their flaky crusts, either baked or fried, are tantalizing. The savory fillings -- from Cuban picadillo to the cream, chicken, and walnuts in Argentine chicken potpies -- just don't match the addictive, perfect interplay of ingredients inside the pabellón.

See also: National Ice Cream Month: Mantecado, Mamey, and Azucar's Miami Flavors

The empanada is an offshoot of a plated dish of a similar name: pabellón criollo. It is by no means a groundbreaking invention. Most Caribbean and South American countries and cultures have their own version of salty, fatty shredded beef, starchy white rice, black beans, and plantains.

Yet when all of those ingredients are folded into a sweet cornmeal crust and fried until golden, something magical happens. Perhaps it's the shell, which when fried properly is crisp yet pleasantly mushy, like a shallow dish of buttery grits. It might be the surprise of biting into a sweet plantain, when your skull is already tingling after two bites of the savory beef.

Empanadas de pabellón can be a tough find in Miami. Venezuelan bakeries, outside of Doral, aren't quite as plentiful as their Cuban counterparts. Some offer them only on weekends. Others, like Sandwi2go on Coral Way, list them on menus but don't stock them. You'll need to call ahead.

Here are few choices worth hunting out:

La Latina
Midtown's La Latina ($3.95) offers tightly packed, nuclear-hot pockets of delight. The crusts are magnificent -- crisp and chewy with an almost-bread-like consistency. The beef is tender, the beans have just the right amount of salt, and it's hard to order just one.

PabellonCrema.jpg
Photo by Zachary Fagenson
Empanada de pabellón from La Crema de las Empanadas.
La Crema de Las Empanadas
La Crema de Las Empanadas in Doral takes a different spin. Its mini football-shaped empanadas ($3.95) have the beef and beans, but they replace the plantain with Guayanés cheese. It's salty and just a touch sweet. When warmed, its consistency shifts from that of loose feta to gooey mozzarella.

Location Info

La Latina

3509 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

Moises Bakery Of Miami

7310 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

La Crema De Las Empanadas

10674 SW 24th St., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

Charlotte Bakery

1499 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
60 comments
Jimmy Isaac Gonzalez
Jimmy Isaac Gonzalez

I see what you mean. Usually with other empanadas it's ground beef. Venezuelan empanadas use shredded and are meatier

Grace Della
Grace Della

Where can I get a Bolivian empanada?

Dayana Perez
Dayana Perez

Want to try a real good "empanada"- you have to try a Bolivian Salteña. Never dry, always juicy.

Viviana Otero
Viviana Otero

NO WAY!!!!!!!! THE CHILEAN ONE IS THE BEST!!! They are oven-baked not fried!!!!

Virginia Campbell-Castro
Virginia Campbell-Castro

Yea that's your opinion... I love Chilean,Argentina,Colombian I don't discriminate as long as it's good

Martin Vera
Martin Vera

As a Colombia kid. I'll let my taste buds enjoy. SOS Venezuela Peace Paz :-)

Juan-Eduardo Guilletine
Juan-Eduardo Guilletine

No mystery its day old ropa vieja in the best case scenario. I make random empanadas with lefovers . I sure thats the case everywhere

Matt Reisman
Matt Reisman

Ok In this order. Hot Pockets > Jamaican Beef Patties > Empanadas They all have some type of mystery meat.

Lily Estay
Lily Estay

Cubans can stick to their tostones lol

johnmlinn
johnmlinn

The best empanadas are at Manny's Bakery in Coral Springs, an Argentinian/Peruvian joint. Nothing comes close.

Vita Vitalis
Vita Vitalis

Ugh no Cuban empanadas are the best... I love Venezuelan empanadas at doggis but most of them are too greasy. I would rank 1. Cuban 2. Argentinian 3. Toss up with Colombian & Venezuelan

emosewa321
emosewa321

It may not be in Miami, but Antojitos Venezolanos in Hollywood, at the Yellow Green Farmers Market has some damn delicious Pabellon empanadas

Fenris Wolf
Fenris Wolf

Wrong. The Argentinian ones are. End of story.

Fab Plck
Fab Plck

Nothing compares to an empanada de pabellon. If you haven't tried them get to it and then have a seat...

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

I also noticed that the reporter of this article is "Zachary Fagenson" so how the hell would a GRINGO know which one is the best...smh

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

hey new times, the COLOMBIAN empanada is the BEST

Joseph Mazon
Joseph Mazon

Matter of opinion, Me, I prefer Argentinian empanadas to all others.

Carlos A Salazar
Carlos A Salazar

Everyone hating in 3..2...1... I've tried them all and it's not cuz I'm Venezuelan. ..but they're just on a different level. If you haven't tried them you can't say shit haha

Alex Howard
Alex Howard

La Candelaria bakery on bird and 128 is the best empanada by far

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