My love affair with empanadas doesn’t go back very far, but when I first had them, it was forever. My preference is for corn flour empanadas, and I opt for the more traditional ones rather than concoctions like pizza empanada. I was excited to see that Raleigh, NC, got an empanada bar, so I had to try it. Calavela Empanada is in a trendy neighborhood near City Market in downtown Raleigh, and it also has a bar for the night crowd. Downtown Raleigh tends to have a young professional crowd, and that’s who patronized this restaurant when I visited.
I wound up getting the Piggly Wiggly since I was in North Carolina–it’s a pulled pork empanada and the holy frijoles with black beans, sweet potato and Oaxacan cheese.
Both of these lacked flavor, and the dough was more of a pie pastry than what I’m used to for empanada dough.
My friend got the champ, which is a mushroom empanada and poblano loco with poblano peppers. She felt the same way about hers as I did. On the flip side, these are only $3 a pop, so this is the cheapest option for a night out in downtown Raleigh.
Guasaca in West Raleigh is a fast food restaurant serving arepas. Arepas are Venezuelan breads made from corn flour. I’ve had them in the city, but I must admit I was not a huge fan. What’s cool here is that you can order a signature arepa or build your own. I got an avocado chicken arepa and a tilapia one with baked plantains and caramelized onions. I also got red sauce and cilantro sauce on the side. These were pretty yummy, although messy because the bread is not a pocket so it doesn’t hold the ingredients.