Arguably one of the best things about travelling is sampling the national culinary delicacies that each place has on offer, and boy did Argentina have some highlights! From legendary asado BBQs to the delightfully simple empanada, you’ll have to excuse us as we indulge in one of our favourite culinary memories of our travels to date!
Arriving in Salta, Northern Argentina for a few days, we’d heard of a place called Patio de la Empanadas, a square surrounded by different stalls offering various versions of the empanada: deep fried, oven baked, some with chicken, some with beef, some spicy, some sweet with raisins. The place sounded incredible and we decided to check it out.
Navigating through the streets of Salta in the sweltering heat, we finally stumbled upon the unassuming entrance to the Plaza and entered empanada heaven.
Entering the plaza from the bright sun, our eyes struggled to adjust to the darker space as we were set upon by various eager stall owners all keen for us to try their pastry offerings. “Aqui senor!” the various ladies barked as we struggled to work out where to sit and who to eat with. A forest of multi-coloured parasols and chairs lay in front of us, and with absolutely nothing to help guide our decision, we sat down on a red table, much to the delight of the stall owner and displeasure of all the others!
A simple menu was hastily slapped on the table, with various interesting combinations of meat and pastry: chicken, beef, spicy beef and vegetable all feature, and you could have them oven baked or deep fried. There seemed to be only one real option for us, try them all!
What makes empanadas here so good is the variety of fillings that go in them, with the main filling complimented with onions, chopped eggs, various spices, sometimes raisins and chilli to give you a surprise every time you have one!
Despite Laura’s firm view that a bit of salad would go down nicely with them, we finished off our pile of empanadas with earnest! Time for a second pile of our favourites, the spicy beef and chicken options. As we waited for our food to come, we noticed the plaza was now full of locals lunching on some of the best food in Argentina, ceremoniously ripping the empanadas in half, dipping them in the spicy salsa sauce and devouring them with ease. All washed down with the popular South American tradition of a two litre bottle of soda or beer on the table.
The place was buzzing, and we watched with intrigue as our stall member delicately prepared the next batch of empanadas on a table nearby, mixing a huge bowl of filling and stuffing each pastry circle full before wrapping it up and sending it off to the oven or pan!
The patio was a great experience, and after finally finishing our second pile (yes pile) of empanadas, it was time for us to stumble back into the sizzling heat of Salta and make our way home for a siesta. Having eaten many empanadas in our time in Argentina, Salta provided us with the spiciest example of the great food of Argentina!