Oh, Empanadas!

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“Hey, check this out! Alton Brown is in Hawthorne at some Argentinian deli,” Adam called from across the room while flipping channels on the television.

“Grab the car keys!” I replied.

I don’t really need an excuse to drop what I’m doing and head out in search of food. If anything, I need a reason to stay put and not over indulge. But what fun is that, I ask? So with directions in hand and an empty stomach we headed to the city of Hawthorne, just a few miles southeast of LAX. While not the most glamorous part of Los Angeles, Hawthorne and its neighboring cities are filled with small ethnic restaurants serving everything from Peruvian and Salvadorian to Japanese and Eastern European cuisine.

Like most things in Hawthorne and the surrounding neighborhoods, one must hunt to find what they are looking for.  No big parking lots and no flashy signs, just row after row of smog checks, store fronts and courtyard apartment buildings and residential homes lovingly decorated with security gates and iron bars. After checking the street numbers we found Continental Market, located right next to a laundrymat. From the street you’d never know it was a deli and bakery – it appears to be your garden variety Latin grocery store. And even once inside you must navigate through the rows and rows of Latin staples and chips and candy to find the deli counter, but once there, nirvana.

Continental_market

Continental Market offers sliced cheeses and deli meats, just like any other local deli. But perched on top of the counter in a small hot case was our jackpot – Argentine empanadas. Well worth the hunt, they were just as exquisite as anything I tasted in Argentina (minus the high tops unfortunately–see photo). Heaven happens when you take savory fillings like spinach, spicy beef or flavorful stewed chicken and wrap it in pastry dough. And for 99¢ you taste a variety of these perfect little snacks.

Dancing_empanadas

Adam discovered one of his favorites on the menu – Milanesa. In this case it took the form of a milanesa sandwich, a breaded and fried thin cut of meat that is traditionally served on bread with cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. Again, delicious. But my draw dropped and a tear ran down my cheek when I spotted the stacks of one of my favorite things on earth, sandwiches de migas. A sandwich de miga is a very basic Argentine sandwich with basic fillings like ham and cheese, egg, roasted red pepper and butter, the possibilities are endless. The sandwiches feature a crustless edge on white bread–just like a tea sandwich but a bit larger. To me they are the perfect sandwich and I can never turn one down. And when I say I can never turn one down, I found myself eating them last year in Argentina whenever I passed by a bakery. Even if I just crossed the street from another bakery. I’ll never let a good thing pass me by.

Sandwiches_de_miga_empanadas

If you find yourself in Hawthorne and in desperate need of an empanada (even if they do not dance), do stop by Continental. Ciao!

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Continental Gourmet Market
12921 Prairie Avenue
Hawthorne, CA 90250
310-676-5444

Comments

  1. says

    delicious! i’ve never had a sandwich de migas, but it looks delicious! and empanedas! oh my, how i love a good empanada – savory and flaky and gone in about 2 bites, if i’m beling polite.

    tell me, did you ever locate alton brown???

  2. says

    Next time you come up to San Francisco I am taking you for papusas at a place so good I won’t even blog about it. I have yet to discover a really good empanada spot here though.

  3. says

    Oh wow, those looks sooo good! Come across any good Eastern European markets? I heard of Alpine Village in Torrance- have you? I heard it has some great European specialties!

  4. says

    I LOVE empanadas! I have had the Chilean variety, which are stuffed with cheese, tomatoes and herbs. Though not very friendly to a lactose-intolerant like myself, they are well worth the price I pay. :)

  5. says

    I hold the lone empanada fan club card in my household unfortunately.

    The first empanada in the picture looks like he/she has to go to the bathroom!

  6. says

    Over here in South East Asia, they have the same exact looking pastry, just smaller and have different fillings. They’re called ‘epok-epok’ and some call them ‘curry puffs’. Most are deep-fried but the delis have the flaky pastry kind. Unlike empinadas, the filling here is mostly curried potatoes [some places include a small slice of boiled egg], curried chicken potatoes or sardines in tomato sauce. They’re REALLY good! I love these pastries. At one time, I ate these almost every day and put on about 10 lbs. :D And when I was in New Jersey, I hunted high and low for empinadas – found them, and they were GOOOOOD!

  7. says

    It’s common to find Jamaican patties here in NY, which are like empanadas, but with a denser crust. It seems every food culture has a variation of the stuffed pastry, sort of like every culture has a dumpling.

    These look delish and the sandwiches sound amazing–I’m a sucker for anything made with ham. And for 99 cents, I can imagine eating these everyday and gaining 10 pounds myself.

  8. says

    Argggh the dancing Solo Empanadas. One of their shops is almost right across the street from our family apartment in Buenos Aires. When I lived there, I remember them dancing around on the street about once a month or so. At first it was fun but after a while…with their music cranked up and them blocking traffic…….

    Mmmmmm sandwiches de migas. Makes me hungry. I think I’ll go out and buy some tomorrow :)

  9. Virginia says

    Having grown up on homemade empanadas, I’ve got to say that La Nueva Bakery in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY has the best empanadas. Hands down. Next time you are in NY you MUST MUST MUST go there. They are filled with crack disguised as spinach… they also have your traditional beef, chicken, tuna, but the spinach will slay you…. I promise.

    -v
    ps. have you tried toasting a sandwich de miga?

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