Empanadas are one of the ultimate grab ‘n’ go meals – no utensils required. However, they are just one option in a world full of hot pockets. Get your hands on these other delicious options from around the globe at these local eateries.
Unless you follow the instructions carefully, these can be a messy proposition. Start by swaddling the salteña in a napkin, so only half of the plump pastry is exposed. Shake it up to ensure the contents are well mixed and evenly distributed. Carefully bite off the top. And then carefully slurp the soupy center and nibble the doughy sides. The meats and sauce (sometimes mild, sometimes wild) are mixed with add-ons such as hard-boiled eggs, olives, raisins, and potatoes. With advance notice, top-notch salteñas can be purchased from Creative Catering DC, who make them pocketed with beef, chicken, or vegetables.
El Salvadoran pupusas
To create one of these pancake shaped pastries, a pile of filling is placed at the center of circle of dough made from maize flour. The edges are collapsed over the core and it’s all flattened out into a smooth circle. They’re griddled for a couple of minutes per side – which often causes the fillings to ooze out slightly – until they’re speckled with splotches of char. Usually they’re served with curtido, a spicy slaw made from chopped cabbage, onions, and carrots, as well as tomato salsa. Try them at La Casita Pupuseria & Market in Silver Spring, which serves plenty of meaty options, as well as creative vegetarian choices, including one with loroco flower buds.
These island favorites have a striking yellowy crust (courtesy of turmeric or egg yolks) that’s so flakey it seems to melt in your mouth. The half-moons usually contain ground beef accented with curry, though they can just as easily contain another protein, seafood, or vegetables. Eat them plain or slather them with hot sauce (those made with habanero peppers are the best compliment). Negril in Northwest, DC offers some of the best patties in the area; both the beef and the curried chicken versions are worth your time.
The D-shaped golden pastry, its curving side crimped together, traditionally holds meat and potatoes. Pure Pasty Co. in Vienna offers a classic beef version, however it’s worth it to try those that push the envelope. One standout is stuffed with cumin and coriander spiced lamb, chickpeas, raisins, and cherries, while another is a play on chicken cordon bleu.