While visiting San Francisco, I found my top three distinctive types of scrumptious empanadas. This Latin stuffed pastry nosh is best consumed when filling is fresh, crispy fried or baked, and gets added bonus points for not being greasy. A good empanada is satisfying, and well worth the calories. I highly recommend you any of these three empanadas when in San Francisco.
The Mushroom Empanada by La Mar Cebichería Peruana
La Mar is a seafood Peruvian restaurant located in the Embarcardero. At La Mar, you can find great service, beautifully presented plates, nice ambiance, and excellent empanadas. They offer a four empanada sampler plate including mushroom, corn/veggie, chicken, and beef. My favorite of the four was the empanades de k’apchi, the mushroom empanada containing a balanced blend of flambéed crimini mushrooms, aji amirillo (yellow chile peppers), aji panca (red chile peppers), queso fresco, and huatacay (Peruvian black mint). The delicate medley of ingredients go perfectly with the crispy pastry shell. The veggie empanada was a close runner up filled unique blend of corn, butter and aji amirillo. La Mar has a variety of seating areas and a patio area with water view. Other tasty dishes were the ceviche and desserts.
The Exotic Empanada at Gilberth’s Rotisserie & Grill
For the more daring type, I recommend Gilberth’s Rotisserie & Grill where their menu is described as “Latin Cuisine meets Urban Chic.” Gilbreth’s is located in the Dogpatch area, a mix of industrial and urban residential. We ordered Empanadas de jiaba, Wild Boar empanadas to share. The finely ground meat was packed with flavor. Dipping it in hot sauce added a spicy kick. It went perfectly paired with a glass of Malbec wine. This restaurant is great for small groups or dates that is simple yet sophisticated. They serve other exotic meat dishes including alligator.
The Chicken Empananda at Fresca on Fillmore
This one was truly love at first bite at Fresca a Peruvian gourmet tapas restaurant in Pacific Heights, one of three Frescas in San Francisco (Please note, my recommendation is for the Fillmore location only). We attended a wedding celebration and ordered a chicken empanada appetizer and seafood paella. We expected the paella to be the star course, but to our surprise, the scrumptious shredded stewed chicken with aji amirillo was the winner. The perfectly fried golden empanada wrapper definitely sealed the deal. The pickled onions and verde aioli sauce complemented the empanadas well, but stood well on its own. There was a hard boiled egg as a garnish, though I passed on my half, but did enjoy the olives. It was divine and wished we ordered more. The tasty sangria pairs nicely with the empanadas.