Savory pastries – and some sweet ones – to go at Ana’s Killer Empanadas in Delray Beach 

Ana’s Empanadas in located in a strip center on Congress Avenue.

A takeout shop in a Congress Avenue strip center offers traditional stuffed pastries and numerous variations of the Latin American meat pocket.

By Alan J. Wax

I was a bachelor for an evening. My wife was out with friends, meaning I could dine on something she wouldn’t ordinarily eat. What would it be?

Pizza was a thought, but as much as I love pizza, it wasn’t exciting. Neither was sushi or Sichuan Chinese. 

But what about empanadas?  I realized I hadn’t had one of those golden-crusted savory meat pockets since a quick lunch a few months ago at the Barcelona, Spain airport.

An empanada could, indeed, satisfy my craving.

Empanada literally means “coated in bread.” Basically, an empanada is a savory filling encased in dough. They’re pretty common in Latin countries, but Argentina is internationally renowned for its take on these pastries. Savory empanadas tend to be more common with fillings that range from beef, to chicken, ham, tuna, cheese, and spinach. It’s also common to find combinations of ingredients, like jamón y queso in an empanada.

Two empanada takeout shops weren’t too distant and had opened in Delray Beach within the past year. Alas, one closed for the day at 3 p.m.  The other, Ana’s Killer Empanadas was on the east side of Congress Avenue opposite the Pines adult community, less than a mile north of Lake Ida Road in Delray Beach. It was open until 7 p.m.  It being 6:15 I hurried there.

Empanadas on display, ready to go.

Chicken, beer and apple empanadas with chimichurri sauce and rice and beans sides.

Arriving at Ana’s, located in a strip center shared with Rogie’s Perogies, Proper Ice Cream, In Good Taste Gourmet Cafe, and L’atelier Des Pains French Artisan Bakery, I stepped inside.

There’s not much to see. It’s a basic takeout setting. Some walls are white, the others have grey faux wood planking. There’s a window into the kitchen that gives customers a peek at the behind-the-scenes operation that surrounds an enormous prep table.

You order at the counter, which is fronted by a table for two. To the left, there’s a glass warming case, mostly empty at the time of my evening arrival, and to the right, a freezer box filled with take-and-bake empanadas and a beverage refrigerator, whose selection includes Jarito sodas. 

There are the classic pastries, Argentinian-style beef, pollo gordito (chubby chicken) and vegan veggie (made with vegan shortening). Ana’s also serves specialty empanadas such as meatball parm, with a homemade marinara sauce; pulled southern-style barbecued beef brisket; ham and cheese croquette with a parmesan-crusted dough; Buffalo chicken; a Cuban sandwich style, made of roast pork and the usual Cuban fixings; and curry coconut chicken, with a savory chicken blend, mild curry and coconut milk baked in a toasted coconut-crust.

The young man behind the counter said I could have something from what remained in the warming case, or, if I desired to wait 15 minutes, I could order what I wanted. It’s advisable to order in advance online and not wait, especially at dinner time.

At this first visit, I opted for a pollo gordito, a chicken empanada, from the case, and a made-to-order beef empanada along with sides of cilantro rice ($1.79) and black beans ($1.79) as a well as a mini-apple dessert empanada ($1.39).

The pastries, each about 5 inches across, are indeed flaky.

The chicken ($4.95), perhaps because of time spent in the warming case, was dry, despite a savory blend of chicken and spices and a quick warmup in my kitchen microwave. The spicing was mild and it benefitted from a dose of the free, accompanying chimichurri sauce, which is similar to pesto, but is made from fresh parsley, oregano, garlic, oil and vinegar, and a little bit of chili pepper.

My made-to-order beef empanada ($4.95), was still warm from the oven when I got home. Filled with ground beef blended with parsley, onion, garlic, and other “secret”spices along with Malbec wine, the mixture appeared to have no visible fairly standard ingredients, such as chopped eggs and raisins, and only a couple of bites of green olives. The meat was mildly spicy and, this, too, was rescued by the chimichurri sauce.

The side dishes, in Dixie Cup-sized plastic foam containers, were forgettable. A few microscopic bits of cilantro made their appearance among the dry grains of white rice and the black beans, while tasty, were mildly flavored.

The dessert empanada, essentially a mini-apple pie at 2-1/2 inches across, didn’t leave much of an impression, gone in just two bites.

Argentine-style eef empanada.

A second visit, this time at lunchtime for a couple of the specialty varieties, proved more successful.

The brisket empanada ($5.29) was a welcome surprise featuring dry-rubbed, slow-cooked beef in a honey-sweetened barbecue sauce. The dough was dusted with a crunchy bacon topping. The meat was tender and the sauce tangy.

Barbecue brisket empanada.

A meatball parmesan empanada ($5.29) also was tasty and could’ve come from any Italian kitchen. Alas, there was none of the promised marina dipping sauce.

Behind Ana’s Killer Empanadas are food industry veterans John and Ana Brice, who recently opened a second outlet in West Palm Beach. The couple moved to West Palm Beach from Los Angeles in 2020..

Ana, who developed her own recipes, was born in Honduras, raised in Belize and emigrated to the United States in 2014. In Los Angeles, she ran a high-end catering business that specialized in Kosher Persian cuisine,

Meanwhile, John was a restaurant consultant in Los Angeles and previously owned McDonald’s franchises in New York.

The Brices’ offerings represent a welcome change from the usual takeout fare, while their mild spicing helps to broaden the appeal of their pastries. The house chimichurri sauce, however, is a winner and worth buying by the jar. Just get there well before they close in the evening.

Ana’s Killer Empanadas

1445 N. Congress, Delray Beach, FL 33445 

(561) 865=7357

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