A one week vacation in NYC this summer and I literally loved every single second of it. I had a very difficult time coming back from this trip for some reason. Not sure if it was because I had a ton of fun seeing friends and family and doing whatever I wanted or the fact that NYC is a vegetarian food haven and there are way too many options. Who knows, but I was really sad to come home this time. In the end, it was probably for the best, especially for my credit card (and not to mention my stomach…eating out every meal for a week can be a bit much)!
The latest restaurant discovery I completely owe to my friend Nisha. We had gone out on a Tuesday night to this very cool lounge/bar called The Hudson Terrace. It was a huge spot that had an open rooftop and beautiful views of the Hudson River and New Jersey (are views of New Jersey considered beautiful???? ha ha). What started out as a low-key Tuesday evening and a seemingly chill lounge, became an unexpected late night where this place instantaneously turned into a club. I’m talking 0 to 60 – cool lounge to bumping, loud, flashing colored lights with fog machine club. Huh? I was so confused how the place transformed so quickly and out of no where. Luckily the majority of our time there was in the lounge phase and we quickly bolted when it converted to a club.
Since it was already 11:30pm and none of us had eaten dinner, Nisha pointed us in the direction of Empanada Mama in the area of Hell’s Kitchen (walking distance from Hudson Terrace). I should never be surprised that something is jam-packed at 11:30pm on a Tuesday night in NYC, yet here I was…blown away again, especially since we had to wait to be seated. Who are all these people eating at nearly midnight? I’m only here because I am on vacation so I have an excuse! Anyways, Nisha had been here before so she gave her suggestions on some of the veggie options to choose from. I ended up picking these empanadas: the corn-masa broccoli and cheese one, a baked mushroom and onion one and Nisha and I shared the USA dessert one (apples and cinnamon).
Over the course of the one hour we were there, I think I told Nisha no less than 37 times how much I loved this place and how I was totally going to write about it! These were some of the best empanadas I had ever had (so much so that I even went back to Empanada Mama for lunch the next day)! Staying true to what I write about (only things that “knock my socks off”) I will forgo writing about the mushroom and onion empanada, which I thought was just ok. What I did love were the broccoli and cheese empanada and the USA empanada. And I really liked how they bring you each empanada in a little white bag with the name of the empanada stamped on the outside, so you can tell which is which. A green and red salsa is also served on the side (not pictured here).
If you go the savory empanada route, you MUST order the chimichurri sauce on the side. This sauce is key! The chimichurri sauce is packed with so much flavor and is so good that I’m not even sure how much I would have absolutely loved the broccoli and cheese empanada by itself. The combination of the two is what is amazing. The empanada has a great, crisp, corn flour outer shell and is filled with an oozing broccoli and cheese mixture that isn’t too overpowered by the broccoli. The chimichurri sauce has a punch of garlic and cilantro flavor packed into each bite. I also added a little of the green salsa they served which added some more great flavor and a touch of tanginess (I wasn’t a fan of the red salsa since it had too much vinegar in it).
But the true winner of this place is the USA apple cinnamon empanada. What is so fabulous about this empanada is that the apple cinnamon mixture is not too sweet and is extremely flavorful (I’m guessing a lot of butter might be involved here, but no need to think about that). It’s kind of like the best apple pie you have ever had, but in a hot, little, hand-held pocket of goodiness. What I found funny, was when I was about to take my first bite I really expected this to taste like the McDonald’s apple pie (it’s pretty much the same concept). But Empanada Mama’s was hands down in a league of its own. An analogy would be like a car comparison. How do you compare a Kia to a Bentley??? You just don’t!! Same thing here.
One last thing. There is an option to get the dessert empanadas with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, whip cream and chocolate and caramel sauce. Ohhhhh, I totally missed out on that. Next time! I’m pretty sure that combo would be unbelievable with the warm apples and cinnamon and flaky crust with cool ice cream. What do you think?