Artisan Empanadas in New York City

Nuchas Empanadas

What often happens when I return from a big trip is that I go into food withdrawal. Savory tacos, deep fried green chiles, handsome margaritas ~ this is the kind of cuisine that has lingered on my mind since Albuquerque.

So, after a half day working in NYC yesterday, I made a point of hunting down a substitute for my cravings. I went on a specific quest to find a gourmet empanada like the one I had at El Pinto. Something spicy, moist, hearty and thick.

I stopped at three places: the perfectly positioned food cart Nuchas in Pedestrian Plaza, Times Square, a 1975 landmark take-out counter in Chelsea called Ruben’s Empanadas and the ever-popular Dos Caminos on the corner of 50th and 3rd.

As luck would have it I got to interview the founder of Nuchas, Argentinian-born Ariel Barbouth and the chef of Dos Caminos, Ivy Stark. Unfortunately, no relation that I know of…

At $3 per empanada, I ordered up four meat-filled bargains to split between me and my beau. The order was piping hot and fresh from the oven.

“No lard is ever used in our food preparation” declared Barbouth, “no trans fat and no tallow either.”

As I waited in line a little boy behind me pried his Dad for pizza instead.

Within minutes my order was handed to me in a small lined paper bag. The empanadas were tiny, only two-bites each but sufficient in size for a light snack between meals.

George and I stood in the nexus of the universe noshing to our hearts content – oblivious of the lights, cameras and actions around us.

Barbouth let me in on a secret that more varieties like bean and jambalaya would be appearing in two new locations by next month.

Nuchas passed with flying colors but would Ruben’s and Dos Caminos dare to compare? You’ll have to wait and read the continuation of this blog entry tomorrow.

Nuchas Empanadas