We really like empanadas. How can you not like deep-fried dough stuffed with different types of goodies?
La Sonrisa Empanadas have been around for a while, but mostly at the various outdoor urban markets around town. We tried them a couple of years ago at the Columbus Circle Holiday Market. Now they have a good-looking new cart that parks weekdays on 50th St between 6th & 7th Ave. There are two other locations as well.
6 types of empanadas are $3.75 each except blue crab, which are $5. You can see the menu choices here and here. We ordered the classic ground beef empanada, a coconut curry chicken one, and a mushroom empanada. For the mathematically-challenged, that’s $11.25 in total. They also offer spicy mayo and hot sauce on the side, which we gladly accepted.
The first bite was into the ground beef empanada, a South American classic. The beef was lightly spiced with sofrito and pieces of carrot in the beef. The menu said peas were included, but we saw no evidence of them. The beef was a touch on the boring side, but a dash of hot sauce picked it right up. We were a little disappointed there were no raisins mixed into the filling, which is common in a ground beef empanadas.
In our opinion, the coconut curry chicken was much more interesting. Shredded chicken was cooked with Caribbean curry and sweetened coconut milk. The empanada was jam-packed full of shredded chicken, and the flavors were excellent. We suggest not putting any side sauces on the coconut curry chicken empanada, our top pick of the three we tried.
The mushroom empanada is a good choice for vegetarians, and they also have a cheese empanada for those eschewing meat. This empanada was stuffed with mushrooms cooked in garlic butter and spices. Make sure you like mushrooms before ordering this empanada because these were strongly-flavored mushrooms.
The dough on each of the empanadas was tasty and not overly greasy. You can’t totally avoid oil with empanadas unless you bake them, but La Sonrisa’s empanadas did not have too much oil.
With six different types of empanadas to choose from, La Sonrisa Empanadas is a good choice for lunch. They aren’t cheap, although you can get away with two for $7.50, and they are good. Personally, we need three for lunch.
You can find La Sonrisa Empanadas at two other locations in Manhattan, plus occasional pop-ups at different seasonal markets. The best way to locate them is on Twitter here, Facebook here, and their website is here.