Location: SW 5th and Oak
Hours: Weekdays, lunch
The Story: When I started writing and focusing on street food a few years ago, I distinctly remember eating at a fried pie cart. I had never had a fried pie like that and someone compared it to an empanada. Again, I had never heard of an empanada, but since then have fallen in love with these little hot pockets of happiness. PDX Empanadas has opened on SW Oak between 4th and 5th and offers up Uruguayan street food.
Empanadas trace their origins back to the 1500’s in Galicia and Portugal. A cookbook from the time – Libre del Coch by Ruperto de Nola – has empanadas filled with seafood alongside cuisines from Europe and beyond. The empanadas of the time started out as larger pies which were then cut into pieces to make them portable for the working class. They usually includes tuna, sardines or chorizo which was cooked in tomato, garlic and onion sauces inside the dough. Empanadas were introduced to the South American nation of Uruguay by Spanish and Italian settlers and are made with a diverse list of ingredients both savory and sweet.
At PDX Empanadas, in order to try everything you need to A) get there early and B) return often. Eleven different choices from breakfast to caprese to corn to beef and raisins. Sadly, by the time I arrived after the lunch hour rush, they had sold out of many, but I was still able to get a couple. The beef empanada had ground beef mixed with sweet pepper, tomato, onion, egg and herbs – an excellent salty mixture perfect for a cool day in Portland. The green spinach came with garlic, feta cheese, eggs and herbs. I gotta say, the spinach really blew me away with the hint of garlic with the salt and bitter of the cooked spinach. The crust of the empanada flaked away in my mouth and on my shirt – a buttery salty and enjoyable mess. At $3 a piece – for quick snacks, these empanadas are wonderful.
PDX Empanadas is located in the 5th and Oak lot on Oak street just west of 5th. Alongside the empanadas, they also offer sandwiches. If you’ve had a South American craving of late, you should definitely check this vendor out. Let them know Food Carts Portland sent ya.
- Milanesa Sandwich – $5
- Choripan (sausage) sandwich – $4
- Empanadas – $3-3.50: Pork, Beef + Raisins, Beef, Green Spinach, Garden Veggies, Corn, Eggplant, Breakfast, Vegetarian Breakfast and daily specials