Friday, March 19, 2010

Casa de la Empanadas

Usually my restaurant reviews are about moderately good to excellent restaurants. Well, I’m gonna shake things up a bit and tell you about a restaurant I would completely recommend against to anyone. We were up at Ernie’s and driving down to my place and decided to stop into one of the neighborhood joints for some dinner. There are a lot of restaurants between our places that look interesting.

We went to Casa de la empanadas, a small Chilean restaurant owned by a family who immigrated here maybe 10 years ago. We were seated by the owner and served by the owner’s mother-in-law.

Ernie had the empanadas to start. It was a pretty large empanada stuffed with ground beef and onions. Glutoids must avoid as the exterior of the empanada is made with flour. As an appetizer, you’re served homemade bread (made by mother-in-law) with salsa. I hear the bread was pretty good, tasted homemade but much better with the salsa piled on top.

As entrees, we asked the owner for recommendations and ended up with the Pastel de Choclo and the Paella. I have to say, neither of these were any good. The Pastel de Chocolo is like a little pot pie with chicken, olives and a few other surprises topped with a corn meal that was so thick and heavy that we probably gained a pound from the corn meal alone. The Paella was made with clams, mussels, shrimp while the salmon advertised on the menu was missing. Not only did the shrimp taste like the frozen jumbo-bag from Costco, the clams and mussels could have easily been in the kitchen for a couple of weeks. Nothing like seafood that’s not fresh. Plus, the rice was super salty and probably reheated in the microwave.

Aside from the food, we should have realized this may not have lived up to expectations since we were the only patrons in the restaurant. It’s cheap and cheesy decorations that were probably left over from whatever watering hole used to be there. You can see from the picture that a man and woman (complete with a coconut bra) are painted on top of a beach landscape next to the tiki-hut-turned-bar.

The only glimmer of hope is that Time Out Chicago 2006 said to try the Sandwiches with homemade bread. But not for us gluten-free gals.

Casa de la Empanadas
4009 N Elston Ave.

The last empanadas I had were in Punta Del Este, Uruguay. Yasmin and I happened upon the most amazing empanada shop with more choices you could ever imagine!!! If you’re ever wandering the streets of Uruguay wondering if you could get a good empanada, just check out the mini-flier below and find your way to the shop near Punta’s bus station!

And this is at my last empanada supper.  December 2008. Photo by Yasmin.

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