The $5 Lunch

Arepas and other tastes round out menu at Empanada Madness

Updated: 2014-03-19T19:27:34Z

By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA

The Kansas City Star

Empanada Madness is a catchy name, but a sizable portion of the menu at this snack bar on Southwest Boulevard is devoted to arepas.

That makes a certain amount of sense, because co-owner Andrea Peñaloza is originally from Venezuela, where arepas are a popular staple of the cuisine.

The corn cake is about the size of an English muffin, and like its wheat-based cousin, an arepa can be stuffed with a variety of fillings.

For a recent lunch I ordered the arepa guasacaca ($3.25), which is stuffed with a garlic aioli sauce and melted cheese and comes with a small side salad.

Add a pastellito ($1.75), a puff pastry folded like a half moon and stuffed with your choice of potato, queso fresco and eggs, shredded chicken or ground beef. Garnish both items with a dollop of either the avocado, habanero or garlic aioli sauces applied from squirt bottles brought to your table.

Of course, I could just as easily have ordered a namesake empanada ($3), available with various fillings: potato, queso fresco and eggs, shredded beef, shredded chicken or ground beef, then paired it with an a la carte order of white rice, yellow rice, black beans, pinto beans, mashed potatoes or chicken potato salad ($1.99 each).

Empanadas, arepas and pastellitos are “quick-fix foods found on every corner” throughout Mexico and Latin America, says Peñaloza, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband and father.

A first-time restaurant owner, Peñaloza worked at Chipotle before opening her own shop two months ago.

The Caribbean-style decor was inspired by building materials left over from her father’s roofing business: hop onto one of the metal stools at the L-shaped corrugated metal bar or choose a cafe table. Meanwhile, Latin salsa plays on the sound system, and colorful paintings (all for sale) adorn the walls.

The painting hanging above the table where I sat was titled “Soccer.” The swirling canvas of red, orange and yellow players was so contorted — or should I say passionate — they might have been emerging from the depths of, yes, some kind of madness.

Empanada Madness

906 Southwest Blvd.

816-503-6931

EmpanadaMadness.com and Facebook

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

To reach Jill Wendholt Silva, The Star’s food editor and restaurant critic, call 816-234-4347, send email to jsilva@kcstar.com or follow her on Facebook. Follower her on Twitter: @kcstarfood and @chowtownkc.

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