Empanada Madness is a catchy name, but a sizable portion of the menu at this snack bar on Southwest Boulevard is devoted to arepas.
By JILL WENDHOLT SILVA
The Kansas City Star
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 fathers 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.
906 Southwest Blvd.
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