Unsatisfied with Empanadas Monumental in Haverstraw, I took a lovely day drive to Morristown, NJ for an afternoon or sightseeing and Raul’s Empanada Town.  Raul’s Empanada Town is a “Fast Food” Empanada shop.  I put fast food in quotes because it greatly surpasses the poor quality standards that have become synonymous with fast food restaurants.  At Raul’s they have combined traditional Empanadas from Latin American cuisine with global spices and foods expanding the tastes of the average American restaurant goer.  Raul provides a Latin American favorite to people at a cheap price and at easy access.

An Empanada is stuffed pastry filled with meat or vegetables and fried.  It comes from the word empanar, which mean ‘to wrap’ or ‘to bread’ in Spanish.  I had 3 different empanadas at Raul’s.

A brown rice and beans with steak:                                                                          

The vegetable:                                                                                                             

And an Empanada called “Paradise” which was chicken, shrimp, and spiced vegetables.

He also had a variety of dessert Empanadas which were not as delicious as his savory ones.  I tried an Apple Walnut, and a Guava and Cheese.  But I could have done with out them, and just gotten two more beef or rice and bean ones.  Here is the guava and cheese:

The empanada is a great snack because of it’s portability.  You can take a full meal wrapped inside a cornmeal exterior.  You can walk around and eat from your hand with no mess.  They’re relatives of any portable meal such as pasties, calzones, or turnovers.  This style of food was created to be a portable meal for people working and having dirty hands.  The empanada most likely originates from Galicia, Spain where empanadas are so big they have their own festival.  The meal most likely spread to Latin America from Galician immigrants.  Each region has different common ingredients for their empanadas ranging from chicken, seafood, beef, and vegetables to boiled eggs, olives, raisins, and sauces. A popular empanada in Argentina consists of beef, potatoes, olives, egg, peas, and carrots.  In Ecuador it is a combination of onions, peppers, and chilies.  Columbia usually has cheese in their empanadas weather it be chicken or trout filling.  While the popular empanadas of Spain consist of mainly just chicken and fish.  Most Latin American countries all have an Empanada Day of their own where they take delight in feasting on their own regional empanada recipes.  (The shell is usually corn based, but in some areas a flour shell is used.)

[Unfortunately] it’s said Empanadas were first served in the US at Taco Bell, but can now be found on some Latin American menus.