El Patio de La Empanada, Salta
comment Comment Written by on April 16, 2010 – 9:24 am



“There’s a great empanada place right near my house in Palermo,” I said to my Salteño friend recently.

“Bah,” he scoffed. “Wait until you’ve been to Salta. Then you’ll know what a good empanada is.”

Salta, in Argentina’s north west, is renowned for its empanadas and this week I finally got to check them out for myself.

For the full local experience, I went to El Patio de La Empanada, which is made up of a cluster of stalls centred around a central open-air terrace. It’s a lively place, packed out with tables covered in mismatched cloths. There’s a constant movement of people – many locals and some Argentinian tourists.

I ordered humita (a creamy corn mix packaged in a maize leaf) and cheese empanadas. The latter were, indeed, quite unlike any I have tried in BA. They were thinner, crispier and… I *think* there was some egg, herbs and potato in the mix. They felt, well, just more considered. In BA, they are often just melted cheese in slightly greasy pastry. Satisfying enough, but one too many and you feel your face may end up as shiny as the oil dripping out of the bottom.   

All in all, El Patio was a good spot to try the Salteño version. As my friend and I were discussing its merits at the end of our meal (£2 each), we clocked an elderly man who had started hovering next to our table. He babbled something about foreigners being welcome here and put down some little calendars on our table. Instinctively, I found myself saying a friendly “No, gracias” and inwardly hoping he’d move along.  He started to laugh.

“Ha, you assume I want to sell you something, eh? Haha. I understand. I bet you get that a lot, but actually I just wanted to give you this.” Then he displayed a full range of these little card-sized calendars in front of us, each with a different picture of a Salteño attraction. “Choose one. It’s a gift from the house,” he said. “And so is this,” he added, passing us a multicoloured lollipop. “I wanted to tell you we are seven different companies working here in this patio and we value your business. We would love you to come back and we would love you to tell your friends.” And with that he gave another illuminating grin and left us to finish our drinks.

In homage to this lovely man and as an apology for our presumptions, I hereby heartily recommend El Patio de Las Empanadas. I have just stuck my little calendar above my desk as a souvenir and hopefully one day I will, indeed, return.

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