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Sarah’s Empanadas, boiling plantains since 1988 (and a reminder)

Posted by DNR 10 Jun 2008 5 Comments

You can imagine my excitement when I found out about Sarah’s Empanadas, a popular Bolivian lunch place in Greenwood Commons in RTP, since empanadas are amazing. Although the empanadas themselves are okay, they’re not quite enough to make up for the painful sides.

We got there right at noon and it quickly became packed. The RTP crowd obviously comes for the empanadas, which are $2.50 apiece and are priced from $5 to $7.50 based on whether you get one or two empanadas and one or two sides. They also have fruit drinks, desserts, huge paintings, and llama paraphernalia.

We went with a beef empanada and a chicken and cheese empanada, and a special they called “pollo loco,” which is Bolivian for frozen stir-fry and Zatarain’s yellow rice. The empanadas, on the other hand, are definitely good, especially with the slightly sweet salsa that comes with them. The picadillo (beef, peas, olives, raisins, and potato) and the chicken were tasty, but the real star is the pastry crust. I’m pretty sure the mango drink was Jumex, but the apple empanada and churros were great.

Forgetting the crazy chicken, everything was alright (it’s hard to screw up fried yucca), but to our amazement the fried plantains were so gummy and flavorless they were borderline inedible. My friend guesses that they boil their plantains to save some time before giving them a cursory fry. Is this how they do it in Bolivia?

Since writing about disappointing restaurants is as much fun as reading about them, you guys have been to Pupuseria y Taqueria Orellana, right? It was the subject of one of our earliest posts and is, in fact, holy. The yucca frita con chicharron is out of this world, and if you’ve only had it at El Cuscatleco you’re really in for something (and notice the 100.0 sanitation score!).

Sarah’s Empanadas (map)
Monday-Friday: 11 am – 2 pm

Pupuseria y Taqueria Orellana (map)
Sunday – Saturday: 11 am – 9 pm


  • Carpe Durham/Reasonably Prudent Person said:

    Indeed, indeed. If you decide to only listen to a single review we have ever given, for the love of god go to Orellana.


  • Crawfish Boil at Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse « Carpe Durham said:

    [...] Boil at Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse It turns out the best thing about Sarah’s Empanadas is its proximity to Papa Mojo’s Roadhouse, a Cajun creole restaurant in Greenwood Commons in [...]

  • Yum Kai Is Appropriately Named « Carpe Durham said:

    [...] great find from my first exploratory trip to Greenwood Commons in RTP, Thai Lanna has been around in one form or another for about 20 years, [...]

  • Orellana lives! (was: A sad day for the Durham food scene: R.I.P. Orellana) « Carpe Durham said:

    [...] closed down.  We try not to pick favorites, but Orellana was universally loved by all of us. If you didn’t eat here while you had the chance, you really missed out. Possibly related [...]

  • Emily said:

    I read the review in the Independent for Sarah’s Empanadas, so I went yesterday. I thought the empanadas were great. I had the spinach and cheese one. I have not eaten Bolivina food before, but I lived in Chile for a year, and the empanadas were similar to the ones I ate in Chile. I thought the side of beans and rice were good too. My whole meal was only $5 and filled me up which is pretty affordable these days. I’ll have to try the other place though.


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