Go Eat This Now: ¡Venga! Empanadas

This seven-year-old shop on Valencia has the widest selection of empanadas in San Francisco, plus alfajores.

It’s late afternoon, you’ve just finished a meeting in the Mission, and there’s just enough time for a quick snack before heading home. You’re in the mood for something easy, delicious but not too filling — and definitely not expensive. ¡Venga! Empanadas is a cute little Argentinian bungalow located on the corner of Valencia and 15th streets that has just what you’re looking for.

Once inside ¡Venga!, you’ll be greeted by a massive glass case full of rows and rows of golden-brown, half-moon-shaped pastries. Although they’ve flown under the radar since opening in 2011, ¡Venga! has the largest selection of empanadas in San Francisco, with about 20 variations. Baked fresh daily, they range from classic choices like Argentine beef, chorizo, or ham-and-cheese, to veggie options like sweet corn, mushroom, and caprese. They also have specialities like the breakfast empanada, three-cheese-and-walnut, or kale with beets, bacon, and almonds.

Priced from $3.50 to $5.50, these petit turnovers fit beautifully into the palm of your hand. The dough is thin, crispy, egg-washed, and the most beautiful blond color. They are meticulously folded and the word “VENGA” is stamped into the crimps. After cracking one open, they’ll billow steamy aromas of bell pepper, tomatoes, onions, cumin, and chili flakes — and they can all be ordered gluten-free if you’re into that sort of thing. ¡Venga! also offers homemade soups, fresh salads, and traditional desserts like flan, mousse de dulce de leche, and alfajores (an Argentine cookie with dulce de leche filling). Summer is over and it’s time to get back to the grind. Take a little break every once in awhile. You deserve savory pastry with a glass of Clerico.

¡Venga! Empanadas, 443 Valencia St., 415-552-5895 or vengaempanadas.com

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