January 2017

Patagonia Empanadas

Frank and I had the pleasure of roaming around Argentina a few years ago. Not only did we delight at the scenery and diversity of this wonderful country, but we developed a serious taste for its food and wine. So we were very pleased when a foodie friend told us about Patagonia Empanadas, 2279 N. Tustin in Orange – just opposite The Village at Orange.

Owner Jorge Taverna moved here from his native Cordova, bringing a lifetime of restaurant experience.  A few months ago, he opened this tiny café where he shares chef duties with Sonia, a fellow Cordovan, who also doubles at the counter when necessary.  When I dropped by to pick up empanadas to serve with turkey soup right after Christmas, Jorge’s granddaughter Ashley was happily employed at the counter. Everyone here is friendly, cheerful and charming.

 Argentina’s cuisine now carries many European influences, thanks to the immigrants that came to that country from Italy and Germany. During our visit, empanadas quickly became one of our favorite things, available in big or small, fancy or humble restaurants, and even street carts. These little semi-circular pies are small enough to hold in your hand, but big enough to enclose plenty of tasty filling. At Patagonia Empanadas, you will find 16 choices (at an amazing $2.50 each), giving you very good reason to return again and again to try them all. At the time of this  writing, I have tried six varieties, giving each an A-plus, and I’m aiming to try each one. 

You absolutely have to have an empanada, but if you prefer something different, you can choose from pastas and other Italian dishes ($9.99 to $12.99), soups, and hot or cold sandwiches ($6.99 to $9.99). If you don’t have any more room for dessert, be sure to take home a few delicious, very rich traditional alfajores cookies.  Everything is freshly made daily from scratch and can be eaten on the premises, although there’s only seating for a couple of dozen people, with three or four more tables outside. It’s convenient to order take-out, so that your choices will be ready when you arrive.

Jorge is waiting for his liquor license, and looks forward to offering a selection of Argentina’s fine wine.  Meanwhile, there is excellent coffee, macchiato and soft drinks to accompany your meal.

Patagonia Empanadas is open Tues.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., 9 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sun., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Mondays. Call (714) 602-6945 for take-out or delivery. 

Buen apetito – and tell them you discovered Patagonia Empanadas in the Foothills Sentry.