Wednesday, May 18, 2011

5411 Empanadas

Location: Check twitter or their website for new locations daily (this time was in Streeterville).
Cost: Depends how much you want ($2.50 per empanada)

So my friend J-hop has become pretty obsessed with food trucks. She sits a few chairs down from me in lecture and is on twitter a decent amount. Occasionally she leans over and tells me that some truck or other is going to be on campus and that we have to go. I should mention that Maddie sits between us. You'd think she'd be distracted by such conversations, but I guess after sitting next to me she gets used to it. Anyways, I gave J-hop my typical excited yet noncommittal response and went back to paying attention.

So after class I went to the library to study a bit and just so happened to sit at a table near J-hop and our friend Katie. I was getting pretty burned out trying to study right after four hours of lecture, and I ended up goofing around on my computer. Sure enough I got a tweet saying that there were a few empanadas left on the corner of Fairbanks and Superior. That was all we needed. So we packed up our stuff and hustled out of the library for a quick snack from 5411 Empanadas.

It's a pretty simple setup that many of you are probably used to now with this food truck thing in full swing. They tweet their location or put up a basic schedule on their website. You follow closely and then drop whatever you're doing to jock for a good spot in line. It's not legal to cook in any of these food trucks yet, so there's always a moderate risk that food will run out. Chalkboard menus have thus become commonplace.

When we got there it was toward the end of the trucks stay (like 12:45). They were out of a bunch of options, but that's to be expected at the time we went. On the other hand, there wasn't a line and we got our scrumptious treats in a matter of seconds.

An empanada is $2.50. I think drinks were $1. It's pretty cheap, but you'd have to get at least 3 empanadas to resemble a meal (at least for me). They charge tax which I think is a little strange at a truck. I feel like even change would be a nice touch for quick exchanges, but that's not how they chose to go.

The Food
So we had limited options (our fault, not theirs), but I tried what I could. I ended up getting a Sweet Corn Empanada and a Caramelized Onion with Parmesan Cheese Empanada. The sweet corn one was a bit plain tasting, but the filling was bursting out the sides. The corn gave a nice textural variety and wasn't overly mushy. The caramelized onion empanada was way better in my opinion. It was on the sweeter side of things with a little savory kick from the cheese. As far as the pastry was concerned, J-hop, Katie, and I were definitely expecting a crispier exterior. This might be from them sitting around in a warmer for a while since they can't cook on sight, but I can't say for sure. Either way, there was enough substance to the dough to counter the creamy fillings.

The Caramelized Onion Empanada

J-hop, Katie, and our Empanadas

I think how you judge 5411 Empanadas depends a lot on what you expect. I wanted a solid early afternoon snack, and that's what I got. Sweet and savory flavors rang through these bad boys. If I'd gone expecting lunch, I think I would have been left wanting more. It's a quick option for something you don't see every day, and they may just pull up to your street corner in the near future. I'm giving them 3 out of 5 Pearls.

5411: Gourmet Empanadas on Urbanspoon


  1. I believe this post has slightly misrepresented the percentage of class spent paying attention and the percentage of class spent tweeting/blogging/gchatting/sporcle-ing.