Tag Archives: julia’s empanadas

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Empanada Taste Test: Julia’s vs. Panas

What’s the most important component of a good empanada? The dough? The filling? The dipping sauce? The price?

I sought out the answer at two shops in Dupont Circle, offering two vastly different styles of empanadas. Let’s compare the popular Julia’s Empanadas with the newer Panas Gourmet Empanadas.

Size

Julia’s: Large and submarine-shaped. At least six inches long. For most people, one empanada is probably enough as a meal.

Panas: Much smaller than Julia’s — about a quarter the size, somewhat resembling overgrown potstickers. It’d take several of these to fill up.

Style

Julia’s: Baked, not fried. A somewhat crisp crust, and it does have a lightness to it, like a thinner calzone crust.

Panas: I can’t say for certain, but I’m thinking fried. ** The crust is crispy and distinctly flaky, but not at all greasy.

Fillings

Julia’s: Some more traditional Chilean offerings, like ground beef or chorizo, plus others like a vegetarian option or Jamaican. I went with the salteñas, a filling of chicken, potato, green peas, hard boiled egg, raisins, green olives and onion.

Panas: Latin fusion inspired. A little harder to describe, so you’ll have to check out the menu on their website.  Ingredients are said to be all organic. I picked out two to try — smoked eggplant, and the CubaNovo of roast pork rillette with onions, cilantro and Grand Marnier.

Sauces

Julia’s: None offered.

Panas: Each empanada comes with a choice of dipping sauce. (Or, “dripping sauce” as it says on the menu — either that’s a typo or something didn’t translate.) I chose the ají, a spicy yellow chili pepper and mayo sauce, and chimi, a milder more traditional sauce that goes well with meat.

Price

Julia’s: $3.49 per empanada.

Panas: $2.25 per empanada (but keep in mind they’re much smaller than Julia’s). Combo plates are offered, such as three empanadas and a soda for $8.

Overall Impression

Each has its merits. I gravitate more toward the fried-style empanada at Panas, but I appreciate the size and heartiness of Julia’s. Value-wise they’re about equal. Julia’s are larger but served without a sauce, whereas Panas are smaller but come with a dipping sauce. I found the Panas empanadas to be a bit more flavorful, but it probably all depends on the filling. Those sauces were a nice touch though, especially the spicy ají.

A plus about Julia’s — they’re open Friday and Saturday until 4am, which I imagine immensely pleases the post-bar crowd.

Really it comes down to which style of empanada you prefer. Try them both.

** I was wrong, Panas’s empanadas are not fried. I think the first time I went their empanadas were so crispy compared to Julia’s that I mistakenly thought they were fried.

Julia’s Empanadas
1221 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC
202-861-8828

Panas Gourmet Empanadas
2029 P St. NW
Washington, DC
202-223-2964