BY THE VILLAGE SUN | No offense to Papaya Dog and fans of its corn dogs and fried onion rings — but this looks like an upgrade.
Empanada Mama recently opened in the former Papaya Dog space at the northwest corner of 14th Street and First Avenue. The place’s menu boasts “more than 40 flavors of empanadas,” all made with “100% natural products,” including “whole grain wheat and corn.”
“Our main product is our empanada,” the company says. “Not any empanada, but the mama of all empanadas — or the one just like a Latin mama would make it. A superior product, made with fresh ingredients, a bountiful variety of flavors and with different preparation methods and crusts to attend to different tastes and preferences.
“At Empanada Mama you can sink your teeth into the soft pastry shell to discover a flavorful filling of beef, chicken, pork or vegan stuffing. … A treat to be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
“Whatever flavors you like, you can expect them here, wrapped in a warm, yielding pocket: Greek (spinach pie), Cuban (ham, pork and cheese), Polish (kielbasa and sauerkraut), Hawaiian (ham, cheese and pineapple), Italian (sausage, peppers and onions) and American (cheeseburger). Other small offerings include arepas, tamales and veal and rice balls, fork-tender meatballs in a lemon-based gravy.”
The place does offer baked empanadas, as well, which are healthier than the traditional fried style — and also probably healthier than Papaya Dog’s famed franks.
For direct online orders, Empanada Mama (empanadamama.com) is offering a 20 percent discount on first-time orders, plus a 15 percent discount (with code MAMA 15) for every order after the first purchase.
This is the fourth Manhattan location for the Colombian-food mini-chain, which also boasts outlets on the Lower East Side, at 95 Allen St., in Hell’s Kitchen, at 52nd Street and Ninth Avenue, and Times Square, at 40th Street and Seventh Avenue.
The small E. 14th Street location is mainly set up as a takeout place.
Meanwhile, as previously exclusively reported by The Village Sun, the new Panda Express across the street from Empanada Mama at the southwest corner of 14th Street and First Avenue — though, by all appearances, seemingly ready to open — is not scheduled to do so until sometime in the first quarter of 2023. Though widely known throughout the rest of the country, the “American Chinese”-style fast-food place — mostly associated with suburban mall food courts — has only recently started to build a presence in the restaurant mecca of New York City, and has zero stores in all of New England.