Have you ever said, “I would be fat for [insert name of deliciously fattening food here].”? Well I did pack on a few pounds due to the empanadas and smoothies at the Il Peperone empanada shop, and it was worth every last sit-up I’ve done to try to get back into shape.
Photo by Sofia Carvajal
When I first entered Il Peperone several months ago, I didn’t expect much. I had been unimpressed by the Chilean empanadas (meaty or cheesy turnovers) I had tried up until that moment, and figured Il Peperone’s offerings would be more of the same—the Hot Pocket’s fatter, plainer cousin.
But Il Peperone single-handedly changed my mind about empanadas.. They offer 16 gourmet flavors such as cheese-salmon-spinach, cheese-basil-tomato-bell pepper-onion and, the special of the house, Peperone (filled with cheese, salami, ham, tomato sauce and onion). The empanada fillings are extremely flavorful and always full of a sinful amount of gooey cheese. If you want a meatier empanada, you can choose from beef, pork or chicken fillings in addition to the several vegetarian and seafood options.
But the best part about these empanadas is their crusts. Not only are they artistically fashioned, they also have both plain and whole wheat crusts. Usually the crusts of empanadas are lackluster, seemingly expendable wrappers for the all-important fillings but Il Peperone’s have satisfying stand-alone substance.
The crusts are also shaped and folded into a different design for each flavor—braided edge, straight-edged, rounded, trapezoidal—and they all come on moon-shaped clay platters that perfectly ensconce the hefty finger food. The empanadas all cost CP$1,400 (US$2.56); pricier than a street empanada, but well worth the extra 600 pesos.
If you want something to perfectly complement your heavy empanada, the leche con fruta (milk with fruit) smoothie drinks (CP$1,300, or US$2.37) are stellar. Thick and rich without being sickeningly sweet, these drinkable desserts come in raspberry, strawberry, peach, banana and kiwi flavors.
Il Peperone has been serving up empanadas in a charmingly Old World shop tucked away on a side street near Plaza Brazil for 12 years and, if you go there, you will see why it calls itself “the best kept secret in Barrio Brasil.”
Address: Huerfanos 1954; Huerfanos and Av. Brasil
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday 1:30 pm to Midnight; Saturdays 6 pm to Midnight; closed on Sundays and holidays