Cumaná Empanadas

In search of the perfect empanada in Buenos Aires…

It’s tough to try to find the ‘best’ empanadas in Buenos Aires (just ask Saltshaker). Primarily because there are so many different places to try them at, and of course many different types of empanada from across the different regions of Argentina, and even the rest of Latin America. At Cumaná in Recoleta, the empanadas are very good, are of excellent value, and your empanada craving will be properly satiated.

Empanadas, vino tinto and… colorful crayons?

At Cumaná, the empanadas are not the only fun to be had. Colorful crayons are available for children and grown-up kids alike, to be used on the paper tablecloths. This of course inevitably leads to silliness such as chalking down your order on the table in front of you. Still, if your Spanish pronunciation is a little rusty, it definitely beats plain old pointing at the items on the menu that you want to order.

As well as creating this fun juvenile air with the crayons, the general atmosphere at Cumaná is also buzzing, busy and brash. The tables and seats are fairly small and packed in tight, and the place always seems to be full at both lunch and dinner sittings, so it is not a place to go for a quiet, relaxed or intimate conversation. Instead, Cumaná is there for traditional Argentine food in a traditional energetic, rustic Argentine setting.

OK, so the service is pretty slow, but this is something forgivable in Buenos Aires, because it really is the norm here. You just have to adjust to it, and change your expectations accordingly: i.e. let go and relax, there’s no rush.

But enough about the service and atmosphere, and on to the main reason you’re here. To sample…

Cumaná’s Empanadas

The empanadas at Cumaná look pretty tasty. They should be properly browned in places on the outside, and even slightly burned here and there. It just adds to the flavor a little. So Cumaná delivers on that front.

For an introducion to Cumaná empanadas, below you will find a more detailed description of a few of the more popular fillings and flavors:

  • Lomo Picante – Chopped lomo (tenderloin) steak in a mildly spicy, meaty sauce. This is a great one to start with. It’s not as spicy as the name suggests, but the more subtle flavors of a frankly delicious sauce to come to the fore. And the chopped lomo steak easily beats the standard minced beef from your average empanada de carne.
  • Humita – Creamed corn. Cumana’s version outdoes most local attempts by using a lot of corn, and just the right amount of tasty white cream sauce, and so their Humita gets the thumbs up.
  • Jamón y Queso – Ham and cheese. Apart from beef, jamón y queso is the next most common empanada filling you see in Buenos Aires. It is a basic, rarely spectacular empanada filling, and to be honest, quite hard to mess up. Cumaná does a respectable version, with a good amount of ham, which sometimes can be a problem.
  • Choclo, Calabaza y Queso – Corn, squash and cheese. A great combination of fillings that really work wonders together. Not a traditional mix, but one of Cumaná’s creations that really make their selection a step above the rest.

So, all in all, above average empanada fillings with a couple of stand outs. And, although fairly small as compared to their counterparts at El Sanjuanino, they offer good value. Cumaná’s empanadas are cooked in a traditional large wood-burning oven.

Other Traditional Argentine Dishes at Cumana

Cumaná also offers up many other great regional dishes from around the rest of Argentina and Latin America. Their Locro, Mondongo and Tamales are all very tasty. In fact, in addition to enjoying the same empanada fillings at Cumana, Saltshaker also speaks very highly of their Locro.

Also very traditional in the city of Buenos Aires are ñoquis (gnocchi).  They are cooked in a clay pot in the same oven as the empanadas, and with lots of cheese in the creamy tomato sauce, which produces a lovely crunchy top, and a delicious gooey creamy, cheesy mess underneath. Simply spectacular.

Share the goodness

Go with a few friends, order a bunch of different empanadas (especially the delicious lomo picante and choclo, calabaza y queso versions), maybe a few other different traditional Argentine dishes such as the locro, and share the lot. You will eat extremely well for very few pesos. Wash it all down with the house vino tinto (red wine) and your Cumaná experience is complete.

Location of Cumana Empanadas

Rodriguez Peña 1149, between Arenales & Santa Fe, Recoleta
Tel: 4813 9207

Reader interactions

7 Replies to “Cumaná Empanadas”

  1. Thanks for taking on this arduous task Alan, I wish you all the best 😉 May the best empanada win, and I’m craving some of those amazing-looking gnocchis right about now…


  2. Thanks for the best wishes Cesar, i’ll certainly need them if i’m to find an empanada de pollo that I actually like 🙂
    By the way, if anyone has any recommendations for great Empanadas in Buenos Aires, please let us know in these comments!


  3. A wonderful task to try. As a newcomer to buenos aires, i wonder if there are any specialty empanada places. Can you find that strange, wasabi infused tofu and tuna empanada or does that just seems strange ;-). Let me know on my site or yours as I think while your judgements were fantastic I am always searching for the weird and wonderful


  4. Hi Max,
    Thanks for the nice comment and welcome to the Buenos Aires blogosphere!
    I’m sure there are places that do weird and wonderful empanada varieties like the one you mention, I’m just not aware of any yet…
    I will keep a look out, and fill you in if I find anything like that. Though i’ll have to pass on any empanada involving tuna… i’m allergic to fish 🙁
    All the best,
    (Nice blog by the way!)


  5. Alan,
    You’re completely right and you’re standing up for yourself. Sometimes a man has to draw a line, he will not be shoved anymore, he demands to be listened to, he will NOT be ignored… and apparently the place to do that is not Cumana… but… my point escapes me… uhmm… it was… oh right, I DON’T CARE WHAT THEY THINK EITHER!!!!
    But I am glad that you still care what Diva and I think 😀
    Cumana is an atmosphere place. For awesome chicken empanadas try Ña Serapia on Las Heras and Bulnes (approximately). Now THAT is a restaurant which has it’s tables close together! Both of them!


  6. I noticed that you’ve only mentioned one place to get good empanadas, but have you eaten at La Americana on Bartolomé Mitre in Congreso? In my humble opinion, having tried empanada as far north as La República Dominicana, I would say that they are some of the best.


  7. yes Cumana’s Restaurant is at the top of our list for an enjoyable snack or lunch break. Empanada’s and Tamale’s are delicious. Pizza’s are very good (better than NYC’s Ray’s Pizza. The eggplant casserole is outstanding with a $7.00 bottle of Malbec from Mendoza. Get there between 12 noon (when Cumana opens) and 1:00 P.M. Otherwise, you’ll be outside on the sidewalk in a long line — listening to the loud bus noise on Santa Fe Avenue. Me and Chef V, my wife, give Cumana 2 thumbs way up. MichaelZ, Upper East Side, New York City


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.