I went here on the recommendation of the owner of Lady Mosquito, a great Peruvian/Venezuelan jewelry shop in the area. I am happy that I had not had dinner and that I took her recommendation.
1. Empanadas - delicious, Argentine style empanadas (baked, not cornmeal). There are 6 or 7 different choices. You can buy 3 for $7.95. I had the beef with green olive, humita (corn), and ham and cheese. The beef was the best, but the humita was very good, seasoned with a touch of black pepper and the sweetness of the corn came out. The ham and cheese empanada was OK, but I have had better. I think they shred the cheese and mix it up with the ham, so they flavour and toothsomeness of the ham gets a bit lost. Very good pastry, moist filling, and warm. Decent portion size - 3 can be a meal.
2. Alfajor - there is the traditional, maizena alfajaor with coconut. It is made at the restaurant and is delish. They also sell chocolate one. I did not try it, but it piqued my interest. It is also gluten free.
3. Mate - they sure do a lot of different things with mate. I had a mate punch, which is basically mate mixed in some sort of fruit cocktail and mildly sweetened. It was good particularly as Mate is a bit of an acquired taste.
4. Decor - the start of the place is the very cool espresso maker. I wanted to have coffee only because of that! It's a cute, artsy cafe, similar to La Merceria?, which used to be on Adelaide. I think the empanadas at El Almarcen are better though.
1. A little small, but still holds about 25 to 35 people
2. Initially a bit rushed with service such that I changed my drink order as I did not have time to look at the boards and see all of the drink options. The fact that it was rushed was strange as no one was waiting behind me. When other people came, I found that they rushed someone else who seemed to have never been there before. They were friendlier with their regulars. This is not the best first impression. They can improve upon this.
3. They ran out of drip coffee, but had espresso based options. For a cafe, to run out of regular, drip coffee makes no sense.
4. If you are dining with a vegan, I am not sure how vegan friendly it is - the empanadas are most likely egg brushed and also likely have butter. I think there are salads though. But, you don't exactly go to an Argentinian cafe or restaurant for vegan food!
A good, cute neighbourhood find. Not a lot of options, but what's there is done very well.
I would recommend it for a good empanada and alfajor. I'll be back for those things!