85-05 Northern Boulevard
Jackson Heights, New York, 11372
(718) 505-9937 / 1393

About a year ago a place called Joe's Empanadas opened in Chelsea and a few months ago they closed. Damn, I thought. Now how was I gonna fill my random empanada cravings? Why empanadas? Well, dear reader, sometimes you want a fast, snacky food, served dirt cheap that you can eat on the run that isn't pizza or a dollar-menu McChicken sandwich. Jackson Heights has such a place. Mama's Empanads, a 24-hour, cash-only empanada haven serving out an alleged 50 varieties of the pocket treats. I went with Bro and we tried about 10.

Mama's Empanadas is not the classiest of places to have a bite to eat. The counters could use a wipe-down and the closest thing they have to a table is a wrap around bar with stools so uncomfortable they they must have been designed to get you to sit for as short a period of time as humanly possible. That said, Mama has a husband named Papa, and Papa's Empanadas is one block West with tables and an expanded menu.

As I said, Bro and I tried about 20% of the menu. You can get your empanadas with a corn (maiz) or wheat (trigo) wrap and there are also breakfast varieties. Without boring you with a breakdown of each one, let's break it down to the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good: Carne y Papas Maiz, shredded beef and potato in a corn shell. Carne Molida Maiz, ground beef in a corn shell. Beef Trigo, ground beef in a wheat shell. Reggaero Trigo, rice and green peas with ham. Follow this up with the Ham and Cheese Trigo and the rule here seems to be that the oldies but goodies are the best. Unlike the fancier ones below, which we decided we could have easily lived without.

The Bad: Greek Trigo, spinach, feta and mozzarella in a wheat shell. Yecch. Cuban Trigo, ham, pork and cheese. Not horrible bad, but not good. Better than the Greek, which is more than I'll give the Broccoli and Cheese Maiz, which was just as bad. Last on the bad list, the Cheese Steak Trigo, steak, onion, pepper and cheese in a wheat shell. Or at least steak and cheese. I can't speak for the other two ingredients.

The Ugly: The Chocolate Empanada, dark chocolate and peanut butter in a powdered sugar coated patty. I was looking forward to this one, and man, oh man, what a let down. It was just weird in a bad way. The chocolate was too bitter and the peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth like room-temperature caulk. This could have been so good.

The empanadas range in price from $1 to $2.50 (and that one has scallops and crab). For an alternative opinion on Mama's Empanadas, check out Feisty Foodie's recent visit.

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