Fried or sometimes baked, these savory Latin turnovers can be stuffed with anything--meat, fish or vegetables.
Tere's Mexican Grill: In a small Hollywood mini-mall, this family-run grill serves puffy fried cornmeal empanadas filled with chorizo sausage, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and garlic. You get two on a bed of shredded lettuce with guacamole and pico de gallo. For a little bit extra, you can get Spanish rice and refried beans on the side. (Empanadas, $5.50; with beans and rice, $6.95.) Tere's Mexican Grill, 5870 W. Melrose Ave., L.A., (323) 468-9345.
Little Belize: Owner Adrian Zetina specializes in Belizean fish empanadas. Tuna fried with green peppers and onions is the filling for the little cornmeal dumplings, which are topped with chopped cabbage, habaneros and onions. These silver-dollar-sized empanadas cost less than a dollar. (Fish empanadas, 75 cents each.) Little Belize, 217 Nutwood Ave., Inglewood, (310) 674-0696.
Mojo: Chef Reza Motamednia makes a plate of three empanadas--one with Mexican beef chorizo, one with chicken, almonds and dried fruit, and the third with shrimp, corn, green chiles and cheese. Served with a puree of avocado, cilantro, jalapeno and tomatillos, and a spicy chile sauce. (Tres empanadas, $16.) Mojo, W Hotel, 930 Hilgard Ave., Westwood, (310) 443-7820.
Empanada's Place: This chain, which specializes in Argentine empanadas, just opened its third location on La Cienega Boulevard. It features 16 varieties, eight with meat and eight with vegetable fillings. The fried dumplings are small enough that you'll want to try at least three, so how about starting with a criolla (beef, raisins, green onions and egg) and a pascualina (spinach, mozzarella and white sauce)? They come with green salad in Italian dressing. (Empanadas, $2.25 each; 12 for $22.50.) Empanada's Place, 3811 Sawtelle Blvd., Culver City, (310) 391-0888; 18912 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana, (818) 708-8640; 1040 N. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., (310) 358-0588.
Carlitos Gardel: Chef Azniz Bozoghlian makes an assortment of delicately flavored little empanadas with four choices of filling: ground beef, chicken with bell peppers, spinach with cheese or a very subtle corn filling. The fried empanadas are served with chimichurri, an Argentine garlic-parsley sauce. (Empanadas, $2.90 each.) Carlitos Gardel, 7963 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, (323) 655-0891.