Empanadas Two Ways in Downtown SLC: Arempas
Around the globe, the word “empanada” stems from the basic definition of cooked pastry with fillings, loosely referring to a variety of South and Central American dishes that vary in preparation and the ingredients used. In the span of three blocks, Salt Lake City boasts two restaurants that feature authentic Venezuelan (Arempas) and Argentine (Argentina’s Best Empanadas) empanadas, showcasing the unique culinary qualities that define these regional styles.
Opened in 2019 at the heavily trafficked corner of Exchange Place and State Street, Arempas prides themselves on creating authentic, traditional Venezuelan cuisine, as well as being one of the few Downtown restaurants open late (3 a.m. on weekends!). The defining quality of Venezuelan empanadas is the thick, corn-flour shell, a quality that makes much of Arempas’ food inherently gluten-free. The empanadas served at Arempas are decidedly massive, stuffed with all manner of meats and veggies and cheeses. The shell has a richness and graininess to it that resembles a fairpark corn dog casing, and every bit of the corn flour’s sweetness speaks in Arempas’ empanadas.
Arempas offers 10 different empanada fillings, my personal favorite being the packed Pabellon offering that features black beans, shredded beef, plantains and cheese. The four ingredients each possess their own richness—fat from the beef, fruity sweetness from the plantains, creaminess from the cheese and earthiness from the beans—that, along with the corn shell, makes this savory snack feel almost like a sweet treat. In addition to their empanadas, Arempas offers a number of vegan options, as well as other traditional Venezuelan dishes such as arepas. Pick up an order for a quick lunch to tide you over during a long office workday Downtown, or visit the shop when you’re stumbling home from your third (or was it fourth?) bar of the night and need a quick jab of nourishment.
Arempas is located on 350 S. State Street and is open Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. For more info, visit arempas.com.