BY PETER JONES
Argentinian cuisine is the latest to enter the ever-diverse Denver Tech Center restaurant marketplace. After three years of success on South Broadway on Denver’s Antique Row, Maria Empanada is slowly becoming a DTC lunchtime and take-out favorite.
Couched in Belleview Promenade’s line of fast-casual eateries, it might be easy to miss this small South American entry, but for those weary of the predictable will make way to find it.
“You only see burritos, tacos and hamburgers. I wanted to be that one that is missing,” said Lorena Cantorovici, the Buenos Aires-born restaurateur who owns and operates the original store and the newer Greenwood Village location that debuted in September.
The menu is based around the empanada, a Spanish-originated pastry dish and the national staple of Argentina. The pastries are filled with a range of meat and vegetable options. The stuffed mushroom tarta is another favorite.
The menu is based around the empanada, a Spanish-originated pastry dish and the national staple of Cantorovici’s homeland. Culled from her mother Maria’s homegrown recipes—hence the restaurant’s name—the owner prides herself on filling her all-purpose empanadas with the freshest meats and vegetables she can find.
The Mushroom, with onions, garlic and cheese blend, The Corn, and The Tango, with sweet onions, ham, peppers and mozzarella, are three of the chef’s favorites. There are vegan and vegetarian options too.
The hearty stuffed tartas are also a favorite.
“It’s very elegant, very flavorful. It’s beautiful family-styled food,” Cantorovici said.
The restaurant has even received rave reviews from Food Network’s Guy Fieri.
Although the owner has adapted her recipes to a fast-casual marketplace, she is quick to emphasize that a quickness of service is about the only aspect of Maria Empanada that is not authentic to her native Argentina.
“We are people who love to talk. We love to wait,” she said. “At lunch over there—even in business—it can take two hours, easy.”
Maria Empanada is located at 8000 E. Belleview Ave.
Native Argentinian Lorena Cantorovici has opened her second Maria Empanada restaurant on East Belleview Avenue after three successful years on Denver’s Antique Row.Photos by Peter Jones
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