Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Lunch at Manolo's

Today we went out to lunch at Manolo's Pizza & Empanadas in Urbana, Illinois. If you live in central Illinois, or happen to be passing through on a trip, this place is well worth a stop. This is the third or fourth time I've eaten there, and every time they have something new and delicious.

They specialize in empanadas -- little palm-sized packets of meat, vegetables, or fruit wrapped in a crispy crust. This is perfect travel food; it isn't greasy or drippy at all. Savory flavors include ham and cheese, cheese and corn, mixed vegetable, inferno chicken, and mushroom thyme. Some, like the San Telmo Pollo, are spiced with "traditional Argentine flavors." I haven't had other Argentinian cuisine for comparison, but I can confirm that the result is identifiably south of the border, and notably different from Mexico-local cooking. Dessert flavors are caramel apple, raspberry cheesecake, and apple streusel. The caramel apple is stuffed with chopped spiced apple, and drizzled in melted caramel sauce. The cheesecake is stuffed with raspberry, graham cracker, and cream cheese that turns to a sort of fruity fluff inside; and sprinkled with powdered sugar. (Okay, so the dessert ones are a little messy to eat. They're worth it.) Additional flavors, including breakfast ones, are in planning. Empanadas are branded with a letter, and you get a key page with your order, so you can tell them apart. They are available individually, but there are bargain rates for batches of 3, 6, 9, or 12.

They also serve pizza, with intriguing flavors, which we have not yet sampled due to the irresistible empanadas. However, it turns out the pizza has a sourdough crust, so we have resolved to sample it on a future trip.

Manolo's violates one of the laws of the universe: "Good-Fast-Cheap: Pick 2." Here you get all three, and good service. I know about the upcoming flavors because one of the cooks brought out the latter part of our order, and started chatting about the plans when we made appreciative noises. The only drawback is that, because they go through about 500 empanadas per day in a tiny little restaurant, sometimes they run out of a flavor or you have to wait a few minutes for a fresh batch. That's not a hardship considering that they've got 14 flavors already -- and I can hardly wait to try the new ones!
Tags: food, review
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