Empanadas are like little presents: They come wrapped, and what's inside is often a pleasurable surprise.
That was definitely the case with the house-made empanadas at Colombian restaurant Pal Rancho on the edge of Parkland in Coral Springs. The little pastries were only one dollar apiece and contained either beef, chicken, or cheese.
I ordered two beef empanadas from my sweet, friendly waitress. When she delivered them, they came to the
table in a smooth, wooden bowl wrapped in a homey wicker basket. The
empanadas were smallish, about two inches long and half-moon shaped.
But they had an appealing bright-yellow coating that was supremely
crisp. I couldn't wait to crack them open.
Colombian-style beef or chicken empanadas come with rice mixed along
with the meat. But these beef empanadas featured potatoes with soft,
tender strands of braised beef. I splashed a piece with some vinegary
green onion salsa provided in another small wooden bowl. This sauce is
actually somewhere between a chimichurri and a regular salsa, with a
little bit of heat, grassy notes of herbs and scallion, and lots of
vinegar. The tart mixture perked the empanadas right up. It was a great
Pal Rancho is small and quaint. The booths look
like they were held over from an old deli, and the walls are bright
yellow with a mural of a schoolbus on one side. Thanks to the staff --
two of the friendliest waitresses I've ever encountered -- the place
feels very warm and inviting. Aside from empanadas, Pal Rancho serves
hearty Colombian fare like bandeja paisa (the national dish of steak,
pork rind, eggs, and rice and beans), grilled chicken, whole red
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snapper with tostones, and ceviche. I'd definitely go back to try more
and grab some more empanadas. Cheap, homemade, tasty: They're like a gift that keeps on giving.
5637 Coral Ridge Drive, Coral Springs 33076
Open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily