Eating the World

Where to Get Dumplings, Empanadas, Samosas, and Other Filled Snacks in Metro Phoenix

Sarah Hurwitz

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Sarah Hurwitz

Cornish Pasty Co. finally opened up in downtown Phoenix a few months back, and — after repeat visits — I think the question on all of our minds is, “What other kinds of filled savory foods can I eat, and where do I get them?” Well look no further — we've got a list of savory, carbohydrate-wrapped foods and where to try them right here.

What is it: A baked semicircle pastry with a crimped edge, typically stuffed with meat and vegetables, originally hailing from the U.K.
Where can I get one: Weren’t you listening? Cornish Pasty has five locations, the newest one at 7 West Monroe Street in downtown Phoenix.
Which type should I get: If you’ve never had one, go traditional, get “The Oggie” — steak and vegetables with a side of red wine gravy. If you want to branch out, try “The Pilgrim,” a pasty take on the Thanksgiving sandwich. There are also very good vegetarian options.

What is it: A folded pizza, stuffed with meats, tomato sauce, and cheese, shaped like a semicircle or a sphere.  
Where can I get one: Cibo, 603 North Fifth Avenue. Also Spinato's, which has several Valley locations.
Which type should I get: Cibo has a great calzone stuffed with ricotta, tomato sauce, prosciutto cotto (ham), salami, and mozzarella. At Spinato's, go with the Baked Spaghetti Calzone — which is what is sounds like, spaghetti cooked in a calzone with vodka sauce. And it's delicious.

What is it: This one is a bit confusing to define. What we know as an egg roll in America is just a type of spring roll in China; our egg rolls actually contain no eggs, but are just chopped meat and veggies wrapped and fried.
Where can I get one: Jade Palace, 9160 East Shea Boulevard, Scottsdale. Tightly rolled and delicious, these egg rolls are filled with pork and veggies, served with hot mustard and duck sauce.

What is it: A Salvadoran dish, where a thick corn tortilla is stuffed with savory filling; it usually is served with a slaw called curtido.
Where can I get one: Pupusas Dona Mary, 5889 West Indian School Road, or Quanaquito Restaurant, 1436 East McDowell Road.
Which type should I get: Pupusas Dona Mary has more vegetarian options for pupusas than anywhere I have ever seen, plus you can get a two-pupusa and tamale combo platter. Everything is in Spanish, so you may want to brush up on your vegetable words before going. At Quanaquito, pupusas are around $2 each; I would get a pork one and a cheese and loroco — which is a flower and bud used in Salvadorian cooking — to get that authentic pupusa flavor.
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Sarah Hurwitz

What is it: A super-broad category, but I will mostly be focusing on the Chinese variety. Incorporating chopped vegetables and meat, wrapped in a dough skin, they can be boiled, steamed, fried, or pan-fried.
Where can I get one: Great Wall Cuisine, 5057 North 35th Avenue.
Which type should I get: You can pretty much get dumplings at any Chinese restaurant, but for the best variety head to dim sum at Great Wall Cuisine, open at 9 a.m. on Sunday, 10 a.m on Saturday, and 11 a.m. during the week. Dim sum is served till 3; lines of carts will scoot past your table, with so many varieties of dumplings (shrimp is my favorite, but they also have a scallop dumpling!), as well as greens, fried eggplant, steamed buns, noodles, and more exotic dishes like chicken feet.

What is it: Lots of varieties of this one as well, but usually a fried or baked pasty-filled triangle or pyramid, usually with potatoes and onions.
Where can I get one: For really good ones, head to Pastries ‘N’ Chaat, which has five Valley locations.
Which type should I get: I like a classic samosa with potatoes, peas, and spices but they have Iranian samosas (filled with onion and cabbage curry), and samosa chaat (with chickpeas, onion, tomato, and mint).

What is it: Usually a semicircle, and usually boiled, these are filled with cheese, ground meat, or sauerkraut.
Where can I get one: Polish Goodies, 8903 North Seventh Street.
Which type should I get: Potato and cheese, the classic, with a side of sauerkraut and sour cream.

What is it: A semicircle or circle pie, filled with sweet or savory, crimped shut and either baked or fried.
Where can I get one: AZ Food Crafters, 961 West Ray Road, Chandler
Which type should I get: “The Hot Brown” because it is fun to say and also because it's based on a famous Kentucky dish that has turkey, bacon, and a béchamel sauce. Or grab one of AZ Food Crafters' four breakfast hand pies — it’s like a breakfast burrito with more bread. It's an excellent hangover cure.

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Sarah Hurwitz

What is it: There are many variations of steamed buns — fluffy steamed bread that can be savory or sweet. In China they usually come in two varieties, one bigger that is for taking home and one smaller to eat in the restaurant. They also come in many shapes — circular, folded, pinched and even peach-shaped.
Where can I get one: Asahi Bakery, 6056 North 16th Street, or The Clever Koi, which has locations in Phoenix and Gilbert.
Which type should I get: Asahi has all the classic flavors, and I love a red bean bun; it kind of tastes like sweet potato. The Clever Koi puts a modern twist on Asian food; try the pork belly bun, served sandwich-style.

What is it: This traditional Mexican specialty involves creating a ground corn dough called masa, spreading it on the inside of a corn husk, and filling it with meat or cheese and chiles, before wrapping it up and steaming. The resulting dish is tender and springy.
Where can I get one: The Tamale Store, 13046 North Cave Creek Road
Which type should I get: You can't go wrong, no matter what you choose. The Tamale Store makes thick, half-pound bundles of corn masa generously stuffed with: melted Monterey Jack cheese and roasted poblanos; pork green chile; chicken mole; bean and cheese, and other specialties. They can be ordered ready to eat, straight out of the steamer, or taken frozen to-go to prepare at home.

What is it: It literally means windblown in French, to describe its lightness — but it is a cylinder of puff pastry filled with air, and a little bit of usually savory filling.
Where can I get one: This one may be harder to find than the others on the list. You can head out for a fancy dinner at Binkley’s, 2320 East Osborn Road, and hope the pear butter and chorizo vol-au-vent is on the menu. Or you can nag French Grocery, 5345 North Seventh Avenue, to start making one — and settle for their delicious ham and cheese croissant instead.

What is it: Empanar in Spanish means “to bread” and empanadas are just that — filling wrapped in a semicircle of dough.
Where can I get one: Republica Empanada, 204 East First Avenue, Mesa
Which type should I get: Achiote potato. Achiote is made of annatto, and besides being red it has kind of a sweet and peppery taste and is used a lot in Central and South American cooking. Republica Empanada has unique options too, like jalapeno popper, and Greek empanadas.

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Sarah Hurwitz

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