Dulce Bakery and Empanada Shop, Fairfax

After picking up Matt from hanging out with his friends, he said he was hungry (it was around 4 PM), so I asked him if he wanted dinner, or a snack – he waffled, so I pulled into a parking lot, and asked, “dinner at Saba, or a snack at Dulce Bakery and Empanada Shop?” A snack it was, although it turned out to be a pretty burly snack.

We originally went in for a couple of empanadas, but I also wanted to try a salteña. Normally $3 each, you can get two, plus a can of soda, for $6, so we went with a Cheese Empanada + Chorizo Empanada + Diet Coke ($6), and Two Chicken Salteñas + Diet Coke ($6), got them to go, and after about ten minutes, they were ready.

Eating the salteñas in the car, I warned Matt about possible drippage, and wow, was this warning appropriate. I’ve had juicy salteñas before, but never anything like these. If you turned them, point down, I’d say they were nearly one-third full with broth, and both of us paid a dear price once we got about halfway into them.

I’m a little surprised these owners are Bolivian because these salteñas were not quite like any I’ve had. I was grateful that they used dark-meat chicken, but there was no olive (pitted or otherwise), and no egg; just chicken, peas, potatoes – essentially a chicken stew, most likely ladled into the salteña with a lot of juice. The pastry crust was somewhat granular (think shortbread, not croissant), dark in color, and sweeter than normal; the stew used dried, powdered spices that tasted a little cheap (like chili powder), and these salteñas were merely “good,” not great.

The empanadas had a slightly more appealing crust, but still had that granularity thing going on Рthe chorizo was pretty well loaded with what almost looked like sloppy Joe meat, and the cheese was Queso Fresco-like with good saltiness and a nice little tang on the finish. I preferred the empanadas to the salte̱as, although not by much Рthey were both well-worth the price. As for the cans of Diet Coke Рthey found a home in my refrigerator for later consumption.

Employees at Dulce are extremely nice, clearly Latino, and putting out a product with love, even if it isn’t the Best In Class. Note that they also provide wedding cakes (with enough notice), and have a display case full of interesting treats, including blueberry empanadas. If it’s greatness you seek, you’ll not find it here, but there’s also nothing keeping me from returning.

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