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One of 14th Street’s most iconic corner spots has finally found a suitable replacement after the sudden closure of Papaya Dog shocked the neighborhood.
Empanada Mama is a popular New York based empanada joint that serves traditional empanadas with a uniquely American flair. The restaurant was established in 2005 by owner Socrates Nanas, who founded the restaurant as a fool proof plan to feed the masses with big flavors in small packages. The menu, which offers a delightful array of over 40 different empanadas, was designed to hit a nostalgic nerve in the heart of their guests.
Featuring an assortment of arepas, tamales, veal and rice meatballs, and of course empanadas, Empanada Mama’s “something for everyone” philosophy makes the Latin empanada place a distinctly American joint. Influenced by Columbian cuisine, Empanada Mama channels the international culture of New York by offering a plethora of different empanada profiles, including Greek (spinach pie), Cuban (ham, pork and Cheese), Polish, (Kielbasa and sauerkraut), Hawaiian (ham, cheese, and pineapple, Italian (sausage, peppers, and onions) and American (cheeseburger).
Today, Empanada Mama boasts three different restaurant locations across Manhattan, occupying Hell’s Kitchen, Times Square, and the Lower East Side. Now though, Socrates has acquired a brand new location for Empanada Mama and will be bringing his signature creations to the East Village at 239 First Avenue, on the corner of 14th Street and First Avenue. The space was formerly home to Papaya Dog, an East Village legend that was notorious for its late night snacking options and had become something of a cult favorite amongst locals. Papaya Dog shut down suddenly last October with little warning, so devastated locals have been wondering for a while who would end up taking over the space.
Like Papaya Dog, Empanada Mama will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just as they have been doing for years in Hells Kitchen. According to Socrates, the new Empanada Mama will offer both to-go and sit down service, and will offer guests a much needed respite on the busy East Village thoroughfare. Socrates is hoping to have the new location operational by September. While you wait, you can check out their other locations or even order catering on-demand through the company’s website. You can also follow Empanada Mama on Instagram for regular updates on their progress on the new space.