Aires de Colombia in White Plains

It took me a year from the time I first wrote this restaurant in my notebook to when I actually tried it, but at least I got there.

I first noticed Aires de Colombia while driving around aimlessly looking for Empanadas during my Empanada trek last year. I took note of it, but just didn’t have a chance to try it.

I finally went for lunch today. I was alone so my samplings were small, but I was very pleased with my meal.

I started off with my must-have Colombian drink, guanabana con leche. Man, I love that drink. I was a bit cash poor today, so I ordered only a few empanadas, then an appetizer of chorizo that came with an arepa con queso.

empanada from aires colombia restaurant-1 I actually ordered two empanadas. One came out immediately and had obviously been fried before I got there. It was still very good – a fat four-inch half moon with a crunchy orange crust, filled full of beef and some potato. And unlike so many Colombian empanadas, Aires’ empanada filling had a very high meat-to-potato ratio. When the second empanada came out – freshly fried, it was that much better. A great texture to the crackling crisp orange corn-based dough. At $1 each, you could easily leave there dropping only $2 for empanadas and feel satisfied.

choriz con arepa y queso with empanada at aires colombia-1 The chorizo and arepa came next ($3). Nice sausage. Lots of flavor, a bit of a spicy kick even, in what seemed to be a natural casing. All in all, quite pleasant, if not extraordinary. Similarly, the arepa was quite good. As is typical with Colombian arepas, it came flat , sprinkled with queso fresco. The arepa had a nice slight char on the outside from the griddle, but, importantly, inside it was pillowy soft with a a strong corn/hominy flavor and aroma once you bite into it. Coupled with the quite piquant vinegary salsa they offer, it was a good meal. Including the guanabana con leche, which was $3, my meal set me back $10.

It’s a nice addition to the long list of Colombian restaurants in Westchester.

Aires de Colombia Restaurant
64 W. Post Road,
White Plains, NY


Finally, my empanada expedition is complete (sort of)

After more than two months of stringing together lunch hours and stealing away for random “errands” as much as possible, I feel I’ve finally tried enough places to put together a somewhat comprehensive guide to empanadas in Westchester County. One thing I’ve learned though is that as much as I might try, this list isn’t totally comprehensive. It seems like every day I find another place worth exploring. So rather than putting up a new blog post every time I find a new place, I’ve instead created a whole new page that can be updated at will. Here it is: The Empanada Lover’s Guide to Westchester County, complete with a detailed description of every place I tried, ranked by one, two or three stars, as well as a color-coded Google map showing all the locations.

My hope is that as I – or any of you – find new places I’ll continue to update this list. Just leave comments here or on that page if you have any suggestions, additions or edits. Your input will make it much more complete.

So, head over to that page to check out the complete list.

On this post I just want to share some overall impressions. First, the good news is that you can find some great empanadas here in Westchester county, spanning varieties from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Paraguay and Uruguay. Not many places around the country can boast that kind of variety. In short, there are a lot of very good, very traditional, very diverse empanadas to be eaten in Westchester.

The biggest difference in quality from place to place was whether or not they made their empanadas on site, and whether you could easily order them freshly made. You simply can’t beat freshly made empanadas. Only a short amount of time separates great empanadas from mediocrity. So, of the places I’ve listed, only those who made them freshly (fried or baked) got three stars.

Now, I have to be totally honest. Looking back on all the places I tried, I’m still left wanting. It isn’t that I didn’t find great empanadas here and there. But I still feel like we can do better. I guess I feel like I still haven’t found the absolute empanada nirvana here. Maybe nostalgic feelings of meals with many South American friends in Australia and great food I’ve had in Buenos Aires, creates a bar impossible to reach.  Maybe I’m chasing something unattainable? But whatever the case, it’s good motivation for me to keep looking.

So, I hope you enjoy the list. And please, be sure to let me know if I’ve missed any places and your impressions of any of the ones you’ve already tried.


At the top of my to-do list

I’ve been on a Port Chester binge lately. And in delving deeper into PC goodness, I’ve been tripping over some new places that I’m dying to try. If only I didn’t have pesky work (or limited cash), I’d try them today. But in the meantime, here are the three places now at the top of my to do list:

  1. Rancho Grande, 8 Poningo Street, Port Chester, NY
    This is a little Mexican place that always seems so lonely I feel guilty not going in and trying it out. Every time I pass by, one of the owners is peering out the window like a puppy dog waiting for an owner. If for no other reason than to absolve myself of guilt, I need to try this place.
  2. Aqui es Santa Fe Cafe, 32 Broad Street, Port Chester, NY 10573 (914) 305 1060
    IMG00008-20081204-1323
    I wrote up more about this place here on Chowhound, but, briefly, it’s a nice, cozy little place for which I’m holding out a lot of promise.
  3. Keylee’s Restaurant, 11 Pearl St., Port Chester, NY
    Keylee's Guatemalteco Restaurant
    I snapped this photo as a friend and I drove down to Rinconcito MigueleƱo. I have no idea how long this has been around, but any place that references “guatemalteco” food is worth noticing. I’m hoping for some great hand-made tortillas. Here’s hoping.

So many places, so little time…


Mapping the best Latin food in Port Chester

I’ve decided to start using Google Maps much more to visually lay out the best food around. I’ll probably do this by topic and by location. So, first on the docket is charting all the good Latin restaurants in Port Chester. Here’s a start. This map will grow as I get around to loading it up with all the places I’ve been to. Right now, this represents about half of the places I’ve been to in PC.


Corelli’s Pastry in Stamford: Italian turned Colombian turned Haitian

Has anyone been to this place on Stillwater in Stamford recently? I spoke to a good Haitian friend who said that the place is now a split Colombian/Haitian restaurant.

Apparently, the Colombian owners (who, presumably, had bought it from the Italian owners a few years ago) sold half the joint and now they have two menus – one Colombian, one Haitian. I asked if they had the same folks cooking both foods and apparently they have two kitchen staffs too (a good thing). So you can go in and order either Colombian or Haitian. I remember the bakery part of the Colombian was quite good. I’m glad it’s still around.

Anyone been recently? I need to check it out. Apparently the griot and goat curries are very good. I’m excited for some good Haitian food. Lacaye really wasn’t all that good for the past few years.

Now that it’s gone from Italian to Colombian to Colombian and Haitian, I wonder when they’ll actually change the name??? Although, I guess that adds to the charm…

Corelli’s Pastry Shop
166 Stillwater Ave,
Stamford, CT
(203) 348-0686

[Originally posted on Chowhound]