Random PoP Proclamation: The SALTEñAS are the Best

by Prince Of Petworth January 11, 2017 at 10:05 pm 33 Comments

1221 Connecticut Ave, NW

Because they’ve been around for so long, I sometimes forget about their deliciousness. You can see Julia’s Empanadas full menu here. But make no mistake – the SALTEñAS are the best!

There are locations in Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle and Brightwood.


  • Yes, yes, yes!!!

  • Chicken

    I grew up eating empanadas from various different latin american countries and was quite disappointed when I tried these. I tried them a few more times – but were just plain awful. I used to eat Julia’s empanadas before she had a store and they were better.

    • TX2DC

      +1 I don’t get the fuss.

    • MadMax

      Agreed. Frankly I think they’re terrible and almost always undercooked. I just stopped going. I much prefer the (fried) version that DC Empanadas does, glad to see them doing well enough to open an actual storefront soon.

    • Diane

      Totally agree. The Adam’s Morgan location was not good.

  • Los

    There’s a small kiosk in the station at the end of the silver line that serve actual salteñas…:Julia’s are awful and no self respecting Paceño would call them salteñas or go near them. Luzmilla, La Kantuta and Tutto Bene are better options, but well below par of what you can feel me in Bolivia

    • Melissa

      Admittedly have never tried…but that second photo resembles a salteña the way a bagel bite resembles a Neapolitan pizza. And unless they are using a dough different from their empanadas, ain’t the same thing. I desperately wish I could get Bolivian food IN DC (no car, VA is tough). Any tips for local sopa de mani???

    • That One Guy

      Sadly, Tutto closed down a number of years ago so it’s no longer an option.
      Any suggestions where to get api?

    • dcd

      Wait – are you suggesting that Bolivian food is better in Bolivia than in Washington DC? Without commenting on the quality of Julia’s, which I haven’t had in years, perhaps this standard is just a bit too high?

      • los

        No, I’m saying that other Bolivian food options in the DC area are head and shoulders above what Julia tries to pass as salteñas. As Melissa observed, Panas empanadas are closer to salteñas than anything on Julia’s menu.

        Las Kantutas and Luzmillas are ok, but would not sell back at home. The kiosk on the Wiehle-Reston stop could battle with the best at home. So I think my expectations are well calibrated

        • Anon

          “kiosk on the Wiehle-Reston stop” – naw, I’m good. But thanks.

    • Alison

      Is there another Tutto Bene? The one in Ballston closed a couple of years ago.

      I usually get mine from El Pike. These look way weird to me.

  • anon

    I’ve never understood the love for this place. My law school friends used to always want to get Julia’s in the mid-2000s and we”d go and I’d be disappointed every time. To each his own I guess.

  • Anon

    This is the only correct response. Saltenas are far superior to all other empanadas.

  • Tsar of Truxton

    I prefer the chileno.

  • neighbor

    The dough is not great for Julia’s. A few of the other local chains are decent, but don’t get it exactly right.
    Timber empanadas are amazing, if not exactly traditional (they use yeast risen dough).

  • Michael Pierce

    I like Julia’s, but nothing comes even close to those crispy, deep fried Cuban empanadas.

  • That One Guy

    Years ago, I swore off Julia’s after finding an egg shell in my salteña. I have been back a couple of times though.

  • SJ

    Actually, the Jamaican is their best offering. Less doughy too.
    Also love their posted commentary on their neighbor’ s silliness at the AM location.

  • AntiAlias

    I like Alexa’s empanada stand at Eastern Market. Preferably the beef & raisin ones, with a churro for desert.

  • Rich

    DC doesn’t do any kind of “vernacular” ethnic food very well—delis, pizza, you name it it tends to suck here or be difficult to find. Even before I had “real” empanadas, I knew these weren’t the real deal. the best I can say is that they are good for a change of pace, esp. from other substandard ethnic treats..

    • Anon

      I take it you haven’t tried Ethiopian?

    • MadMax

      I don’t completely disagree, but I think it’s really due to DC’s transient population that brings (mostly white) people from all over the country here. There are very few ethno-centric neighborhoods in this area, and even fewer gathering places for their culture/cuisine, outside of Eden Center and Little Ethiopia. Other cities have much larger population bases where the majority of people living in an area consist of one regional classification, and people who want to try those foods venture there to do so. The few “ethnic” spots we get in the District are usually someone trying to make something both whitewashed enough to fit this audience and also “authentic” enough not to piss off the Yelpers who think they know the cuisine.

      • Michael Pierce

        Also, just as an example, there’s no significant Italian-American culture here that’s been perfecting their pizza recipe for four generations. It’s being made mostly by immigrant entrepreneurs who may never have even known what a pizza was a few years ago. The same could be said for any number of ethnic cuisines.

        • Rich

          Except real Chicago pan pizza (developed by Greek-Americans) is far better than anything remotely similar here. Moreover, there are places where Italian-Americans make a lot of pizza for other Italian- Americans. DC’s local food scene is better than it was 20 years ago, overall, but what most people think of as ethnic generally still sucks, and a lot of popular places continue to be overrated and overpriced. The idea that Atlanta pizza generated so much excitement a few years ago when Mellow Mushroom came (and I’ve lived in ATL where Mellow Mushroom was sadly as good as it got) is just one of many examples.

  • Truxton Thomas

    I don’t want to live in a world in which it’s not OK to like Julia’s Empanadas. This is a reminder for me to stop by for a chileno and a veggie and not feel bad about enjoying them. Cheers.

  • kitty

    I’ve definitely had better, but I like Julia’s because we used to have so few dining options in DC. Julia’s makes me nostalgic for a different era–when we had fewer trendy things, but food was still cheap. Now we have a ton of trendy things and it all feels a little overpriced and overhyped.

  • Anonnn

    So many contrarians. Julia’s is great for the price and convenience.

  • marigold

    Nope, but try the strawberry cream cheese empanadas… yummmm

  • Mo

    First off, saltenas and empanadas are cousins at best – the saltena is a different food than pretty much all the other varieties of fried or baked varieties (like the dry chilean version).

    Saltenas are like eating stew in a turnover – they should be filled halfway with juice and fillings, and should be served with Bolivian hot sauce, llajwa. The places that pull this off the best in the area, from what I’ve seen, are in NoVa. Pike and Panamerican Bakery are good options. RIP Tutto Benne, that place had some great ones.

  • Brett M

    Not the best empanadas, but I do get the Jamaican ones from time to time.

    DC needs a good Dominican-style empanada joint.

  • bruno

    Always reliable, reasonably priced, and delicious.

  • DC_Chica

    I had a saltena at Llajtaymanta in Falls Church and I thought it was amazing (I was not impressed by my entree, which was the Pique Macho). I haven’t tried Julia’s yet (but I want to). As for Bolivian food generally, the silpancho at Kantutas in Wheaton is so good that I’ve never bothered ordering anything else.


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