When I heard 5411 Empanadas was set to open a new location less than five minutes from campus, I knew I had to stop by. Tucked into a small storefront on Davis Street, the Evanston locale of 5411 Empanadas started serving customers on May 7th after a decade of catering to the Chicago community. 

Grace Wang

Upon entering the shop, the smell of warm and crispy pastries baking to perfection pulled me further in. Freshly prepared fillings range from savory to sweet; BBQ Chicken, Ham & Cheese and Bacon, Dates and Goat Cheese are among popular favorites and Banana Nutella is sure to satisfy any dessert craving. 5411 offers an array of vegetarian options including Sweet Corn, Ratatouille and Caramelized Onion and their Impossible pocket is completely plant-based.

Evanston manager Leticia Perez said 5411 takes pride in the quality of their empanadas and the ingredients they use. Their made-to-order mantra ensures a delicious and fresh experience every time. 

Grace Wang

“We bake everything to order,” Perez said. “From creating the flavors, to putting the empanada together, to baking and performing quality checks, we want every bite to taste the same.”

As of right now, the menu features 16 different empanada fillings, each carefully crafted to with its own complex flavor profile. The relatively small empanadas — I finished mine off in a few bites — makes it easy to try multiple combinations with friends and family. Perez said the shared eating experience encourages people to connect and enjoy each other’s company.

“I think empanadas were created to bring people together as a family,” Perez said. “We look forward to sharing the empanada with new people and new communities in Evanston.”

Perez chose a few of 5411’s best-sellers for me to sample, and let me tell you, I was impressed. 

Spinach & Cheese

A classic flavor combination, the Spinach and Cheese empanada did not disappoint. The mozzarella delicately stretched apart with each bite and the greens and diced onion kept the pocket light and airy. The béchamel sauce made in-house brought all the components together. A pair found in many cultures from Spanakopita to tortellini, Spinach and Cheese proves that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Sometimes simple is best.

Grace Wang

Bacon, Dates and Goat Cheese

I never would have thought to find dates in an empanada, but in a meld of savory and sweet, the addition worked beautifully. The bacon contributed a necessary saltiness which cut through the sweetness of the dried fruit and the goat cheese made for a creamy finish. Deemed one of Perez’s favorite flavors, I’d definitely give the Bacon, Date and Goat Cheese combo the distinct honor of a “must-try” empanada at 5411.

Grace Wang

Mushroom, Thyme and Blue Cheese

Not the biggest fan of blue cheese, I had my doubts for this one, but the blue cheese isn’t overpowering. Instead, the mushrooms steal the show. Sauteed in garlic butter and bursting from the sides of the empanada, the mushrooms made it messy — but oh-so worth it.

Grace Wang

Malbec Beef (in the middle)

Grace Wang

The shredded beef quite literally melted in my mouth. Slow roasted in a red wine reduction with onions, carrots and rosemary, the malbec beef empanada left me mal-bec(koning) for more.

Aside from their delicious pockets, 5411 also offers alfajores — dulce de leche filling sandwiched between two shortbread cookies, rolled in coconut shavings. The dessert can be enjoyed plain or covered in dark chocolate. Side sauces like the store’s chimichurri and Red Hot roasted jalapeño sauce are available for purchase, and 5411 ships their frozen empanadas to 17 states across the country. 

Alongside these, 5411 also carries mac and cheese, chicken curry and banana nutella empanadas — just to name a few of their more interesting options. Perez said customers can expect to see limited-time and seasonal flavors in the future as well. 5411 constantly experiments with new ingredients, she said.

I, for one, plan to make my way through the entire menu. With an espresso bar too, 5411 provides the perfect college student pick-me-up: carbs and coffee.