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An ode to an empanada

Sometimes I just want an empanada.

You know, that craving when you want bread and cheese, but you don't want a regular hoagie?

It's a hankering I get when I want a sandwich-like item with decidedly more cheese and either fried to a golden brown crisp or slathered with butter and baked (still) to a golden brown crisp.

In those moments, I turn to the Continental, 428 E. Locust Ave.

The menu at this East Village jazz-focused cocktail bar features lots of sandwiches, salads replete with fancier ingredients and a set of crunchy crostinis (basically sumptuous bruschetta pieces).

All are good choices. As of yet, I haven't come across an item I didn't enjoy, but, in my humble opinion, the best thing on the menu is...(wait for it)...the empanada.

The cheese and olive empanadillas, as they are called on the menu, feature a buttery crust so perfectly baked that small flakes peel off onto your hand. (No matter, just lick them up.)

The stuffing, made with kalamata olives and Spanish manchego cheese, is tangy and a bit on the salty side, a perfect pairing for a nice Manhattan or a cold brewski. And the overflowing cheese adds heft and just a bit of creaminess to the snack-sized handheld.

Really, it's the perfect fill-me-up-but-dont-make-me-sick food for a night of (heavy) drinking in the East Village.

Got other suggestions for empanadas in Des Moines? Let me hear 'em at

Get it...

Cheese and olive empanadillas at the Continental, 428 East Locust Ave.