Empañadas. Half-moon-shaped dumplings filled with beef, chicken, pork or cheese, then deep-fried until golden and crisp. Do I have your attention now?
This is how it happens. I’m driving someplace, and something catches my eye related to food, and I practically swerve off the road. It’s an argument that goes on between my stomach and my brain in nano seconds. This is why I made a bumper sticker to put on my car that literally says, “Caution: I brake for local food.” I really do.
I was driving down Broad Street in Quakertown on my way to an appointment and I saw this huge sign – “Empañadas Argentinas.” Really? In Quakertown? (Don’t give me a hard time; I know Q’town has acquired some diversity in past years, including a Mexican restaurant/market, but Argentina?) I nearly hit the brakes but my brain won this one and I promised my stomach we would stop on the way home for lunch.
Bochi’s Homemade Food could easily be missed were it not for the large empañada sign. It looks like an ordinary hamburger stand, with picnic tables out front, and an awning over the order windows. At 5th and Broad, it sits right next to Pep’s Ice Cream stand (used to be a Rita’s). After ordering one of the specials – 3 empañadas plus a can of soda for $4 – I leaned into the window and got chatting with one of the owners. Forgive me for not getting her name; her English was as spotty as my high-school Spanish. I did discover that she and her husband are recent immigrants from Argentina, come to Bucks County to be with their daughter, their only child, and a new grandchild.
The menu is a mixture of (North) American food and South American specialties like flan, tartas and a Milanesa sandwich, an Argentinian version of breaded veal (think schnitzel or veal francese). Ah, and the empañadas. They come with almost a dozen different fillings to choose from: Beef, Spicy Beef, Ham and Cheese (mozzarella and provolone), Cheese and Onions (mozzarella), Chicken, Spicy Chicken, BBQ Pork (and provolone), Hot dog (with cheese!), Corn, Vegetarian (spinach, ricotta), and Tuna. Each is only $1.25 but it pays to do one of the specials. Having a party? Get 18 empañadas and 6 sodas for $22.
The “American” side of the menu offers burgers, steak sandwiches, subs and standard Italian-American fare: meatball parm, veal parm, Italian sausage sandwiches as well as pasta like spaghetti, tortellini, raviolis, and gnocchi all with homemade tomato or Alfredo sauce. They also offer sides of fries, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and salads.
But back to the empañadas. I ordered three – the spicy beef, BBQ pork and corn. The spicy beef is a combination of beef pieces, salted onions, red peppers, egg and seasoning. The BBQ pork – my favorite so far – oozed with provolone cheese and pork mixed with spicy BBQ sauce. Yum. The corn was really interesting, but not spicy like the others. They mix yellow corn with a creamy parmesan cheese sauce, onions and scallions. I was very happy sitting in my car, munching away and burning my tongue because I was eating too fast. After polishing off the three I was very tempted to order a few more to suck down. But I was good. I thought of my poor husband, working hard, and ordered three more to take home.
So the next time you’re in the Quakertown area – or even if you’re not – swing by Bochi’s and get some empañadas. But if you do, be sure to pick up a few more to bring home to those less fortunate.
Bochi’s Homemade Food
500 West Broad St.
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