There was an office debate that verged on civil war about, well, isn’t pizza a form of pie?, and what about other forms and species of pie, such as pasties, empanadas, and calzones? Well?! So we came up with this placatory sidebar to defuse a revolt.
Latin American Empanada
Along with their array of tasty arepas, Viva Las Arepas (vivalasarepas.com) offers a variety of empanadas, all favorites of both the late-night and lunch crowds. The half moons of golden dough are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, small enough to be held in one hand and solid enough to be eaten on the go. The shredded chicken has a spicy-sweet balance to the seasonings, while the black bean and cheese is unexpectedly rich and savory, and both are augmented by a splash of Arepas’ tomatillo or creamy avocado sauce.
The big bomb of dough-wrapped dining is the calzone: It can be a day’s sustenance for one, a meal for two or an appetizer for four. New York Pizza & Pasta’s (newyorkpizzavegas.com) cheese calzone is a big-as-your-head crescent oozing with mozzarella and ricotta, accompanied by a chunky, garlicky tomato sauce. Boston Pizza’s (bostonpizzavegas.com) calzones come in a dozen flavors, as well as a make-your-own. Ham is a simple Italian grandma classic; other calzones are stuffed to bursting with meatballs, salami, peppers, onions — any combination that requires six napkins to eat.
You can spend hours perusing the many buns, pastries, pies, cakes, and rolls of Chinatown’s bakeries. At Diamond Bakery (diamondcakes.com), the choices range from the delicately lovely coconut butterfly pastry to the disconcertingly weighty preserved egg pie. The BBQ pork bun has a filling of tangy, bright-red meat inside pillowy dough, while baked chicken or ham and cheese offer more low-key flavors fit for breakfast or lunch. At Sunville Bakery, customers peruse rows of cellophane-wrapped baked goods, stacking cafeteria-style plastic trays with their choices. The corn and ham pastry is a puff of sweet dough with a scoop of corn kernels and chopped ham in the center, fine for lunch or breakfast, while the meat pastry is dotted with sesame seeds and filled with shredded beef.
Paradise Place (7365 W. Sahara Ave., 702-834-8188) serves some of the finest Jamaican food in town (those jerk wings) and elevates the beef patty above the frozen version found in grocery stores and pizza joints. There are meat, chicken, vegetarian, and seafood versions, each with its own flavor profile from dough to spice. A sunset-colored flaky crust
surrounds a smooth filling of curried chicken; and the beef patty is a slow-cooked classic.
Downtown’s Jammyland (jammy.land) also has solid entries in the patty game, with a beef version in turmeric-spiced pastry and a vegetable patty that changes with the seasons.
Cornish Pasty (cornishpastyco.com) pays homage to the United Kingdom with Guinness on tap, the Clash on the sound system and, of course, pastys. Pastys are rather like oversized turnovers stuffed with a dinner plate’s worth of flavors — the crust is flaky on the outside and fluffy on the inside, embellished with a crown-like twist. The Oggie is stuffed with steak, potato, and rutabaga and topped with red wine gravy — rib-sticking comfort food. There are other traditional pastys with pot roast or lamb, but also some featuring Cuban, Mexican, and Southwestern flavors, the most fun being the Royale With Cheese, a pasty stuffed with ground beef, French fries, cheese, and bacon. It’s like eating an entire fast food combo in every bite, except it’s actually delicious.