Empanadas: A Multicultural Dumpling Fusion

Located in Campbell, Best Artisan Empanadas Cafe is a multigenerational South American-style empanada restaurant, run by Ernesto May and daughter Stephanie Solorio. At BAE Cafe, empanadas (Spanish and Latin American pastry crescents traditionally filled with beef or chicken) are made with Peruvian-style dough and multicultural fusion-inspired fillings like Mediterranean and Italian. 

The following is a Q&A with May and Solorio, edited for clarity. 


What was the inspiration behind BAE Cafe?

EM: I wanted to do something a little bit different. There are so many hamburger places, so many taco places, and so many sandwich places; it’s going to be very difficult to compete with one of these places… [but] there’s no place that actually specializes in empanadas. We were trying to find something unique. 


Where did you learn how to make empanadas?

EM: My mother. The recipe for the dough [used at the cafe] is the recipe that my mother taught me. She also loved cooking, and she introduced [me] to cooking [when I was] very, very young. 


What was it like starting BAE Cafe?

EM: It was taking a leap of faith, just believing in something and going for it and working hard. I [was] studying computer science because I was thinking about the money, and look at me now. I’m doing something that I’m passionate about. I don’t regret it. I love it. I wish somebody had told me to do whatever you want, and instead of studying computer science, I would have gone into culinary. But you know what, it’s never too late. I’m here. 


What inspired the fusion element of your fillings?

EM: Throughout the years where I worked at different places, I always learned something new. Whether it was an Italian restaurant, Chinese food, or Mexican, I learned something. We’re always trying to innovate and trying to say “Okay, can we do an empanada with a little bit of a different culture flavor?”

SS: I wanted empanadas [to be] a gateway to other cultures. I [always] love hearing people say, “Oh, I grew up eating something similar like this.” That’s what I look forward to when people eat empanadas, that connection to their culture. We visited BAE Cafe to test out their empanadas for ourselves. Here are our reviews:


We visited BAE Cafe to test out their empanadas for ourselves. Here are our reviews:

KA: I had the traditional beef empanada, which was filled with meat, onions, olives, and raisins. While I am not the biggest fan of raisins, I liked how their sweetness offset the savory flavors of the meat and onions while complimenting the flaky dough. However, my absolute favorite part of it was the chimichurri, a parsley garlic oil sauce which, when eaten with the empanada, added tangy pizzazz; if I could only use one sauce for the rest of my life, it would be BAE Cafe’s chimichurri sauce!

SH: The empanada that I chose was the chicken cilantro empanada, which was pretty cool and tasty. To be honest, I don’t really remember what was in it, but there was definitely a lot of chicken and cilantro! There was a bit of pepper and onion fusion as well, which ultimately synthesized into a very unique, savory taste. The sauce that I was given to pair with the empanada was the perfect blend of sweet and sour — think the Sweet n’ Sour Sauce from McDonald’s, but better. On the side, I had fried potatoes, which were soft with crunchy outer shells. And besides just the food, I really enjoyed spending time with Sally, Karina, and Sophia Y. (not genuine). I’d definitely go to BAE Cafe again!

SK: I made the BEST choice with the Mediterranean empanada — a crispy, crunchy, saucy blob of perfection! Shocking me with some surprising but gladly welcomed olives, this cheesy and savory flavored dough wrap was perfectly accented with a cool, minty Greek Tzatziki sauce that was maybe even better than the one my mom makes — sorry, mom! Still hot and toasty from the oven, this zesty empanada warmed my stomach and soul on a stormy day. I will be returning to the BAE Cafe and ravenously tasting every one of their different kinds of empanadas soon. 

SY: My order was the chicken mushroom empanada, which was crunchy, toasted, and filled with a creamy chicken mushroom filling that was reminiscent of Italian recipes. It was warm and perfect for a cold, rainy day. I had my empanada with tzatziki sauce. The cold, tangy sauce with the hot, salty empanada made for a delicious combination. I also had the peach and blueberry empanada, which was really interesting because I’ve never had a sweet empanada. I thought it was really yummy and sort of like a little handheld pie. It was also served warm, with gooey peaches and blueberries inside. I thought it would’ve been amazing with some vanilla ice cream. Overall, a 10/10 experience and I would highly recommend BAE Cafe!


Visit the BAE Cafe at 533 E Campbell Ave, CA 95008 or online at BAE Cafe.