Which Atlanta dish are we obsessed with this week?

On a chilly Friday night, Robin, a host at Lobby Bar & Bistro, warmly greeted me. Sometime between walking me to my table and water service, she recommended chicken empanadas from the menu. I smiled politely. I appreciated her suggestion, but had already reviewed the menu before my arrival. I was certain what I would order.

I was not there to try the chicken empanadas, but when a second person, Corinthian, a charming waitress, mentioned it, I ordered it as my starter. Maybe it'll be good, I thought. When the empanadas arrived, I noticed two things: the thick pastry crust was hand-made and topped with a generous portion of feta cheese, pico de gallo and chipotle ailo drizzle. And, the chicken empanadas were big. I sliced into one, took a bite, and realized I was wrong; I changed my mind about my dinner selection. The chicken empanadas were filled with shredded chicken, previously stewed with tomatoes, garlic, onions and chipotle. The meat was well seasoned; the empanadas fried to perfection; and they reminded me of my grandmother’s tasty cooking. It tasted homemade, if I dare say such a thing. But, I was sort of right. Chef Juan Carlos Huerta created this dish to honor his family’s history; it was a dish his mom used to cook.

All the menu planning I had done before hand went out the window. When Corinthian asked if I wanted anything else beside the chicken empanadas (I was also eating a large Caesar salad), I said no. What I wanted—and ordered—was another round of empanadas.

Since the chicken empanadas cost $10 and is available on the dinner menu, it’s worth a double order—one serving to eat in the restaurant and another to take home. For tomorrow.

Chicken empanadas, $10. Lobby Bar & Bistro, 361 17th St. N.W., Atlanta. 6:30-11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., everyday; 5:30-10 p.m., Sunday and Monday; 5:30-11 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday. 404-961-7370. www.lobbyattwelve.com/home.html

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