I did a quick search, and I don't know that either of these places have been posted about yet. I don't really have too much information.
First, is Cuenca's Panaderia y Pasteleria, a very humble looking storefront on Irving Park, just west of Elston. What caught my eye was, coming back from Tony's Finer Foods (a grocery store I highly recommend, by the way), an Ecuadorian flag in a window. It turns out Cuenca's wraps all around the triangular corner and fronts Elston as well, though you can't use that entrance and the windows are all papered so you can't see inside. Inside were two tall cases with rolls, pastries, and cookies, maybe 20 varieties in all. I asked the man behind the counter if the place was indeed Ecuadorian (he said it was) and what the difference is between Ecuadorian and other South American pastries. This wasn't probably a fair question since I know almost nothing about South American pastries to begin with. I think he said something about them being less sweet than Mexican pastries--in any case, communication began to falter a bit and I was in a hurry, so I paid 50 cents for an empanada con queso and left. The business card says Cuenca's Bakery and "Our Specialty Wedding Cakes and all Occasions." The empanada I ate after heating in the microwave for 30 seconds. It was a sort of pillowy half circle with a radius of maybe 3 inches. The bread reminded me of the kind usually used for tortas (not those at Tortas USA) but it was markedly better. The center was hollowed out and after eating about half of it I saw a dried former puddle of cheese in the middle, maybe half an inch across. Overall, I wasn't crazy about it and it certainly wasn't what I expected from something called an empanada and was unlike any I'd ever seen--it looked just like pillow-shaped bread, no crimping. Cuerca, by the way, is the Ecuadorian city from which the proprietors of Mi Ciudad (a bit further east on Irving Park--no board reports as far as I can tell) hail, according to RST.
As I was leaving, I noticed directly across the street a place called Latin Sandwich Shop. Letters on the window advertised Steak Sandwiches, Empanadas, Espresso, Cappucino. I believe this place used to be El Torero, and only very briefly (6 months, maybe?) because I think El Torero was somewhere else around this corner before moving in. Anyway, the place was closed, but I'll have to check it out some other time.
While I'm on this corner, I might as well mention C. Manny's, a Mexican place on Irving Park that has also opened within the past year. Looks a little bit more upscale, with expensive signage, than your typical family-run Mexican establishment in this area, and they advertise their margaritas in neon in the window. Haven't tried it yet either.
Cuenca's Panaderia y Pasteleria (Cuenca's Bakery)
3658 W. Irving Park Road
Latin Sandwich Shop
4009 N. Elston Avenue
3641 W. Irving Park Road
(I just Googled C. Manny's and found that it too just moved to the new location and was formerly nearby on Elston. I am linking to a short description/review by Andrew Comen, of whom I have never before heard.)
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