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Pikalo in JP: Dominicans Turn Out a Zillion Kinds of Empanadas, Quippes, Plantain Sandwiches etc.

opinionatedchef | May 9, 201509:30 PM

Thx to CH dchow and EaterBoston, today we took out a large sampling of menu items from the brand new Pikalo at 378 Centre St., JP. (Last year, on the way out of Lawrence where we had done a CH crawl, we passed the original [still there] Pikalo because I saw their big 'Empanadas' sign, so we abruptly pulled over and investigated. I think they were out of alot of items, so i don't remember trying anything there [or if we did, it wasn't memorable.])

In their new JP spot , owner Jose was expediting the kitchen crew, and the counter woman was lovely and spoke good English. Very friendly and welcoming atmosphere and this corner joint was JUMPIN'!
No heated cases, no heat lamps; everything is made/cooked to order, so it can take awhile for larger orders like mine. But small orders were ready quickly. Maybe 15-20 seats including cafe tables and window counters. Sunny, bright, colorful. Close 9pm daily except 5pm Sundays.

No website that i could find, but in-house signing is excellent- clean bold text on wall chalkboards. Well designed laminated menu cards to take with you or peruse while you're waiting.

Smoothie and Juices menu is long; we had tasty Stwberry Banana Smoothie and Passion Fruit Smoothie, but AFAIK, there was no yoghurt present. Maybe iced cream or whipped cream made for the thick foaminess clinging to the glass sides. IIRC, the Lawrence store serves a number of unusual 'grains in tropical juices' for onthego breakfast items, but i don't know if they are offering them here.

Empanadas are deep fried 6-7" crescents and have good amounts of filling. Our fav types were :
Shredded Beef (Ropas de Viejas); Chicken, Cheese and Corn; and Salt Cod. Herbs and Spices are really not present other than S&P and maybe "Saison". The only spiciness that we had was from cayenne in the cubed Buffalo Chicken filling. There are many many empanada varieties, (incl. Vegtrn.) Spinach and cheese; Four cheese; eggplant parm; veggie; shrimp; conch; crab; etcetcetc.

It took me awhile, but I finally figured out that their Quippe...is....Kibbeh. The large football shaped Beef Quippe was delicious ( and eating bulghur felt much more virtuous than deep fried dough!) The older man next to me really enjoyed his Plantain (instead of bread) beef sandwich.
Made a note to myself to get one of those next visit.

Dessert-- if you love rich and creamy, make sure you get some Natillas, $2 (!) cups of rich eggy custard with a plum topping. Looking like a tall cup of chocolate milk, Bean Pudding is another of their unusual sweets. It has the consistency of a smoothie and has chunks of some starchy vegetable and raisins. Cold and refreshing. Coconut flan has a deep caramel/dulce de leche flavor and is very dense and creamy. On the counter they have boxes of little sweet empanadas filled with fruit.

Look forward to hearing more reports, and hope you find some things you really enjoy.

Pikalo,
Pikalo Empanadas,
Planet Smoothie
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