Hell’s Kitchen has a new empanada eatery — in a place where the city’s finest falafels used to be served.
“In a world where our dearly loved restaurants are disappearing, there is a bright light. On W51st Street, in place of everyone’s beloved Azuri, is an empanada and more store —Seguidilla Empanadas,” shared W42ST reader, Carole Robbins.
Adam Piron and Zoralie Gabriel Cruz opened Seguidilla Empanadas yesterday, between 9th and 10th Avenue. Carole was the first to tell us about the place, saying: “Have you ever tasted a Dominican empanada made of Yucca for a shell? Do it.”
Adam told us they “want to imitate the street food experience of the Dominican Republic and bring it to Hell’s Kitchen.” They make dough for the empanadas in-store and are proud of their gluten-free Catibias. “Empanadas are typically made with flour or corn. In the Dominican Republic, wheat’s not prevalent so we use cassava for our catibias,” he explained.
The couple took over the lease just before the pandemic. The store had been vacant since Azuri closed back in January 2019. Progress on renovation has been slow, but they are delighted to be open now.
Adam revealed that there’s a strong connection to Hell’s Kitchen. Along the block on W51st Street their family own Zoralie. “That’s more of a lunch and dinner spot — we are grab and go and snacks,” he said. The family started Zoralie after “being the waiters and delivery boys at El Papasito Restaurant on W53rd Street. They were able to save up enough and accomplish their dreams.”
The smiles of the young couple (who are expecting their first child, a boy, in two months) are a sharp contrast to the previous occupant. W42ST food writer, Ziggy, wrote in October 2016 about how he loved Ezra Cohen’s Azuri Cafe falafel but was afraid of his stare! “Ezra makes the Soup Nazi look like Mother Teresa. August 12, 2013, Ezra’s last smile is one of a handful of dates I remember. The others are family birthdays. When I once realized I only had a $100 bill and a credit card after I ordered my shawarma sandwich, I didn’t sleep for a week. All he did was stare. You are just another annoying distraction to him and his legendary falafel making routine. No one in Hell’s Kitchen makes them better.”