What: The Peruanas empanada
Where: Mi Cultura, 44795 San Pablo Ave., Palm Desert
How much: $2.50 for one, $12 for six
Contact: 760-636-1707; www.miculturacuisine.com
Why: The depth of flavor.
I was running errands early on a Sunday afternoon, and I was hungry. As I made a drop-off in the San Pablo area of Palm Desert, I realized exactly where I wanted to go to quench said hunger: Mi Cultura.
I’d been there once before, not long after the start of 2021, with my friend Debra. I loved everything we had—yet I hadn’t been back since. It was time to change that.
In a small shopping center that also includes The Real Italian Deli and a coin laundry, Mi Cultura serves up all sorts of delicious Peruvian and Colombian fare, from empanadas to ceviches to tallarin (stir-fried noodle) dishes to saltados (stir-fried meat) entrées to rotisserie chicken and beyond. I chose to order a Peruanas empanada ($2.50) and the aguadito (a rice, chicken and cilantro soup, $3.50-$6.50), as well as the mixto ceviche (fish, shrimp, mussels and calamari; $19).
Everything I ordered was endorsement-worthy. The aguadito was magical, melding savory (chicken) and fresh (cilantro) flavors. The mixto ceviche was delicious, if perhaps slightly heavy on the onions. But the bites I kept thinking of over and over again on my drive home came from the empanada.
Mi Cultura offers three types of empanadas: Colombianas (with beef, potato, cilantro and green onion); queso (with cheese and chives); and my choice, the Peruanas (with either shredded chicken or beef, bell peppers, green olives and boiled egg; I chose the beef).
Mmmm. It had everything one could possibly desire in a savory hand pie—meatiness, saltiness, earthiness and spice.
My only regret is that I ordered just one—and that I didn’t get a whole other dozen to go.