The Tropical Rag Logo

Your weekly slice of island life.


Hello Key Biscayne!

Another issue on the wonders of eating in KB (spoiler: its not that wonderful). This time we ate way too many empanadas in way too little time. 丐

Key Biscayne beach Feb 2021The real pros go on the weekdays.

The rest of the issue is a slog but you gotta take the good with the bad.

News morsels

Told you so A few weeks ago we mentioned that a bit of a crackdown was coming by the Village and KBPD on little nuisance stuff like speeding, loud noise, etc. Now theyre here to tell us that its already working.

At a council meeting a week and a half ago we learned that nuisance complaints are on the way down, and that the KBPD has been busting little kids and then getting their obnoxious parents to show up to the scene and be embarrassed with them. Theres still some stuff happening, as attested by the Rags inbox full of complaints every week, but it seems like the crackdown is having its effect for now. Bake em away, toys.

(Islander News)

Get in line Theyre vaccinating something like 2-3000 seniors a day in Dade County, but if youre one of the chumps who still cant get a callback from any inoculation center theres some news for you.

The KBCF has been trying to secure slots and rides for seniors on the island, so give em a call, and the Herald has a comprehensive list of all the places offering the vaccine so you can be sure to get rejected at all of them.

(Miami Herald)

We ate every empanada on the island

My buddy James had an idea: lets eat all the empanadas on the island for the Rag. So we did just that, in about an hour and a half. In hindsight, maybe not such a great idea.

We went around midday and ate every single empanada we could find. Because theyre all so different in style, and availability is hit or miss, there isnt a baseline we could compare (like cheese pizza). You would think the baseline would be a beef empanada, but many places just didnt have them available. As such, theres no number ratings here, just comments.

Also, we took them as they were served and suggested. It wasnt our fault if at midday someone offered empanadas that were already getting mushy. Likewise, if they offered to heat them up, we took the offer.

Evaluation criteria: Price; flavor; pastry type; filling; presentation; variety.

Key metrics:
12 menus; 24 empanadas; ~8,000mg of salt.


7-11 empanadaCuban-style beef.

Price: $1.69

Picadillo-style filling was tasty.
Dry pastry had been in the hot-cab a little too long.

Summed up: Its not offensive and its a good style of empanada, its also cheaper than anything else here, but ultimately its not something you want to get. You may have different feelings about it drunk at 4am.


Novecento empanadasArgentine-style ham & cheese; beef.

Price: $5.75 but you gotta buy two.

The ham and cheese has a nice tang and a better pastry.
Very expensive. The pastry on the meat one gets a little tough on the edges.
Jimmy James liked the beef-stew filling; Rafa did not

Summed up: The ham and cheese is interesting enough to eat again, and they always come hot, but the pastry aint that great and with that price its hard not to feel like you got ripped off.

La Boulangerie

Le boulangerie empanadaBeef; chorizo & onion.

Price: $5.50

Beef one has a decent filling, flaky pastry, comes out hot.
Chorizo and onion is a nice taste but overwhelming for an empanada. Pastry is almost too crispy, like when you burn your toast but decide to eat it anyway and tell yourself its fine but you know its not.

Summed up: Would not seek it out, but you might be tempted to have one if youre already there, as long as you dont see the price.

Patagonia Nahuen

Patagonia empanadaArgentine-style Arabe; spicy beef.

Price: $2.99

They really nail it with the pastries here. Each one is not too soft, not too flaky, and buttery. Just right. The fillings are up there in taste and quality with the best of them.
Some of the fillings are an acquired taste. Not always hot, but not cold.

Summed up: Overall a top contender for everyday empanada, but you probably already knew that. Big J says that if you like lemon you have to get an Arabe every time.

Pita Pockets

pita Pockets empanadasCheese sambousek.

Price: $1.32 but you gotta buy 4

Comes right out of the fryer with a great texture and tasty filling. Its feta and mozzarella, and it had some herbs in there.
If you dont want four, youre out of luck. Mini-sized compared to others.

Summed up: Is a sumbousek an empanada? Weve decided it is. They come in cheese and meat varieties, but we only tried the cheese cause were dumb.

Mobil gas station

Mobil gas empanadaCuban-style beef.

Price: $2.50

Picadillo-style beef filling with a flaky pastry. Came warm right out of the little hot-cabinet.
A little dry.

Summed up: There are places on this island selling way worse empanadas for a lot more money. If you catch this one early in the day its a winner.

Golden Hog

Golden Hog empanadasColombian-style chicken; Argentine-style ham & cheese.

Price: $2.95

Chicken filling had a rich flavor with a tasty spice.
Barely warm. Colombian corn pastry was mushy. Ham and cheese was bland.

Summed up: Someone later told us that the Colombian-style was good here, but if its already mushy at lunch time, whats the point? Overall its just not the place.

The Empanada’s

The empanadas empanadasArgentine-style pumpkin; spicy beef.

Price: $3.20

The fillings here are all top notch, and they always come out hot.
The pastry is a bit dough-y in a bad way. Also, we dont need words on our food, thanks.
Jamo says the pumpkin filling was decent, Rafa didnt care for it. Who orders pumpkin anyway?

Summed up: Another top contender for everyday empanada. And they should be, with that name. The pastry leaves something to be desired though, even if the fillings are mostly great.


Panna empanadasGross; gross; gross; also gross.

Price: $1.65 – $2.99

We both literally gagged and spit out each of these.

Summed up: Get some really bad frozen pastry from the supermarket and dont reheat it right, and thats what these are. Amazing they could be so bad considering we waited ten minutes for them.


Artisan empanadaVenezuelen-style cheese; beef.

Price: $7.50 for a bunch of mini-empanadas.

A proper Venezuelan-style empanada. Just a hint of sweetness in the corn dough.
The beef ones left a bit to be desired.

Summed up: This is how you do a Venezuelan-style empanada, albeit in mini form.


Milanezza empanadaAgrentine-style beef.

Price: $3.50

Well cooked Argentine-style beef empanada, with a stew-like flavor.
The pastry is bland. It tastes like it came off an assembly line. It could use some salt or something.

Summed up: Its always hot, its decently priced, but it doesnt really hit any aspect out of the park.

Flour & Weirdoughs

Flour weirdoughs empanadasChicken; spinach.

Price: $3.95

Both fillings were good with the spinach taking the edge. Both styles of pastry are quality.
Came out half hot, half cold as they didnt heat it up right.

Summed up: The price is up there scraping the too-pricey ceiling, and the workers didnt know how to heat them up, but the foundation is solid.

Some thoughts
Dont be fooled by pastry presentation; some of the most visually pleasing are the lowest quality.

We were astonished by the number that were cold and soggy; equally astonished by the number that were dry and flavorless.

Biggest surprises
The sambousek from Pita Pockets, which was incredibly well textured and flavored.

Novecento is selling an empanada for 6 bucks.

Were usually wary of gas station food but the picadillo-style empanada at the Mobil station had really good flavor and texture. We were also surprised by how fresh it was considering the circumstances.

Best value
Runner-up: At $2.50 and for reasons stated above, the Mobil Gas Station.

Winner: At $2.99, Patagonias empanadas might be the best value of any dish at any restaurant on Key Biscayne.

Best all-around
Rafas runner-up: Patagonia has very good, buttery, empanadas at a great price.

Jimbos runner-up: The Empanadas had a very good showing but all things considered, Novecento was better, albeit at $2.00 more per empanada.

Rafas winner: That cheese and herb filling at Pita Pocket was the most sophisticated taste I had in this whole, gut-busting tour. Coupled with a good pastry, and it being cooked to order puts this one on top for me.

Jimbos winner: Patagonia Nahuen, by 1.60934 kilometers.

James “Big Jim Jimbo Jimmy J” contributed to this report.

Fine whines of KB

i guess i need to send my complaint in writing to the chief. I walked to my sidewalk to pick up a falling palm leaf & was almost struck by a speeding motorized bike/scooter. Not going there again. Who you or the motorized bike? If it is you who will not go again where is your freedom? When you go out around one expects peace and safe not going to a jungle full of wild creatures. i just sent an email to village about it so i suggest doing the same since they claim to not being aware of the problem. Anything that not involves raising salaries or benefits or increasing department budgets or raising taxes and fees is not a priority for the Village"You know where you are? You're in the jungle, baby."

Seen a humorous chat message somewhere? Send your fine whine to


Around Town

  • Saturday 2/20
  • 橘 Bust out the big league chew and sign up for baseball already (Around the island)

Last week's sales

Location SQFT Rooms Prev Price
Le Phare 57B 776 1/2 '15 $400k $350k
Sands 10B 1772 3/3 '07 $1.35m $1.735m
Casa del Mar 3E 1875 2/2 '98 $340k $918k
16 Turtle Walk 3990 6/7 '17 $2.55m $2.5m
KC III 437 1532 2/2 '03 $440k $650k
Oceana 201S 2361 3/4.5 '14 $2.9m $3.65m
Towers A405 1409 2/2 '77 $80k $490k
Oceana 502S 3354 3/5.5 '14 $4.95m $5.4m
KC IV 427 1600 3/2 '18 $840k $1.1m

Done did it

Did you like this? If you did, please forward it to your friends and tell them to subscribe at The Tropical Rag.

Read past issues in the archive.

Questions, comments, tips, or to plan our own food tour together , write to

If you liked this, sign up!

The Tropical Rag goes out every Thursday and has all you need to know about the going-ons of Key Biscayne. Sign up below and never miss an issue.

We don't sell your email to anyone. Read our privacy policy.