They’re a common food in several Latin countries, including Colombia, Puerto Rico, and Mexico, but empanadas are made a bit differently in Argentina. “We have an edge because we actually bake them,” Nicolás Ibarzabal, co-owner of 5411, told the Decider in 2009. ”Here in Chicago there are a couple of places that offer empanadas, but they’re pretty much all deep-fried. We like to think of ourselves as the new healthy frontier of empanadas.”
Along with pals and fellow Buenos Aires natives Mariano Lanfranconi and Andrés Arlia, Ibarzabal makes the flaky baked treats in nearly a dozen varieties. You’ll find traditional hand-cut beef empanadas as well as Americanized versions including barbecue chicken, which Ibarzabal admits is one of his favorites despite chuckles from his Argentine friends. The trio started 5411—a mash-up of Argentina’s country code, 54, and Buenos Aires’s city code, 11—in 2009 as a catering company before rolling out a food truck and finally opening a shop in Lakeview. That shop makes deliveries by the dozen, and the same pale-blue food truck—perhaps the catalyst for 5411’s success—still takes to the streets daily, urging office dwellers to emerge from their cubicles and horses to escape from their buggies.