Gulfport Just Got a Little Tastier with Julio’s Empanadas

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Gulfport Just Got a Little Tastier with Julio’s Empanadas

Chef Julio Pagan Jr. has been slinging Latin favorites for years with his food truck, and recently went all in by opening two brick & mortar locations in 2023. The latest, Julio’s Empanadas, is at 2201 49th St S., Gulfport, FL 33707 at the corner of 22 Ave S. & 49 St S. in a former gas station. The parking is a little wonky, but it’s worth the navigational, please-don’t-hit-my-car-wincing effort. This spot opened in December 2023.

His other store is Julio’s Latin Twist, 7815 38th Ave N, St. Petersburg, FL 33710. It opened in July 2023, and has many similar items if you’re closer to that location in the Tyrone area.

If you already know what an empanada is, you can skip down to the next paragraph. Who doesn’t know what an empanada is? Apparently, my friend thought they were the same thing as enchiladas, but I think he was just kidding. However, it made me wonder if I might need to include this, so here goes. Empanadas are fried or baked pastries typically shaped like a crescent moon. You can also think of them as a large deep fried Asian dumpling about the size of your hand, but with pastry dough. They originated in Spain and Portugal in the 1500’s to be a hearty, but portable food. They were brought to Latin American by colonists, and are now considered more to be Latin American food than anything else here in the US.

I made two visits, both on a Wednesday, and Julio was right there manning the register, taking orders, and managing the staff and food simultaneously. Since it’s a former gas station, like many St. Pete restaurants, it’s nothing fancy – plastic trays with aluminum foil, paper napkins, but it’s all about the food here, and on that they deliver.

It’s not easy to find a good shot of the entire menu online as of this writing, so here you go.

Julio's Empanadas Menu (Photo: Mike Silverstein)
Julio’s Empanadas Menu (Photo: Mike Silverstein)

As you can see they have two sizes of empanadas – regular and grande. We got some of each. We tried most of them, some regular and some grande sized. We had six of the different empanadas, and they were all great. There is really nothing that could be done to improve them, and it’s hard to pick a favorite. They are all unctuous, hearty, crunchy, sweet & salty, and umami packed.

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Julio’s house-made Sweet Onion Sauce comes with each. The sauce is scrumptious, and even though it is sweet, it has a little bit of heat to it too. I like to eat half of the empanada without it, and the other half with. I had some left over and just poured it into my mouth. From online photos, it seems that the Tyrone area location has the sauce bottled for purchase. I’ll take a gallon jug, please!

Meatball Parmagiana Empanada
Meatball Parmagiana Empanada

 

Sausage and Peppers Empanada
Sausage and Peppers Empanada

 

Regular Size Empanada with Julio’s house-made Sweet Onion Sauce
Regular Size Empanada with Julio’s house-made Sweet Onion Sauce

 

Grande Empanadas
Grande Empanadas

 

Traditional Beef Empanada
Traditional Beef Empanada

 

Cuban Sandwich Empanada
Cuban Sandwich Empanada

 

Loaded Chorizo Empanada
Loaded Chorizo Empanada

 

Latin Specialties Display Case
Latin Specialties Display Case

 

Empanada Display Case
Empanada Display Case

 

Osso Bucco Braised Beef Empanada Grande
Osso Bucco Braised Beef Empanada Grande

 

Osso Bucco Braised Beef Empanada Inside
Osso Bucco Braised Beef Empanada Inside

 

Juilo's Counter
Juilo’s Counter

 

Julio's Cuban Sandwich
Julio’s Cuban Sandwich

The Cuban Sandwich has a couple of little twists for something different. Instead of dill pickles, it has sweet pickles, and it comes with a roasted jalapeño honey-mustard on the side, which seemed more like mayonnaise in texture and mouthfeel. (See below pic.) The sauce has a little kick. If taking a bite of a raw slice of jalapeño is like a slap on the back, the spiciness of this sauce is a gentle tap on the shoulder. The sandwich had great flavor, but was a little dry, which made the sauce a welcome addition. Overall, the Cuban sandwich was very good. It could be great if it had a little more yellow mustard, and was pressed with butter. A traditional Cuban has just mustard, but several places add mayo as well. I like it both ways.

MORE FOODIES READING  10 Best Cuban Sandwiches in St. Petersburg FL 2024
Roasted Jalapeño Honey Mustard
Roasted Jalapeño Honey Mustard

It seems like Julio’s Empanadas has a huge takeout business, and that a lot of people go for lunch, and then get more empanadas to take home for dinner or snacks. What a great idea!

Julio's Empanadas
  • Readers Rating
  • Rated 4.9 stars
    4.9 / 5 (17 )
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  • Julio's Empanadas
  • Empanadas, Sandwiches, Latin Cuisine
    • Mon - Sat 11:00am - 9:00pm
  • 2201 49th St S, Gulfport, FL 33707, US

DISCLAIMER: Kevin, Lori, Abby, Haley, Lindsey & Mahika do not dine anonymously (this would be impossible) and we sometimes get free food (though never expected). However, we dine with the locals and we support our own. You will always get honesty in a respectful manner. We do not include any large national or regional chains in our ratings and reviews. We focus on independent locally owned eateries exclusively.

PLEASE NOTE: Reviews reflect a certain moment in time. Some restaurants stay extremely consistent over many years, and some change for the better or worse. Some things that may change are: chefs, recipes, food suppliers, ingredients, philosophies, ownership, etc. We always hope that you have the same good, or great experience we had.
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