I discovered empanadas—savory, stuffed Latin American turnovers—in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was there for a month, and I ate them every day. My favorite was the beef mixed with green olives and raisins, which tasted similar to Cuban picadillo . That was nearly 20 years ago but ever enchanted by the foodstuff, I still try empanadas any time I see them.
More often than not, the pastries are soggy, overworked, or haphazardly filled—in short, disappointing. Not so at the three-week-old Maria Empanada . Located on the corner of Sheridan Boulevard and Mississippi Avenue, this tiny shop offers 15-plus, freshly baked, savory flavors. There's traditional beef (yes!), as well as mushroom with three-cheese sauce; sweet corn; blue cheese with olives and walnuts; and "tango" (which tastes like a Denver omelet without the omelet). Owner Lorena Cantarovici's pastry is flaky, buttery, and light. Her fillings are expertly spiced and well portioned. Order a side of herby chimichurri and the spicy, Sriracha-like asado grill sauce for dipping.
Bonus: Don't miss the alfajores—one of my all-time favorite treats. Cantarovici's citrus-zested shortbread cookies are sandwiched with dulce de leche and rolled in shredded coconut. They look exactly like this  picture.
5209 W. Mississippi Ave., Lakewood, 303-934-2221