444-101 South Blount St.
$3 per empanada
Calavera is an empanada and tequila bar that—praise the lord—has a kitchen that stays open until 2 am. This is a wonderful, wonderful thing, as any night owl would tell you. Quality empanadas as a late-night snack? It’s divinely inspired, and Raleigh is lucky to have this joint.
Despite my worship of their hours, I actually tried Calavera for lunch. It has two stories, and the indoors is an inviting, warm red with Day of the Dead décor. However, it was a gorgeous day, so we dined at the outside tables.
They smartly offer lunch specials: 2 empanadas or 1 empanada and a half-salad with a drink for $6 and 3 empanadas with a drink for $8. They have an alternating list of around 8 savory empanadas, 2 sweet ones, and a few salads and sides.
That guacamole starter was great—I was about to write that it’s hard to screw up guacamole, but as my memory reminded me, it’s frighteningly not that hard. Calavera’s doesn’t overwhelm that pure avocado glory with too much garlic or too saucy of a texture. The chips were fine, but I’m pretty sure I saw a truck unloading chips from On the Border while we were there, so they don’t make their own. It doesn’t really matter, but chips fried in-house always get a freshness boost.
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