Chicago newcomer and blogger Gwynedd Stuart loves to eat out, but she also happens to be a poor person because she’s a Chicago newcomer and a blogger. In this weekly feature she seeks out affordable midday meals that don’t exceed five bucks (*actually seven, with tax and tip).

  • GWYNEDD STUART
  • I’m a real sucker for the Lito’s imprint along the seam

I was a lucky teenager. I didn’t have acne. I performed well on standardized tests. I maintained a size-two figure despite lunches frequently consisting of the cafeteria’s taco bar fixins shoveled into my maw with Cool Ranch Doritos. Also, my best friend’s mother was (still is!) Argentinian and made (still does!) the best empanadas I’ve ever had. Granted, they were probably the only empanadas I’d had at that point, so they had a competitive advantage. But even as I’ve grown older and my palate has matured beyond salty snack foods piled with soy meat and watery refried beans, Mrs. Butarelli’s empanadas have lived on. The crispy, bubbly, wheat-flour dough (versus the corn-flour dough used in other South American variations) encased a filling of ground beef, slippery little bits of egg white, pieces of briny green olive, and—the key ingredient, to my mind—raisins.

Suddenly, I’m a lucky adult because I found a place that understands how much olives and raisins belong in beef empanadas. And it’s cheap.