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Thursday, November 04, 2010

La Paula, Fairfield

There's a surreal moment when you first step inside La Paula. Its bare shopfront gives no indication of the colour and vibrance within. I headed here for this month's Time Out Sydney column, and as we sat on plastic chairs in a dining room filled with gaudy streamers and Chilean flags, sinking our teeth into warm empanadas and lomitos, I almost convinced myself I was somewhere in Santiago, and not downtown Fairfield, Sydney.

La Paula, Fairfield

A Chilean bakery and café in Fairfield that specialises in empanadas and dulce de leche sweets.

Step through the non-descript shopfront and you’ll find a festive interior strewn with Chilean flags and giant crepe paper rosettes and streamers in patriotic red, white and blue. You’ll hear a constant soundtrack of Spanish dialogue as locals pick up takeaway orders of sweets from the bakery, or sit down for a quick snack whilst watching Chilean cable TV.

Paula empanada

Empanadas are the specialty: a stuffed pastry that comes baked or deep fried. Empanada de Pino ($3.70) is the most traditional, filled with beef mince, onion, olive and boiled egg, but you’ll also find tuna, chicken, ham and seafood. Empanada de Queso ($2.60) is particularly good, deep-fried until its special blend of cheeses is deliciously gooey.


Emapanada de Pino $3.70
Baked beef, onion, olive, egg and spices

Empanada de Pollo $3.70
Baked chicken, onion, olive, egg, spices

Empanada de Espinaca $3.70
Baked spinach and cheese

Empanada de Queso $2.60
Fried with homemade cheese filling

The lomito pork sandwich is Chile’s answer to fast food. A towering Lomito Completo ($7.80) gives you the lot – tender pork slices, tomato, sauerkraut, lettuce and lashings of mayonnaise in a soft white bun. Chacarero is the beef version: thin slices of steak with tomato, mayonnaise and sliced green beans, a cominbation that sounds odd, but surprisingly works.

Lomito completo and palta $7.80
Sliced pork meat, tomato, sauerkraut, avocado and mayonnaise

Inside the lomito pork sandwich

Chacarero and Palta $8.80
Steak, tomato, green beans, avocado (palta) and mayonnaise

Inside the chacarero steak sandwich


You’ll also find completos hot dogs (from $3.50) that are amped up with tomato, sauerkraut and mayonnaise. Everything tastes even better with the addition of palta (avocado). Wash it all down with mote con huesillo, a summer drink of sugar and cinnamon served with cooked barley and a rehydrated whole dried peach.

Tamales, El Salvado-style $2.50 each

Inside the tamales

Bistec a lo Pobre $14.50
Scotch fillet steak, chips, two fried eggs and sauteed onions

Mote con Huesillo $3.90

A display cabinet shows biscuits sandwiched with manjar, the Chilean version of dulce de leche caramel made from condensed milk. Berlin custard-filled donuts are a popular local treat that originated via the large German community in Chile, but the store pick is the tres leche, or three milk cake, a butter cake soaked in evaporated milk, condensed milk and cream and then smothered in blowtorched meringue.

Dessert cabinet

[clockwise from top]: Chilenito, Alfajore and Maizena Chica



Maizena Chica (made from cornstarch and gluten-free)

Tres leche cake

Inside the tres leche three milk cake



Alfajores de Maizena

Horns filled with manjar (dulce de leche)

Sopaipillas pumpkin fritters (savoury)

Berlin donuts

Empanadas menu

Hot dog, lomito and chacarero menu

View Larger Map
La Paula on Urbanspoon

La Paula
Unit 1, 9 Barbara Street, Fairfield 2165
Tel: +61 (02) 9726 2379
Open: Monday to Sunday 7am-5pm

This article appears in the November 2010 issue of Time Out Sydney in the Food & Drink section. Read online

Read more Time Out Sydney reviews

ATL Marantha, Kensington (Indonesian fried chicken with edible bones)
Balkan Oven, Rockdale (Macedonian burek)
Durban Dish, Baulkham Hills (South African bunny chow)
Hijazi's Falafel, Arncliffe (Lebanese breakfast)
Island Dreams Cafe, Lakemba (Christmas Islands cuisine)
Sea Sweet, Parramatta (Lebanese sweet kashta cheese burger)
Sizzling Fillo, Lidcombe (Filipino pork hock crackling)
Tehran, Granville (Persian cuisine)
Tuong Lai, Cabramatta (Vietnamese sugar cane prawns)
29 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/04/2010 02:31:00 am


  • At 11/04/2010 7:01 am, Blogger Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said…

    I'm always on the look out for decent South American street food. This place looks very authentic! Thanks again for uncovering another gem Helen!

  • At 11/04/2010 8:49 am, Anonymous Betty @ The Hungry Girl said…

    *drools* I've been to the one in Kingsford and loved it. Those dulce de leche sweets were so addictive and now I want some empanadas! Yum!!

  • At 11/04/2010 9:04 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    burgah innards! and ooh that tres leche cake looks fabulous hello creamy goodness!

  • At 11/04/2010 9:59 am, Anonymous Matthew (Masterchef) said…

    OMG, those desserts look the goods. On another note, Phil said you're his cousin. Small world

  • At 11/04/2010 10:27 am, Anonymous Aimee said…

    So that's what this store sells!! I'm around the corner from there nearly every weekend and I've never even thought about walking in. Thanks for that - I'll definitely be dropping by soon!

  • At 11/04/2010 10:29 am, Anonymous Simon @ the heart of food said…

    Didn't realise that there was more than one outlet of La Paula, as I'm very familiar with the one in Kingsford.

    Is this the original store?

  • At 11/04/2010 10:30 am, Anonymous aptronym said…

    Love a good empandad. I've also been to the Kingsford one. Fairfield is so far for me...heh.

  • At 11/04/2010 10:55 am, Anonymous betty said…

    oh wow i always drive past here but thought it was just a dodgy row of shops? i ususally buy bread from this place around the corner huge lebanese style breads which are so so nice toasted with cheese 7 chilli - pity this place closes at 5pm though? i might visit one of these weekends thanks for sharing :)

  • At 11/04/2010 11:27 am, Blogger Mel said…

    Wow - this place looks so great, but you'd never know from the outside! Drooling.

  • At 11/04/2010 1:55 pm, Anonymous Hannah said…

    Don't think I can't see right through you, Helen! I know you were trying to distract me with the green beans and other vegetables inside the burgers and empanadas. But it didn't work! I still only have eyes for the desserts :D

  • At 11/04/2010 4:50 pm, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    That is some good value eating!

    What a whole lot of dulce de leche laden desserts!

  • At 11/04/2010 7:56 pm, Anonymous Serena said…

    oh my gosh, i've lived in fairfield my whole life and must have driven past this place at least a thousand times yet i've never noticed it! how exciting, i can't wait to try it! thanks heaps :D

  • At 11/04/2010 8:20 pm, Blogger A cupcake or two said…

    I a=m going to make a trip to Fairfield soon. I love Empanada De Queso. My grandma used to make all sorts of Empanadas for us when we were little. The cheese empanada was my favourite. Oh you just unleashed some memories for me with your post.

  • At 11/04/2010 10:46 pm, Blogger Gianna@TheEmptyFridge said…

    thank you thank you thank you Helen - for finding this absolute gem!
    I cant wait to try their tamales and the tres leches cake.
    I totally agree with your observation that everything tastes better with avocado, I had a chilean friend that slathered it on everything!
    counting down the days 'til I get my empanada fix!

  • At 11/04/2010 11:17 pm, Anonymous Arwen from Hoglet K said…

    Green beans, avocado and tomato would make a wonderfully moist addition to the burger. What an amazing range of cakes!

  • At 11/04/2010 11:31 pm, Anonymous Sara @ Belly Rumbles said…

    You can never judge a book by it's cover and this just proves it. What a great find.

  • At 11/05/2010 12:10 am, Anonymous A said…

    The desserts you have placed looks good. Next week am going on a trip to Fairfield. Now I have just made my mind to taste some of these desserts there.

  • At 11/05/2010 12:46 am, Blogger Beekeey said…

    I am becoming incredibly hungry looking at all those photos =(((

  • At 11/05/2010 8:49 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    What a great find - I just love empanadas

  • At 11/05/2010 4:45 pm, Anonymous Howard said…

    Defo a hidden gem, been around for many years!

  • At 11/05/2010 4:52 pm, Blogger Walter Mason said…

    Oh yum - La Paula is one of our absolute faves - try the hot dogs next time, too!

  • At 11/07/2010 4:06 am, Anonymous Brenda said…

    i am an empanada fanatic. and i can't get enough of what you just wrote. i have to go to that place. anyway, i love your pictures. you captured it very well.

  • At 11/07/2010 5:37 pm, Blogger spicyicecream said…

    Wow! I live just up the road from this place and never thought to wander inside! I'll definitely have to check it out soon! mmm dulce de leche!

  • At 11/08/2010 8:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    IMO, Chilean food in general is pretty bland except for empanadas. When I was working in Santiago every night I had an empanada plus a small bottle of Carmenere wine for dinner, yum!

  • At 11/09/2010 10:48 am, Anonymous Susan said…

    Wow what a great find. Everything looks so good and cheap. that pulled pork sandwich has me drooling! Empanadas, sweets, I would eat everything in here!

  • At 2/13/2011 10:49 am, Blogger spicyicecream said…

    I went the other day and tried the tres leches cake. WOW. it's so dangerous for my waistline that I live just around the corner!

  • At 3/19/2011 10:22 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The best food in Fairfield! Period.

  • At 12/24/2011 10:06 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Este es uno de esos casos en que la realidad es tan buena como las fotos! He probado la mayoria de los dulces, son exquisitos y los recomiendo sin dudar! (especialmente la torta 3 leches que es mi perdicion..!)
    Gracias Helen por compartir este dato.

  • At 6/08/2012 10:34 am, Anonymous Ximena said…

    The pictures are exactly what you get, reality. The taste is even better. My all time favourite is to start off with the cheese, empanada then have a chacarero ( the one with the green beans and must have avocado ) to finish off with a berlin ( custard filled ). You end up rolling out the door but if you skip breakfast and make it brunch it is SO worth it. Anyone that has been there or speaks spanish can also tell you that the staff are great as the owners daughter runs the place along with a great crew of staff. Another thing you cantake home you fresh beautiful baked bread and any of the fabulous cakes, empanadas or sandwiches because they also do takeaway. Prices are great for the top quality.


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