A constant conundrum for empanada makers is how to remember which one's which. Venues that offer only a few varieties sometimes give them dramatically different shapes; shops that serve many different empanadas often notch or perforate the crimped edge according to an in-house code. Since these empanadas (on the house; regularly about $2 each) have no lip, King Patacon imprints them with fingers (gloved fingers) pressed into the corn dough before cooking. Two indentations denote carne mechada, or shredded beef; one signals cazón, or baby shark. The menu includes another half-dozen empanadas that I haven't had opportunity to decode.
Also shown: a carne mechada patacón ($7.50), with lettuce, tomato, and a piquant pink dressing, between two disks of twice-fried green plantain. The sandwich's full name, patacón Maracucho, identifies its origin as the Venezuelan city of Maracaibo — though as it happens King Patacon's chef is a Caraqueña, and her husband, who handles the front of the (small) house, is Dominican. As I found in Inwood, however, nicely fried patacones have broad appeal.
42-19 102nd St. (at 43rd Ave.), Corona, Queens