I always associate empanadas with Argentina. However, I don’t know if their origins are from Argentina and if you ask anyone from Latin America you will get the same answer as asking someone from the Middle East about the country specific origins of hummus. Don’t ask, its a black hole from which a definitive answer will never emerge. Just enjoy your food and move on!
I was lucky enough to stumble upon this empanada house in Irving, Texas – of all places. The empanadas I had in Buenos Aires were rolled thick by hand, 2 tablespoons of filling placed on half the round which was hand closed and crimped. They were absolutely delicious but the focus is on the buttery crunchy crust; the filling is merely an accessory. At Empamundo, they are machine rolled, thin, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of filling is placed into the center, then they are mechanically sealed. The focus is on the filling, the crust is an accessory. The effect is undeniably enjoyable.
The owners are a couple: He is from Buenos Aires, She is from Indonesia. They are both extremely warm and good at business; the combination is rare. Like any ethnic food venue in Texas, its important to acknowledge the local demographics. They have done so by keeping a portion of their empanada offerings true to Argentine standards, while extending the menu for local tastes – witness the Brisket Empanada and the Cheesesteak Empanada. Their approach has been wildly successful and we’ll see if my subliminal message of “Houston, Houston, Houston” will precipitate an expansion southward.
None, don’t come here for atmosphere. Its located in a scruffy, ubiquitous strip mall and has limited seating. Better to order to go, chat with the owners during the wait, then consume elsewhere.
Fantastic. They are both very personable and like chatting with customers. Some of it is business courtesy, however they also seem genuinely interested in knowing the people walking through their doors. My wait was only 15 minutes but during that time I chatted with He and She, learning more about His history in Argentina and His prowess at being on the sharp end of the business stick.
- Criolla : Beef, onions, green olives, raisins with chopped egg. The raisins and green olives, while strong, actually work together in a successful flavor balance. Toothy and filling, this was easily my favorite.
- Ham & Cheese : Strips of juicy ham and a salty yellow cheese with the visual and taste surprise of red bell strips and mushrooms. The flavors were good but I used too much of the included Chimichurri sauce, which drowned out the most everything but the salty aspect. Next time, no Chimichurri with this one.
- Brisket: How could I not try this? Delicious. Texas standard brisket – smoky and sweet – manages to stay inside in the empanada, however I don’t know how, considering its fall-to-pieces tender. Worthy of a redux.
Inexpensive. You can easily be pleasantly full for less than $8.
Sucky photos courtesy of my dirty-lensed iPhone — you’re welcome!
Dinner: 10 May 2013
Empamundo | 3977 N. Belt Line Rd. | Irving TX 75038