Megan O’Brien, Contributing Writer
Savory. Crispy. Hearty. These words come to mind when I think of Empa Mundo’s delicious fare. Even better, going to Empa Mundo is simple, quick and cheap. It sits quietly within a strip mall off Belt Line Road in Irving. An empanada caricature smiling and licking his lips welcomes you as you pull into the parking lot.
Don’t be misguided by decor slightly reminiscent of a run-down ‘60s diner, complete with checkered tiles and mirrored walls. I eat at this place so often that the owners – an older couple from Argentina – know my name. They will learn yours, too. Humble and sociable, they eagerly answer any questions you might have about empanadas. Let them know if you have never been there before and they will explain the empanadas they offer and even show you how substantial they are.
The menu centers solely on Argentine empanadas, bursting with unique flavors and savory ingredients like olives and raisins. Drool over your 12 options and then use the grease pencil provided to mark the empanadas you want on the plastic menu. Good luck deciding.
The empanadas range from meat to vegetable to dessert. Those stuffed with meat, like the criolla, brisket, chorizo and chicken empanadas, are hearty selections. But then, so are the tuna and vegetable empanadas. The criolla distinguishes itself from the others with beef, onions, olives, raisins and eggs. Weird combo? Think again. These sweet and salty ingredients pair wonderfully with the meat, providing you with a culinary experience you will not soon forget.
Two empanadas (maybe three for guys) for only $2.50 each will satisfy you and both your stomach and your wallet will be in high spirits. Try different kinds or split a couple with friends to sample more of these mouth-watering treats.
After you make your selections, the owners will create and fry up your empanadas within about ten minutes. A chimichurri-style sauce, made with chopped fresh parsley, olive oil, vinegar, red pepper flakes and a couple secret ingredients, compliments each empanada. Dare to dribble the sauce on your empanada to add extra spice and flavor.
You might be tempted to buy a bottled water or soda to cleanse your palate. Serve yourself, pay later.
While you check out, ask Raul (one of the owners) about the journey that led him to establish Empa Mundo. You can taste the passion the couple has for their chosen profession in the food they make. Tell him you’ll be back. You know you will.