As a freshman, I tried many places to eat per my older sister’s or her friends’ recommendations. I was introduced early to various ethnic treasures of Irving, but until now had forgotten many.
This past week, I rediscovered Empa Mundo, World of Empanadas, which are prepared in the traditional Argentine style. Before, I had only tried their take-out, but had not actually visited the restaurant on N. Belt Line Road.
The restaurant is located in one of Irving’s many shopping strips. The restaurant feels chintzy with flashing lights and a smiling empanada sign. However, the owner’s wife welcomed us in, giving the place a more homey feel.
The owner is of Argentine descent, authenticating the cuisine. His wife, who is from Indonesia, hospitably served us. We placed our order by marking on a reusable menu how many empanadas we would like.
They have 13 different flavors of empanadas, all $2.50 each. For those who do not know, an empanada is a delicious appetizer (or dinner, if one has several), comprised of baked or fried pastries stuffed with a variety of meat, cheese, vegetables and fruits. I tried four different kinds, all fried: the Texas Brisket, Cheesesteak, Chorizo (sausage, potatoes, peppers and onions) and Chilipanzinga (ham and cheese).
Their variety of beverages is limited, with Pepsi and Coca-Cola products as well as various bottled juices. All the canned beverages are $1.25 each.
The food took a while to come out, but it is possible to order ahead for take-out, which would speed up the process. Overall, the empanadas seemed a bit overdone. I tried the Texas Brisket first, which had brisket meat and potatoes with a slight spice. I also expected the Cheesesteak to be slightly cheesier. The other two flavors were very good, but still slightly overdone. I really appreciated the Chorizo, which was the slightly more traditional flavor.
I also tried their traditional alfajor-style cookie, which was flavored with dulce de leche and coconut. The flavors of the caramel and coconut went nicely together, though the cookie itself was dry. The atmosphere was conducive to lingering and I took my time over dinner catching up with a friend. Afterward, we had difficulty finding the trashcan, but we finally succeeded and gave our trays to the server. We paid after we ate, which also contributed to not feeling rushed.
Overall, for the service, price and proximity, Empa Mundo is a great choice for a quick bite or a longer dinner. Despite some minor complaints, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.