Monday, August 16, 2010

Empanada Soulmate Smackdown: Empanada's Place, Costa Mesa

It's what's inside that matters

My sister in law is kind of a saint, and not just because she married my little brother, but because she is a poster child for acts of kindness (i.e. bring home a box of empanadas) for the sake of my empanada treasure hunt. Empanada place has two locations: one in Culver City and one in Costa Mesa. I've been to the Culver City location once and was disappointed by the super greasy fried pies with minimal filling (and lots of hot air in between). But these were from the Orange Curtain location, and much better. The fillings were robust, fresh while the dough was at least not dripping in oil. Empanada's Place's  prices ($2.99 each) are, however, one of the highest around town. The fillings were fantastic, however I am partial to the baked empandas.


Empanada place has a fun menu with pictures depicting all their crazy shapes for each empanada flavor.

I started off with the Spinach empanada crammed also with mozzarella, parmesan, and "white sauce." I enjoyed the delicate, melt-in-your-mouth bite of this dough baby. The dough layer is thin, creating just a holding pouch for the innards. It was gone in a green flash.

Green Flash

The Cheese & Onion was also lovely with fresh white onions and mozzarella cheese. I liked how the aggressive onion paired with the mild cheese resulted in an irresistible balance of flavor (and aroma).

 Cheese and Fresh Onion

Being an eggplant lover, I was excited to try the Berenjena or Eggplant pie with fresh eggplants, tomato sauce, parmesan and mozzarella. I also loved the shape of this empanada.

 Tribal Dolphin Drawing?

The innards reminded me of Greek eggplant salad, melitzanosalata. It was a heartier vegetarian filling.

Eggplant Innards

Empanda's Place also makes alfajores, similar to the Peruvian variety with dulce de leche sandwiched between two butter cookies and rolled in a little coconut.

Cajeta Cookies

Empanda Ranking:

1. Grand Casino Bakery
2. Rincon Argentino
3. Rincon Chileno
4. Empanda Place

Empanada Place
3011 Harbor Blvd.
Costa Mesa, CA  92626


stuffycheaks said...

i LOVE the descriptive menu, so I can AVOID the ones with olives! think i gotta try the eggplant one as well, and spicy beef

Ruth Abatzoglou said...

Nice post Anna,
I liked how you compared the different empanadas as well as the different shops.

I loved the spicy beef empanada from Costa Masa too.

Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul said...

Who knew the O.C. had little treasures like this place? They look addictive!

weezermonkey said...

Oh! Em! Gee!

I know it's in last place, but look at the variety!

Isn't there a location in L.A., too?

Thanks so much for this smackdown. I really enjoyed the extended reporting.

Banana Wonder said...

Stuffycheaks - Hah, oh yeah, you need to start a olive hating group with Diana and Danny. I will follow behind and eat all your rejected olives.

Mom - Thanks :) Which ones did you like best? I really should include your empanadas next time :)

Peter - AH, the Orange Curtain aint so bad sometimes :)

Weezermonkey - Yes - in Culver City! But if you're in Culver City you might as well go to Grand Casino Bakery too :) Lucky :)

Chelsea Talks Smack said...


Banana Wonder said...

Chelsea - :) Funny how fried things can become magical, huh?!

Helen said...

Oh yummy! This is a feast for the Gods! I love the menu from this place and all the fun shapes that depict the filling! I'm developing a empanada fetish now, LOL! I've never encountered so many different fillings before. Your s-i-l is indeed a saint! Alfajores are also one of my favourite cookies! I've been thinking of trying to make them at home.

Banana Wonder said...

Helen - Now I am curious about Canadian empanadas! Do tell...

Esi said...

I kind of wish I could have accompanied you on these various empanada experiences. They're all unique, but sound so good.

Banana Wonder said...

Esi - I'll scout the empanada places up here for when you come visit :)

Helen said...

Anna, The empanadas I've tried are either traditional like meat-filled or veggie-filled and fried and those are usually found in the Latin markets. The alternative empanadas which I've mentioned before are made with spelt flour and baked and are filled with either feta and spinach, tofu and veggies or Mexican seasonings and beans. Yes, they're all vegetarian and found at health food restos. I've yet to find an empanada with egg inside but I'll keep looking.

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