Is anyone ever not in the mood for perfectly hand-size, flaky pastries filled with delicious ingredients? Didn’t think so. Luckily for vegetarians everywhere, Houston’s bustling foodscape offers not only a wide breadth of options for empanadas, but also vegetable-packed, meat-free empanadas! Read on to learn where to find some of the tastiest pocket pies around.
Manena's: Houston’s reigning Argentinian deli offers a plethora of Argentinian sandwiches, pastries and empanadas. Although the pastry shell here lacks the flaky layers of the puff pastry-style empanadas, the thin pastry exterior bakes into satisfyingly crispy edges, enveloping a good amount of filling. You can get them baked or fried, and vegetarians can choose from three vegetarian offerings: spinach, humita (corn), or cheese, onion, tomato and basil.
Oh My Pocket Pies: The former food truck and now pie wholesaler churns out the pies stocking the counters at Doshi House, campus coffee shops at Rice and UH, and Urban Eats, among other locations. Oh My Pocket Pies offers a number of vegetarian options — think spinach and artichoke, pesto tomato scramble, and black bean — as well as a couple of vegan options.
The Original Marini's Empanada House: Good old Marini’s offers a whopping ten vegetarian options (out of nearly 40 savory empanada options) — notables include the avocado empanada, which is the single dairy-free savory empanada filling on offer. My personal top favorites were the New Yorker (broccoli, cream sauce, mozzarella and provolone) and the Fugazetta (sautéed onions, mozzarella, provolone and spices), but the eggplant parmigiana, asparagus and humita (corn in cream sauce) empanadas are worth trying for the novelty if nothing else. At $2.65 a pop, two to three of these palm-size empanadas with their distinctively flaky crust make a fantastic meal. Marini's offers a whole wheat option for 25 cents more per empanada, which is worth a try for a more toothsome, hearty crust texture.
Gusto Gourmet: This Latin-Mediterranean fusion shop on Shepherd specializes in an array of arepas (cornmeal pockets stuffed with fillings) and cachapas (corn pancakes with Venezuelan cheese), but Gusto also offers several vegetarian options for its cornmeal-based Venezuelan empanada appetizers: plantain and cheese, potato and cheese, or veggies (3 for $7).
Siphon: This Montrose coffee shop’s Argentinian-style empanadas come with a little dish of housemade chimichurri. Vegetarians can find a satisfying snack in Siphon's potato-filled empanadas.
Argentina Café: Vegetarians will find only one option at this Galleria establishment (onion and cheese), but it’s still worth checking out for the über-thick and flaky empanada crusts. One empanada will run you $2.25 — plenty of dough to spare for an after-lunch alfajor or palmerita.
Salento: For a classic spinach- and cheese-stuffed empanada, Salento’s hits the spot with a tender crust enveloping a filling generous on the spinach and bound with ricotta.
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