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Oct 15, 2007 05:46 PM

Original Marini's Empanada House - 2nd location

I just discovered this weekend Marini's has opened a second location in the old Carillon Square on Westheimer, just west of Gessner. I noticed the sign as I passed by but the restaurant is not visible from the street; it's right behind the Starbucks.

This is good news since it's so much closer to my home I'll be able to go a bit more often.

Carillon looks to be mostly deserted.


Good heavens, according to the website, they're doing mail order now!

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  1. Do they taste as good as they look? What are your favorites?

    9 Replies
    1. re: danhole

      In Houston, they offer the best empanadas out of one place - and when I say the best, I don't necessarily mean flavor only. They have a good variety - both latin and american influenced.

      But if you look carefully, you can find better and more authentic empanadas at other places. Such as the french bakery across West Oaks Mall where the Bollywood cinema is, the Uruguayan couple on Saturdays make traditional empanadas.

      Also, the Chilean restaurant on Synott just north of Westpark Tollway in Alief makes good empanadas.

      But unlike the Original Empanada House, you'll only have maybe two choices. But at least it's the real thing.

      1. re: mialebven

        Interesting observation mialebven but I'm not sure I understand. I'm aware Marcello Marini was very creative when it came to fillings but are there other ways his empanadas are not 'real?' They look just like the pictures in the Wikipedia article on empanadas.

        I'm aware the dish varies by country. There was a place on Hillcroft (may still be there) that served Columbian style which were said to be very different (I never went). Venezuelan empanadas are made with arepas - corn meal dough instead of pie-crust like dough, and in El Salvador, empanadas refers to a plantain stuffed with sweet cream and the little fried pies are called pastilitos or something like that.

        1. re: brucesw

          I'm Venezuelan myself so my observation may be biased and different... in Venezuela you have corn meal dough empanadas and the flour dough empanadas (usually fried - the Argentine/Chilean style empanadas are often baked instead).

          But yeah, the Colombian empanada place on Hillcroft kind of sucks... that's my opinion though. The Venezuelan empanadas at Miguelito's on Richmond are much better, especially the one with the pabellon stuffing... oh delicious! Both of the mentioned Colombian and Venezuelan style empanadas are made with corn meal dough.

          I'm happy to say the Chilean restaurant I mentioned on Synott got mentioned in the Houston Chronicle, and their empanadas were briefly noted. Pictures of their empanadas could be found on the website with the review as well. It is here

          In the picture, you'll see both fried and baked versions of flour-dough empanadas.

          I judge the authenticity by judging mostly on the fillings. The way the empanadas are made at Marini's in Katy is standard but, for example, having fillings with jalapenos... that's a far stretch made to cater to American tastes. Jalapenos just do not go into empanadas anywhere south of Mexico, and from what I know, Mexico doesn't even have empanadas in their rich cuisine. And what about the empanadas with brisket? Very Texan, not Latin American! That's where authenticity comes into question. They make odd fillings and some of the fillings, no disrespect, "tastes" American. Some of those fillings probably wouldn't fly in South American countries.

          But I do like Marini's simply because of all the places in Houston, they have the most variety. It's a true empanada house, in that respect and Houston stands to gain from having one.

          1. re: mialebven

            Thanks very much for the clarifications! Yeah, I've never even tried bbq or some other empanadas at Marini's that I thought couldn't be very authentic. But I guess there is a big Italian influence in Argentina.

            I saw the review of the Chilean place but didn't realize it was the one you mentioned; I'm looking forward to trying that. Also never made it to Miguelito's. I really liked the empanadas I had at Pana's but they're closed now.

            Have you had the conger eel at Temucano and if so what did you think?

            1. re: brucesw

              Unfortunately my stay in the Clear Lake area was B.P. (Before Pana - lol). And to hear it close is a sad thing since I heard a lot of good reviews about it. But I've been happy with Miguelitos - it is much better than the arepa stands (that actually look like taco stands) around Dunvale/Fondren/Richmond/Westheimer area.

              Yeah, Italians are everywhere in South America - in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil especially. I'm in Miami right now and I have a perfect example of what I just stated - there's three Italian restaurants close to each other on one street (Coral Way) where the chefs have originated from these three countries. But then again, I'm sure there's a Cuban-Italian (Romo's) and a Colombian-Italian restaurant in the area as well. The fillings have nothing much to do with the Italian influence, and neither does the dough - or we would be seeing empanadas in Italy too! ;-)

              I really enjoyed Marini's and I do plan to make a visit when I go back - and probably also drink up the Venezuelan soda (an acquired taste - but popular with kids cuz of the sugar content) Frescolita that was being sold at the Katy location.

              1. re: mialebven

                Went to El Temunco and tried an empanada and the pastel del choclo, both very good. Empanadas are smaller, lighter, with a thinner crust. I'm going back soon to try the fried congrio or congrio alfredo or maybe just some more empanadas and the Thousand Layer Cake and will post a report.

        2. re: mialebven

          HaHa! "Authentic" . . . sorry, but I wouldn't know what an authentic empanada tasted like to save my life. I just know they are usually either really good or really bad. Guess I am just a plain ole person who likes food, but doesn't know all the international cuisines. Working on it.

          Thanks Bruce for the photo. That sandwich looks fabulous, as well.

          1. re: danhole

            The sandwich was a little disappointing - not a good enough piece of meat. When at the Empanada place, get empanadas!

        3. re: danhole

          The Gaucho, Spinach and Demichelli. Here's a pic of the latter 2 with the Churrasco sandwich:

          I guess I'm just weird but I've never cared much for the dessert ones. Caution - they come to the table very hot, let them cool before biting into them if you're going to eat them with your hands.

        4. Their first location is very close to my parent's place in Katy, but this is definitely good news. Now I'm craving some delicious dessert empanadas!

          1 Reply
          1. re: air

            For the sake of history the first location was in montrose25+/- years ago when Los Tios was considered ethnic. That being said you are lucky to have them in Katy.