Home Spain stamps Empanola opens second branch in Uptown | Food and Drink | Weekly gambit

Empanola opens second branch in Uptown | Food and Drink | Weekly gambit



Empanola’s success is a family affair. he just opened a second restaurant in Uptown, and although it is owned by chef Marcelo Garcia, his wife Jimena Urrutia and his brother Javier Urrutia, it is not uncommon to find one of the couple’s daughters behind the counter.

Their take empanadas, the delicious snack popular in Spain and South America, is the result of hard work and smart ideas that drive these family-owned restaurants.

“We’re slowly populating New Orleans,” says Jimena Urrutia, who recently moved her mother from her native Argentina to the Irish Channel.

The family’s adherence to all things New Orleans has been mutual. Locals have sparked Empanola’s success since its debut at St. Roch Market in 2017. It expanded into the auction house market and the family opened their first location and kitchen at 7321 St. Freret in 2019. On August 5, they opened the new location at 3109 Magazine Street.

Opening an empanadas business was not something Garcia had dreamed of. The family came to New Orleans for a year in 2016 to take a sabbatical after Garcia’s stressful career running his own advertising business in Santiago, Chile, where he is from. Jimena Urrutia already had ties to New Orleans – she had been an exchange student at Tulane University – and loved the city. It turns out the whole family felt the same. “The year has gone by so quickly,” she says. “We looked at each other and said, ‘What are we really going back to?

“We are in love with the city. It’s sweet, but there is so much culture at the same time. And the food is amazing. We let go of the stress of the big city. We are raising children and you can have a good quality of life here. Sometimes you have some sort of earthquake that shakes your life for the better. It was ours.

Garcia decided to pursue his passion for food. “I’ve always loved to cook, so we started to think about business ideas,” he says. A sandwich shop concept was shot by his wife. “It’s the city of po-boys!” ” she said.

Urrutia then dreamed of empanadas, the crescent-shaped filled pockets of dough she grew up with. “It’s not common here, so we were like, ‘Why not?’ “, she says. They added the touch of New Orleans-inspired toppings and flavors, such as crayfish stew made with Louisiana crayfish, onions, peppers and celery, and a “gumbo” version to base of roast chicken, sausage, onions and peppers. Empanola was born.

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Javier Urrutia and his wife lived in Barcelona and joined the company at the start of the pandemic, swapping his job in human resources for a role in the company.

“It’s so wonderful to have my brother and my mother here,” says Jimena Urrutia. “We all work very well together. “

The location on Magazine is a modern and bright space, with a full coffee bar plus a selection of at least 11 types of empanadas, plus daily specials, like an empanada for breakfast. Popular flavors include traditional Argentinian beef, chorizo, and Peruvian chicken, with chunks of bird marinated in a yellow chili paste. There is an Impanada Empanada made with the meat substitute, which is surprisingly close to the real thing thanks to the spice blend and texture. There are three homemade sauces, including chimichurri, cilantro-lime, and a hot sauce made with apple cider.

Learning how to make dough was a process, Garcia says. He had met the baker Dominique Rizzo, former owner of La Boulangerie, and turned to him for advice. “Dominique has become my mentor,” he says. At first the dough was shaped by hand and was flaky and delicious, but not firm enough to hold the toppings. “You had to eat them with a fork,” he says. A slightly denser Argentinian-style dough was developed and as the empanadas flew out the door, it was clear that moving from shaping each one by hand to using a hand press that stamps uniform empanadas was the way to go.

“My brother helped us with this innovation, which allows us to maintain quality and consistency and meet demand,” explains Jimena Urrutia.

Another innovation was to stamp each empanada with the name of its flavor. Custom catering orders can include custom names, such as the bride and groom. The demand for catering is increasing, both for the larger empanadas and for the smaller and bite-size versions. The business franchise is a possibility down the road.

“We have learned so much since we started four years ago,” says Jimena Urrutia. “Our vision was to make a food you hold in your hand that could still be gourmet. Empanadas are so versatile.


3109 Magazine Street, (504) 582-9378; 7321 rue Freret, (504) 249-5977

Rue du Magazine: 11 am-9pm Wed-Sun ; Rue Freret: 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily

Dine in, take out and limited outdoor seating


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