The Empanada House has over 65 kinds of empanadas!
The Original Marini's Empamada House is owned by the Marini Family of Argentina. I get to add Argentina to the list, but better yet, I experienced this wonderful little spot with Monica (on right) who is from Argentina! 3 bonus points for that!
This restaurant is located at 10001 Westheimer in an attractive "newish" building. That's why I'm a little confused why they would call it the Original, because it isn't. The original was on Montrose and was opened by the Marini Family in 1971. But I won't deduct a point for that... since a fire caused their move.
Monica had Sangria waiting for us when we arrived! It was quite festive with small chunks of fruit (which I prefer to larger hunks that make you reach for a fork) We could have chosen from a large selection of Argentine wines, which they sell in their little shop area, along with homemade pastries.
This glossy menu reveals the Marini Family. Mom and Dad still come and go, but the kids (and their kids) run the place now! Debbie, pictured on the right was working in the kitchen and at the counter. She was very welcoming to our group, even though she seemed to have much to do. 3 bonus points for witnessing the family members at work!
This is what Marini's is known for! With 40 different kinds on the menu (and that does not include 28 dessert empanadas!) you can see why! I took Debbie and Monica's advice and ordered "Gaucho" with ground beef, hard-boiled egg, olive, onions and spices. Monica says in Argentina, each province makes their beef empanadas a little differently. She said her children found these to be a little sweeter than their favorites at another restaurant.
Besides beef, I tried an empanada with chicken, mushrooms and wine and another with avocado and cheese! The only problem, was telling them apart. Monica said they usually mark them in some way...but maybe the surprise added to the fun! The CHIMICHURRI SAUCE was excellent! Highest rating of 5 points for food at Marini's!! 1 bonus, for great prices! $2.50 each! 2 bonus points for allowing you to be healthy if you choose! They will bake empanadas if you prefer!
Cozy Food & Atmosphere
Here we are, nibbling our fig, walnut and cheese dessert empanadas, sprinkled with powdered sugar! The smell of this piping hot treat matched the flavors! It reminded me of something I should be eating on a cold winter night, in a cozy cafe. Well, it had been in the '70s during the day, but the atmosphere was cozy!
We were surrounded by family photos, art and letters... memorabilia that probably escaped the fire from the original place. With counter service only, it felt like we were at home every time hopped up from the table to go get another order or an extra glass. Not everyone loves such a casual place, but it was perfect for this gathering!
4 bonus for cozy... minus 1 for a TV playing Food Network instead of Argentine TV!
Here we are posing with Debbie in her colorful chef hat. Her brother-in-law took the photo. I would have liked to have learned more about what it was like growing up in the restaurant world...or marrying into it. But I'll save that for another time, when they are less busy...and maybe I have fewer friends I'm eager to catch up with! 1 bonus point for enjoying some of the Marinis...for a moment!
18 points for Marini's!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.