July 23, 2009

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South of the border west of the river
Empanadas restaurant opens in Manch

By Linda A. Thompson-Odum food@hippopress.com

Manchester has Ruben Figueroa’s friends and co-workers to thank for his new Empanadas Spanish-Mexican restaurant on the city’s West Side. While Figueroa made a batch of empanadas at the flour-covered stainless steel table in the center of the restaurant’s kitchen, he explained: “I never thought I would have a restaurant. This was my hobby. I cook anything. I used to take empanadas in to the place where I worked [PSNH] and people would ask, ‘What are those? Can you bring me some?’ Every weekend I was making these things. My wife said, ‘You got to get out of my kitchen.’”

The restaurant’s menu features four empanada varieties  —  beef, chicken, seafood and vegetarian. Figueroa also makes apple and cherry dessert empanadas. He explained that these small turnover-style pies were created by wives for their husbands to take with them out into the fields so they could eat without the need for a knife and fork.

Figueroa was born and raised in Manhattan. He learned to make empanadas and pasteles (meat pies wrapped inside a masa made with green bananas, plantains and yautia roots) from his grandmother, who would sell them from her New York kitchen.

“I used to sit at the table while she was making them and mess up her cooking,” he remembered with a smile. “That’s what she did all her life to make a living. People all over New York City are still doing this, though the health inspectors would not like it.”

Empanadas is not Figueroa’s first restaurant. After a 30-year career in the U.S. Navy’s intelligence division, he went to work for the state of Connecticut and then opened a Spanish restaurant and nightclub in Hartford. The family would come to New Hampshire almost every weekend to visit his wife’s family. Eventually they decided to move here.

Figueroa’s wife is a professor of nursing at NHTI. She and his two sons help him in the restaurant when they aren’t at their day jobs. (One son works on his master’s degree and plans to be a history professor, and the other was in the military for 12 years and now works for Southern Wine & Spirits of New England.)

Besides empanadas and pasteles, the menu also includes tacos, burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, fajitas and nachos. There are daily specials, and every Friday features Spanish Paella full of assorted seafood, chicken, pork, ham, chorizo, vegetables and rice. A number of customers have requested tamales, so Figueroa may soon put them on the menu.

“There are 27 Spanish-speaking countries in the world and everyone will know what the dishes are on my menu,” he said.

Figueroa told with pride a story about two moving company workers from Texas who came in and begged him for some food like they would get at home. He says the pair left full and happy.

“We really enjoy what we’re doing. We make it simple and do the kinds of things that people generally ask for,” Figueroa said.


Empanadas
168 Amory St., Manchester, 836-5008, www.MiEmpanadas.com
Hours: Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.


7/16/2009 the food is the best part

7/9/2009 Today Pittsfiled, tomorrow the world
7/2/2009 The art of the sandwich
6/25/2009 Kitchens then and now
6/18/2009 Treat dad to something special
6/11/2009 Newly minted
6/4/2009 It's a stretch
5/28/2009 A South End tradition continues in Concord
5/21/2009 Nibbling through downtown
5/14/2009 Gyro, pastichio or spanakopeta?
5/7/2009 Give the gift of nobody doing dishes
4/30/2009 A Taste of old favorites, new dishes
4/23/2009 A week of eats in Manchester
4/16/2009 So happy together
4/9/2009 After candy, brunch and diner
4/2/2009 All made right here
3/26/2009 A sappy story
3/19/2009 Five-course trip to Lebanon
3/12/2009 Irish meals
3/5/2009 Get a peice of the farm
2/26/2009 Before late night eats,an evening at the pub
2/19/2009 Drinks with Dan Akroyd
2/12/2009 Crooked Birch branches out
2/5/2009 Dinner with your sweetheart
1/29/2009 Food for the 50-yard line
1/22/2009 Artisan bread at The Good Loaf
1/15/2009 "Fold, mush, turn"
1/8/2009 Once upon a time at a bistro...
1/1/2009 Zacky's to go
12/25/2008 2008 in small bites
12/18/2008 Manchestert brewing opens in Concord
12/11/2008 Delicious gifts for the foodie
12/4/2008 New chef at UnWine'd
11/27/2008 Corks pops at BVI
11/20/2008 Big plates, big food
11/13/2008 IPA first prize
11/6/2008 You want it? He'll bring it.
10/30/2008 Cooking up a mystery
10/23/2008 Running with the bulls
10/16/2008 Like grandma made it
10/9/2008 The flavor of Concord
10/2/2008 Indie donuts rising
9/25/2008 Buy a bowl, feed the hungry
9/18/2008 Oktoberfest — for a cause
9/11/2008 A slice ofGreece, Asia, France...
9/4/2008 Flavors of Manchester
8/28/2008 D.I.Y. sausage
8/21/2008 Summertime and the living is chilli
8/14/2008 Weekend of festivals
8/7/2008 Going for pizza gold
7/31/2008 Red and juicy, from vine to table
7/24/2008 Meet the Manch-vegans
7/17/2008 Meet the winemaker
7/10/2008 Pupusas, cervesa y batidos
7/03/2008 3C's Cafe opens in Highlander Inn
6/26/2008 Oh, tartar sauce!
6/19/2008 From farm to grill
6/12/2008 450 pounds of lamb
6/5/2008 Travel the culinary world at BVI
5/29/2008 Chocolate throwdown
5/22/2008 Hit the road for some Yum-Yum
5/15/2008 Local, gluten-free and ready made
5/8/2008 The return of brownies and pasta
5/1/2008 Have a fiesta
4/24/2008 Noshing and shopping
4/17/2008 Celebrating with Greek eats
4/10/2008 Drive-ins open for the season
4/3/2008 Noshing for a cause
3/20/2008 The Easter Bunny brings dinner
3/13/2008 The Irish Spirit
3/6/2008 The sweet season
2/28/2008 Cambodian (or Italian) made easy
2/21/2008 Fresh fish comes to Nashua
2/14/2008 Hearts and fibers
2/7/2008 A romantic dinner for two
1/31/2008 Celebrate Mardi Gras
1/24/2008 Morroccan in Milford
1/17/2008 The chef is inn
1/10/2008 Italian street food in NH
1/10/2008 The contorni approach
1/3/2008 Like Disneyland for foodies
12/27/2007 More food and wine events, a menu for the bar
12/20/2007 Lots of dough
12/13/2007 Gifts for gourmands
12/6/2007 Making spirits really bright
11/22/2007 Just don't ask them to cook
11/15/2007 Easy as pie
11/8/2007 Italian eats, bistro style
11/1/2007 Bringing Italia to New Hampshire
10/25/2007 Trick or treat, the grown-up version
10/18/2007 Shop where the pros go
10/11/2007 Enjoy apple season from orchard to plate
10/04/2007 Tradition on the menu
9/27/2007 Meet your pig
9/20/2007 In search of the right meat
9/20/2007 Vegan blogger branches out
9/13/2007 Get ready to eat
9/6/2007 Fifty years of fair
8/30/2007 The buzz about peach fuzz
8/23/2007 Enjoy the Caribbean, sans hurricanes
8/16/2007 Festival weekend
8/9/2007 Still time to scream
8/2/2007 Perfecting a pound of pasta
7/26/2007 Gourmet Concord?
7/19/2007 Tart treats of a New Hampshire summer
7/12/2007 Reintroducing ratatouille
7/5/2007 Time to hit the grill
6/28/2007 Peanutty dinner delight
6/21/2007 Spicy meat, grilled meat and saucy meat
6/14/2007 Holy Barbecue
6/07/2007 A wine for Red Sox
5/31/2007 Pinot noir romance
5/24/2007 Josh Logan eats (not before shows)
5/17/2007 Baklava, spanakopita and souvlaki ó a.k.a. dinner
5/10/2007 Cremeland celebrates 60 years of burgers and shakes
5/3/2007 New eats in bloom
4/26/2007 Pho sure
4/19/2007 Cakes, cow-free
4/12/2007 Serving up the first square
4/5/2007 More than just a chocolate bunny
3/29/2007 New 'nuches
3/22/2007 A taste of genuine sweetness
3/15/2007 From homemade to home business
3/8/2007 Shop the farmers' market year round
3/1/2007 Feeding Mama Kicks
2/22/2007 Keepers of the vino
2/15/2007 Noodly comfort food
2/8/2007 The luxury of osso bucco
2/1/2007 Super platters for the Super Bowl
1/25/2007 It's a wrap
1/18/2007 The writing foodie
1/11/2007 Where the beef is, piled high and hot
1/04/2007 The healthy foodie
12/28/2006 The return of pasta and fall of the diet: the year in eats
12/21/2006 Organic on the ice
12/14/2006 French but not fussy
12/07/2006 Southeast U.S. culture, in sandwich form
11/30/2006 Bites of comfort with chips of happiness
11/23/2006 Cityside adds class to conveniece
11/16/2006 Easier-to-enjoy Thanksgiving feasts
11/9/2006 The new classic
10/26/2006 Whip up a quiche
10/19/2006 A new way to crepe
10/12/2006 Comfort food for blokes and birds
10/05/2006 Smaller crop but still red and delicious
09/28/2006 The crunchier, lighter, healthier wrap
09/21/2006 City bagels in suburbia
09/14/2006 Cracking the custard code
09/07/2006 Eat your way down the block
08/31/2006 New flavors for an old summer dish
08/24/2006 Way down south in Hollis
08/17/2006 Frappe vs. milkshake
08/10/2006 Enjoy the bluest month
08/03/2006 Death of Toro
07/27/2006 Vacation on a plate
07/20/2006 Hitting barbecue big time
07/13/2006 Relishing the raspberry
07/06/2006 Are your edible souveneirs kosher?
06/29/2006 Fish, upscale
06/22/2006 Sweet rosey taste of summer
06/15/2006 When to pull out the EVOO
06/08/2006 What can you grill?
06/01/2006 Taste of downtown Nashua
05/25/2006 Deulge at farms
05/18/2006 Adorable and delicious
05/11/2006 Rub down
05/04/2006 Pinot to go
04/27/2006 A bit Italian, a bit egg foo young
04/20/2006 Meatier than breakfast...
04/13/2006 Let yourself eat cake
04/06/2006 Fear not the Risotto
03/30/2006 Making Friday a fishy delight
03/23/2006 The Thin Mints are here
03/16/2006 Divining your personality from pizza
03/09/2006 Cooking up a big bowl of comfort
03/02/2006 Dumplings demystified
02/23/2006 Carbs and comfort all the way
02/16/2006 She sells sushi by the sea shore
2/09/2006 Biting into the burger with bling
02/02/2006 Forget formal dining, head to the bar
01/26/2006 Goodbye rooster, hello year of the dog
01/19/2006 The secret lives of chefs
01/12/2006 Cooking up a pot of delayed gratification
01/05/2006 A sunny Italian side dish
A year of eats

All-you-can-read guide to breakfast
A bagel by any other l
abel
A picnic ó itís romance with ants
A sweet burst of summer, in stages
Beef, It's What's For Dinner, Lunch, And Dessert
Be it ever so humble, the burger rules
Blockbuster snacks for your movie
Box Of Chocolates
C Is For Cookie And Christmas And Cool Combo
Celebrating A Holiday For The Rest Of Us
Celebrate Easter In A Sugar Coma
Chat And Chew

Chinese soup is magic
Chocolate cake makes everything better
Chocolate, Part II
Competition flows like chocolate
Corn Flake Chicken, Honeycomb Salad
Dining at the "Your House Bistro"
Don't Dread The Bread
Dress Up Your Next Meal
Drinking Out Of The Box
Eating Your Way Back To Health
Empanadas
Enter Soup
Experiments With Very Bad Brownies
Feeding A Crowd The Morning After
Follow the cider house rules
Fresh Herbs
Go ahead ó run silent, run deep
Goodbye corn syrup, hello organic oatmeal
Go Indian for Thanksgiving
Grilled Cheese Junkie

Halloween candy for grown-ups
Have a Happy Meal and a happier wallet
Holiday Cookies - The Easy Way
Holiday Potluck 101-Tips For The Kitchen Novice
Home-Based Date
How do you like them apples?
In-A-Pinch Love Feast
It's not easy to be cheesy
Itís not Christmas without tamales
Lest We Forget The Humble Squash
Keeping your cool while you eat
Living through your salad days

Looking Beyond The Hot Dog Stand
Lunching your way to a less toxic you
Meat's meat and a man's gotta eat

Moist and delicious chicken ó no, really
Oatmeal Cookies, The Miracle Cure
Oscar Night, When The Stars Come Out To Eat

Offering Up A Slice Of Teriyaki Pie
Pot Pies Are Darn Tasty
Pumpkin-Flavored Treats
Small Plates Are The Next Big Thing
Speedy 'za not pie in the sky
Steak: itís whatís for dinner, again
Summer coolers, just add sunlight
Summer Squash
Super Bowl Grub
Take A Walk On The Dark Side
Taste of Manchester Event
The Cosmopolitan
The joys of a simple oatmeal breakfast
The return of comfort food
The One-Note Cook Book
The New American Plate Cookbook
The Stickiest, Hottest & Sweetest Of Love's Labors
The taste of retro
The Unheralded Peanut Butter Cookies
The union of sweet and heat
The Weekly Dish (12-16-04)
The Weekly Dish (12-23-04)

The Weekly Dish [1-13-05]
There's a Barbecue Bonanza Next Door
Week Four: Adding Diet To The Mix
What Was Hot And Haute In 2004
When $$ trumps urge to dine out
When in doubt, go for the organic
When nothing else will cool, Slurp it
You Say Potato, She'll Say Potato,Too
You say tomato, writer says lunch