Tuesday, March 24, 2009


5th and Brazos
Austin, Tx


Last week I was out and about downtown with Eric during SXSW and found myself with a grumbley tummy. I’d been to several shows that had free food, but I was sick of eating cold nachos and taquitos. I wanted some real food! But where to get real food, during SXSW on 6th that wouldn’t involve a huge line or selling my soul for a table? The answer came to me in a the form of an aromatic breeze that wafted down 5th street. Why not try one of the multitude of street carts? But I didn’t want to patron a fly by night, big event only, reheated fajita cart. I wanted something I knew I could come back to on a regular basis, so I suggested the empanada cart on 5th and Brazos.

I’d heard about the Mmmpanada cart a few months ago off the grapevine and had been meaning to try it for a while. But it seems like the few times I tried to go, instead of finding a cart full of delicious empanadas, I found a cold empty lot of nothingness. Note to all you readers, if you want to go, make sure you check their website to be sure they’ll actually be there (they frequently aren’t). This time, however, I wasn’t disappointed. Eric walked, and I hobbled over to the corner and was surprised to discover there was absolutely no line. Even amongst all the hubbub of SXSW, Mmmpanadas seemed to be an undiscovered secret.

We walked right up and were greeted by a very friendly empanador (that’s totally made up btw). They have a stellar 2 empanada and a drink combo for $7 and change that both Eric and I went with. I got one savory pie, the special, a Mole chicken filled empanada, and one sweet pie, the Smores. I figured since there was no fire involved, that I could be safe to enjoy me empanada in non-flammable bliss. Eric went with two savory pies, the Spinach Mushroom empanada, and *I think* the Chopped BBQ, but I’d already been drinking pretty heavily, so don’t quote me on that one.

We waited on the curb for no longer than 2 or 3 minutes and then were handed four paper sleeves with piping hot empanadas in them. Our food mission had been accomplished! But where to eat? Looking around we noticed a lack of seating at the corner of 5th and Brazos. Most of the other established food carts either have seating (a la Austin Trailer Park Eatery) or set up shop in a location where seating is close (a la the new Texadelphia trailer outside the 6th St Little Woodrow's). When I asked the friendly empanador where we could sit, he politely shrugged. Luckily, an associate empanador had just arrived and he directed us to the One 2 One bar right across the street. He said they allow people to eat their Mmmpanadas there. Food mission number 2 accomplished!

I took literally 5 minutes to climb the stairs to One 2 One’s incredibly huge roof top patio. But I was quickly rewarded with comfortable seating, a table to eat on, a vodka tonic in my hand, and lovely views of other SXers bustling on the street below. We enjoyed our empanadas while a light breeze carried the mingled sounds of 5 different bands playing, but it was a welcome respite in our busy evening.

The empanadas themselves were pretty good. The crust was amazing - lightly golden, with a nice firm bite. There was no filling gooping out of holes in a chalky crust, only silky, crisp goodness. The filling itself left slightly more to be desired. My mole empanada was good, but the sauce had a tendency to be a little cloyingly sweet. It wasn’t a nice a complex Mole, but for a $3 street cart taco I would consider it quite good. Eric’s Spinach and Mushroom filling was also a little lacking. The spinach was fresh and tasty, but in the huge bite I took, I noticed none of the promised mushrooms or pine nuts, so the whole endeavor ended up being kind of flat and bland. The sweet Smores empanada was also a mixed bag. The pie was absolutely stuffed with warmed marshmallow fluff with a thin ribbon of chocolate sauce. I was kind of hoping it would have been filled with actual marshmallows and chocolate chunks. That being said, again for $3, it is a great deal. I, for one, will definitely be going back, AND, since they’re open till 3am most week nights, I might even make it a regular stop on my post 6th street drunken binge-eating tour.

Bottom Line: Wonderful pastry crust with respectable filling

Mariah - 8