If you are an aficionado of Argentine empanadas, you must visit Argenta in the western San José suburb of Escazú.
Empanadas, dough patties stuffed with a variety of fillings, mostly savory, are either baked or fried. They’re called by many different names and are eaten all over the world. In Latin America, the fillings and cooking methods differ from country to country. At Argenta, the Argentine empanadas are baked, unlike their Costa Rican cousins, which are usually fried and tend to be on the greasy side.
Argentines Christian Segovia and Marianna Garro settled in Costa Rica five years ago and opened their small empanada restaurant last November. Before that, Garro, who makes the empanadas, used to walk the streets with a basket, selling them hot. She also took orders at home until they saved enough money to open their own restaurant. Segovia runs the small establishment with its few colorful tables and chairs both inside and in front of the restaurant. People can enjoy their hot empanadas on the premises or take them home or to their office. Segovia says takeout business is “really booming.”
A lunchtime visit allowed four of us to sample 10 of the 17 empanada varieties on offer at Argenta. The crust’s light dough and the tasty fillings were delicious. The carne picante (spicy minced beef), the caprese filled with a generous portion of fresh tomato, the creamy mushroom and the spinach with cheese were definitely the favorites, but the bacon, onion and cheese and the meat and chicken fusion were also chomped with great gusto.
Argenta also offers three types of traditional meaty sandwiches: steak Milanese, choripán and Argentine sausage (₡2,000-₡3,000/$4-$6). We didn’t try them, but the portions looked generous and appetizing. Drinks from the fridge are the usual bottled ones, and the freshly brewed coffee was excellent.
Empanada prices are very reasonable at ₡600 ($1.20). For a small appetite, two would suffice, although most people could probably eat three or four. Garro also makes mini empanadas that are ideal finger food for parties (₡350/$0.70). These need to be ordered two days in advance.
Location: Centro Comercial Boulevard, 300 m south of Multiplaza Escazú
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sundays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Phone: 2201-5246, 8704-7878