So I was thinking about empanadas -- the tasty, stuffed-pocket dumplings popular throughout Latin America -- after trying to interest my boys in the beef empanadas at Goode Company's "Armadillo Palace" on Kirby. (Which, for the record, is a surprisingly negligible food location, despite some decent venison chili and the tasty aforementioned beef empanadas.) The Armadillo's version are pretty good, but they invite comparison with the much more impressive seafood empanadas at Goode Company Seafood, around the corner on Westpark: those are spicy and flavorful, with chunks of peppers and crawfish tails. Good stuff.
But Houston is awash in good empanadas. One place definitely worth checking out is Marine's, at 3227 Hillcroft in west Houston. Marine's, a Colombian mom'n'pop kitchen with a friendly atmosphere, claims 45 different stuffings ranging from the usual savory meats (beef, chicken, pork, etc.) to numerous sweet and fruit fillings. (Marine's also makes a mean arroz con pollo, and there's usually a soccer game playing on the TV.)
Somewhat more expensive (but still a relatively good deal, for an appetizer) is the "empanadita" plate at Churrascos. Chef Michael Cordua's little empanadas (usually a selection of beef, chicken, and shrimp with cheese, together with chile and cilantro dipping sauces) are more refined than Marine's, perhaps, but still pretty unassuming. And tasty.
I've heard excellent things about Marini's Empanada House in Katy, though I haven't had a chance to try it out yet; the problem, of course, being that if/when I get the craving for empanadas, there are just too many options available in the twenty miles between my house and Marini's. But the day will come.