If you need something to munch on during the Argentina soccer games — or your kid's soccer games, for that matter — you might consider empanadas, those nicely portable filled pastries, especially now that you have a new empanada outlet from which to get them. Nonna's Empanadas opened yesterday on Third street, conveniently across from Cedars-Sinai, should you need something more edible than hospital food.

The Argentine owners, Mario Ekmekgian and Graciella Boltiansky, and Ekmekgian's son Eduardo, who is the manager, have created a cheery place, with lots of seating in a relatively small space, both inside and on the street. Nonna's menu is comprised, as you'd expect, mostly of empanadas, and these nicely sized pastries are notable for the cute branded names on the side, for the nicely crimped tops, for the good variety of fillings — onion and mozzarella, ham and cheese, beef with jalapeño, and breakfast empanadas; there are currently a dozen and the owners are planning more — and for the fact that they are not fried but baked.

The pastries, which are extremely popular in Argentina, as well as in Portugal, Spain, Italy and in other South and Central American countries, are often fried, although some of us think that the flavors of the fillings and the quality of the dough is best appreciated when empanadas are baked instead of plunged into a vat of hot oil.

As for the name, “everybody has a nonna,” the Spanish word for grandmother, said Ekmekgian last night. Now we have a Nonna's too. And soon we'll have it around the clock, as Boltiansky says that they'll be open 24/7 in about two weeks. In addition to empanadas and a large menu of tostinos (imagine panini with thinner slices of bread), Nonna's has Italian sodas and espresso drinks. In keeping with the low prices of the pastries — the empanadas are $2.95 each — a demitasse of espresso goes for $1.50, a cappuccino for $2.50. There are also croissants, tiramiso and mate, or Argentine tea. Oh, and also jars of homemade chimichurri sauce, which is pretty great for empanada-dunking.

Nonna's Empanadas: 8570 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles; (310) 385-0445.

interior of Nonna's Empanadas; Credit: A. Scattergood

interior of Nonna's Empanadas; Credit: A. Scattergood

LA Weekly