Do you call Buenos Aires often? If not, you probably don't know to dial 5411 to reach it. But after a trip to the subterranean tunnels beneath 811 Louisiana Street, you'll be unlikely to forget those integers. Tucked in the tunnels below 811 Louisiana Street, 5411 Empanadas exists primarily as a fast-and-clean alternative to some of the heavier, messier underground culinary offerings.
But that shouldn't be what defines 5411. Though franchisee Nicolas Manrique offers the sorts of classic pies he ate in his native Argentina, including ground beef, ham-and-cheese and spinach-and-cheese, many of his empanadas are tailored to American tastes. That means big flavor in creations ranging from barbecue chicken to banana-Nutella.
5411 began in 2009 as a Chicago food truck. Its founders opened a storefront in 2012, with locations now in Miami as well as Manrique's Houston spot opened earlier this year. Manrique came to Houston two-and-a-half years ago with his wife, who works in oil and gas. At the time, he was in sales and marketing for Kraft. His artisan approach to his empanadas is a departure from the corporation. He bakes each one fresh every day, beginning early enough to have a full stock by his 7 a.m. opening.
Though he admits some tunnel denizens struggled with the concept of ready-made half-moon-shaped mini pies (many wanted to create their own like, say, a poke bowl), Manrique says the city's diversity meant almost as many diners were already familiar with and craving empanadas. Either way, we were sufficiently impressed to recommend venturing down to the tunnels even if you don't already spend your days there.