Saturday in Santiago: Empanadas from Emporio Manos en la Masa

It’s September, and in Chile that means several things. September 18th is the Chilean equivalent to the 4th of July in the US, and here they go all out. As soon as September 1st rolls around, stores get decked out in red, white and blue bunting, supermarkets offer dieciocho-related sales (think wine, pisco and beef, all the elements of a good barbecue), and radio stations start playing classic cuecas. People start thinking about the long weekend coming up and planning holidays at a nearby beach, like Algarrobo or Quintero. Plus, more interestingly to me, the empanada comes into the spotlight.

Empanadas aren’t unique to Chile – you can find them in plenty of other Latin American countries. And they aren’t unique to September – you can buy them all over the place year-round. But they are very Chilean, and as such, there’s a renewed focus on them during Chile’s national month. That’s why this month, Saturday in Santiago will be dedicated to our favorite spots to pick up an empanada in Santiago.

The most typical Chilean empanada is filled with pino, which in this case doesn’t mean pine tree but rather a mixture of beef, onion, spices and always one slice of hard-boiled egg and one black olive (with the pit still in, so be careful) per empanada. It’s good, but some of my favorites are the less traditional combinations.

A couple months ago, Rodolfo and I stumbled across one of our now favorite spots for empanadas: Emporio Manos en la Masa. It’s located in the Mercado Diego de Almagro, on the corner of Diego de Almagro and Los Leones in Providencia. The market itself has seen better days, to be honest, although there appears to be a loyal crowd for Saturday lunch at the seafood restaurant.

Mercado Diego de Almagro

This little corner of the market, however, is just getting started. The guy running the joint is the son of the baker, and he told me that they’ve only been here for 4 months. They run their main business out of their house on the corner of Bustos and Willie Arthur and have been doing so for 4 or 5 years. The idea behind leasing a new place was to get out of the house, but the loyal clientele in their original spot means that instead of closing it, they’ve just ended up with two locations.

Emporio Manos en la Masa

I can see why the loyal following. The range of options isn’t huge, but it’s solid and has a couple creative flavors on there like Española and mechada.

Empanada menu

I picked up three of our favorites this morning: pino picante, traditional pino with a hit of spice; champiñon, mushroom and cheese; and mechada.


It’s precisely this last flavor which gives insight into the overall quality of these empanadas. Carne mechada is a preparation which takes time – the meat is studded with carrots and garlic then slowly cooked with more carrots and onion to create a pot roast-like texture. Emporio Manos en la Masa could just offer a beef and cheese empanada, but going the extra mile provides a homey flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture.

Carne mechada empanada

The test of a good pino is always the meat to onion ratio. This pino picante has nice big chunks of beef, and the merkén adds a smoky spice.

Pino picante empanada

My favorite though is the champiñon. Usually I think big chunks are better than little pieces – I’d rather have a nice jumbo prawn than cut up bits of shrimp, for example – but here I think the secret is in the chopping. The mushroom flavor really permeates the whole empanada, and the texture is consistent. I never get a mouthful of just cheese, it’s all deliciously mushroom-y and perfectly salted.

Mushroom and cheese empanada

Of course, empanadas aren’t just filling. A heavy crust can kill even the best flavor. These crusts are thin and light, the perfect complement to what’s inside.

Empanada fillings

“Manos en la masa” literally means “hands in the dough,” but being caught with your “hands in the dough” is the Spanish equivalent of being caught with your hand in the cookie jar doing something wrong. In this case, you can taste the homemade, hands-on goodness in all of these empanadas, and there’s nothing wrong about it. September’s shaping up to be a pretty good month.

More in this series:
Saturday in Santiago

19 Responses to “Saturday in Santiago: Empanadas from Emporio Manos en la Masa”

  1. Ash says:

    You really know your cooking, don’t you, Emily??? I notice you’re amazing with picking up flavors and understanding food in general. I, on the other hand, am terrible at this. Teach me, wise one!!! XOXO

    • Emily says:

      Aww, thanks girl! Mostly I just try to BS something about what I tasted, so I’m glad to hear I’ve got you fooled :) I will try to impart some wisdom at dinner tonight!

  2. Marmo says:

    That´s reasonable close to our burrow, so we´ll add it to our “to do” list. Thanks Emily, they look nice!

  3. Leslie says:

    Yum. Added to my growing list of things to eat in this great city! Thanks for the detailed report. So, are you going to Majorca para el 18? 😉

    • Emily says:

      Happy to help populate that list!

      And we will be staying in Santiago for 18. Just trying to earn a few extra pesos through the blog to buy more empanadas.

  4. Ayngelina says:

    Oh man we need to go for empanadas when I finally make it down.

    Although I don’t care for Argentinean food, they do make good spinach empanadas, so much so that I gained 5 lbs – no joke.

    • Emily says:

      Sounds like a plan! As you will see, this place offers spinach empanadas, and Chilean empanadas tend to be larger than their Argentine counterparts, so I’m giving you fair warning.

  5. Oneika says:

    So excited to try some of these places out when I get to Santiago!!!!

  6. Emily! Thanks so much for these blogs! I have been checking out your recommendations – and you’re always spot on! I especially loved Jewel of India! So I’m sure this will be great too! :)

    • Emily says:

      Glad to help! Jewel of India is so yummy…I want to go back, but there are so many new places I want to try too. Tough life, I know.

  7. We’ll have to take Lucas there when we come to visit!!! On a side note: I recently found out that Argie’s consider “empanada” a bad word haha.

    • Emily says:

      Oh really? I had no idea, I just know empanadas as the food. Clearly I’m not up on my Argentinean slang – come visit so Lucas can fix that!

  8. Amanda says:

    Holy YUM!!!!! Man, I’m craving a good empanada!

  9. Kyle says:

    This post just made me nostalgic for empanadas. We’ll be gone for 18, boooooo!!!

    • Emily says:

      You guys need to go to the pre-18 events next year since you’re always gone for the day itself…I know Parque Bicentenario did something two weekends ago, and Parque Intercomunal started this past weekend.

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