First Bites

Empanada Harry's Bakery & Café Serves Fresh Empanadas in West Kendall

Photo by Alona Abbady Martinez
Harry and Michelle Coleman have a simple mission for Empanada Harry's, which opened in April 2017: Offer gourmet versions of the Venezuelan pastries they've loved for years.

The couple's baking career began in 2008, when the Great Recession stifled their goals of becoming journalists. Instead, they took over Harry's grandmother's South Beach bakery, Charlotte, which specializes in Venezuelan pastries and breads. They spent the next decade running the popular spot.

"I decided I needed to learn how to make everything," Harry says. Eventually, the commute from their Kendall home to South Beach became too taxing, so the couple began looking for options nearby. They sold Charlotte a few months ago to dedicate their time to their own space. "We felt this area needed something. Not everything has to be in Wynwood or South Beach or downtown."

They fell in love with a former tea shop in a faded peach strip mall and designed everything themselves. Michelle is responsible for the colorful murals. With tables made of refurbished wood pallets lined by neon-orange chairs, the space is warm and inviting. "You know how you are seeing this whole gastropub scene? Why not bring that to the bakery?" Harry explains.

The couple offers 22 original empanada varieties that represent their take on the flavors of Venezuela, Chile, Peru, and Argentina. Try the Venezuelan pabellón, deep-fried and filled with the national dish of shredded beef, black beans, cheese, and plantains; or the Peruvian, a slightly sweet dough that's filled with ground beef, egg, and spicy ají amarillo, baked, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Empanada Harry's also rolls out a monthly flavor, announced on Instagram. Past offerings have included the Oktoberfest empanada, filled with German sausage, sauerkraut, and mustard, and November's Thanksgiving empanada of turkey with rosemary and sage. This month's featured empanada is Korean barbecue: bulgogi filled with thinly sliced marinated meat stir-fried with veggies.

Harry's also offers two vegan options: a veggie empanada and a vegan "meat" empanada. Prices range from $1.75 to $3.70.

The Colemans are keen on making their bustling space a meeting place at all hours and are creating a special beer- and wine-pairing menu to debut later this month. They're also working with local breweries such as Wynwood, Biscayne Bay, and Funky Buddha. Customers can sample three empanada flavors with three different beers or wines. First on the menu will be a tuna poke empanada, filled with the Hawaiian raw-fish salad that has taken Miami's food scene by storm.  

Brunch, served Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., is another outlet for Harry's creativity. Dishes include eggs Benedict (poached eggs over crisp arepa, shredded beef, hollandaise sauce, and guasacaca, Venezuela's version of guacamole) and the classic Venezuelan corn pancake cachapa, which, like everything else at Empanada Harry's, is made from scratch. Prices range from $5.99 to $14.99.

Empanada Harry's
. 4009 SW 152nd Ave., Miami; 786-313-3888;
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Alona Abbady Martinez lives in Plantation. She writes about food and family on her blog, Culinary Compulsion, and is working on her book, My Culinary Compulsion, a global food memoir with recipes."

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