Home Food + Drink Everything Bagel Empanadas at Eira in Jersey City

Everything Bagel Empanadas at Eira in Jersey City

by Stephanie Spear
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Whether you call it Taylor ham or pork roll (let’s be real, it’s Taylor Ham), every card carrying-New Jerseyian knows it’s best served on a bagel. But one Jersey City restaurant has its own take on the classic breakfast order: in an empanada. Eira Mercearia is a Portuguese cafe in Downtown Jersey City, located at 24 Mercer Street. While the restaurant has been in business for two years, the empanadas are a new addition. HG sat down with the Eira team to learn more about the creative take on this classic item. Read on for everything we know about the everything bagel empanada at Eira. 

About Eira

The team behind the now-closed Broa restaurant opened Eira in the winter of 2020. Michael Casalinho and his wife Diana Santos had everything ready to open when the pandemic hit in March 2020, but didn’t open until December 2020.

Diana is from Porto, Portugal and Michael’s parents emigrated from Portugal to the US. He grew up in Hudson County and wanted to showcase both American and Portugueuse cuisine. Broa was known for its fusion cuisine, and Eira serves many of the same classic dishes. The cafe is open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday, and serves dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.  The menus highlight traditional Portuguese dishes with an emphasis on authentic ingredients imported from Portugal. Some of the traditional items get modern takes, too, like the pastel de nata, a custard tart that is a quintessential Portuguese dessert. “At dinner, we serve ours tempura-style,” Diana said.

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The cafe itself is sunny and welcoming. There is free wi-fi and dogs are welcome in the store. Pictures of Portugal adorn the walls and Portuguese music plays. On our recent visit, we saw patrons settling in for the day with laptops, ordering something warming from the coffee bar. In addition to traditional coffee drinks, specialty options include a turmeric latte, peppermint mocha latte, and a s’mores latte.

About the Empanadas

The empanadas are made in partnership with Cubita Cafe in Nutley. “They are our friends and we wanted to bring something different to Jersey City,” Diana said. “The dough is different, the way we make them is different. We already have fritters so we wanted to add on to that.”  The empanadas are made fresh daily by Cubita Cafe and delivered to Eira, where they are served hot and freshly baked.  The empanadas are available every day, and customers can work with the team to pre-purchase them to serve at home. “We can sell them frozen so the customer can bake them at home,” she said. “All of our fritters and pastries are available for pickup as well.”

The empanadas are either $4 or $4.50 each. The empanadas have been on the menu at Eira for about two weeks, but Diana says they’ve been a big hit.  “The Taylor ham has been big,” she said. “Same with the chorizo.”   The empanadas will now be a fixture on the menu, and there are plans to offer seasonal and special flavors as well as vegan options.  “We want to offer some more traditional Portuguese fillings like octopus,” Diana said.

Diana said that some people get the empanadas as a meal. “They’re not that big, but they’re very filling,” she said. The cafe’s location across from City Hall makes the empanadas a popular option for staffers to grab for a quick lunch. “You just need one or two and you’re good to go,” she said. Diana says that the empanadas’ size makes it easy to pair a sweet and savory flavor to get the ultimate flavor combination. She recommends the guava and cheese for that sweet note.

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The flavors include: bacon and egg, guava and cheese, beef, chicken, cheese, Taylor ham egg and cheese, chorizo egg and cheese. The vegetarian flavors are pumpkin and spinach and plantain and cheese. The chorizo egg and cheese and the Taylor ham egg and cheese come in an everything bagel seasoned empanada.

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