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San Clemente Journal

The Real Empanada Healthy Beach Food On-the Go

Mar 28, 2022 02:47PM ● By Nina Welch

Marcelo Nonaca and Kenny Porter opened The Real Empanada at 219 Avenida Del Mar.

by Nina Welch

What’s an empanada you ask? Other Spanish cultures have their own version of this savory pastry, but The Real Empanada has a San Clemente vibe. It’s simple, healthy, take-out beach food.

 Cousins and business partners Marcelo Nonaca and Kenny Porter opened The Real Empanada at 219 Avenida Del Mar, last year in mid-November. Their fluffy and light turnovers are baked and come in various flavors: beef, chicken, ham and cheese, and lentil.

The inspiration for the lentil empanada came straight from Marcelo’s Argentinean grandmother’s recipe. The beef empanada is “Argentinean criollo style” with hard boiled eggs and olives. The chicken choice is citrus marinated and seasoned with herbs, while the ham and cheese is simply comfort food. Each empanada can be complimented with a choice of sauces inspired from different countries. These include Garlic Habanero from Mexico, Lemon-Tang from Peru, a Chamorro soy blend from Guam, and Chimi-churri from Argentina.

 “Every country in South America has their distinct version of an empanada. I just wanted to do something unique with flavors inspired by my Argentinean roots, places we’ve visited, people we met, and the experiences we enjoyed, and make it real here in San Clemente,” said Marcelo.
 “Our promise to the people is to provide a convenient and a healthier option to American Beach Food,” said Kenny. “We designed a unique takeout box fit for grab-n-go and ready for any corporate meeting, sporting event, beach picnic or any other gathering.”

 “We wanted to cater to the active lifestyle,” said Marcelo. “San Clemente is a haven for youth sports and the empanada is something healthier to eat between their matches or after a game – no utensils or plates necessary.” The cousins’ concept came about because their kids are very active in sports, and quick healthy meals became a necessity. Marcelo is a 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and boys in the family are varsity wrestlers at San Clemente High School.
 The two business partner/cousins make a great team. As a creative director from various startups, Marcelo is the brand architect while Kenny is the finance guru.

An essential part of the business proposal presented to the city prior to construction was to also include a mural depicting the San Clemente pier on the adjacent wall. The cousins were introduced to Joshua Paskowitz, renowned artist and member of the famous surfer family. Joshua was tasked to create something inspirational to celebrate the generations of surfing in San Clemente.

There’s something new happening on Del Mar. Grab some empanadas, share with friends or take to the beach. While you’re at it, snap a photo in front of a San Clemente 
Online ordering: Store hours everyday: 11am-7pm. 

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