Delicious Empanadas and Ceviche -- Why Wouldn't I Be Happy? 03.29.2012

If you could see me right now, you would ask:  Why do you look so happy? And my answer would be:  Ceviche!

Ceviche is on my list of top five favorite foods of all time.  Ever.  It has all the best elements:  fish, lime, cilantro, and a range of other ingredients that can be there if you like, or not.  And the reason for my happiness?  I now have a source for excellent ceviche at a reasonable price.  

Last year,  Panas Gourmet Empanadas opened up on Elm Street in Bethesda.  I kept passing by, repeatedly making mental notes to myself to try it out.  Finally, I did.  This week.  Twice.

And if it wasn't enough that I found a ceviche source, Panas also serves excellent fusion-Argentinian empanadas with delicious sauces called drips.   If you love empanadas, I think you’ll agree that there is a gross shortage of restaurants serving wickedly delicious empanadas in the DC area.  

On my first visit, I wasn’t all that hungry but the Panas employee helping me suggested getting more than one empanada.  I’m glad I did.  Panas’ empanadas are satisfying but not overwhelming.  I could have had three. 

Carne Empanada with salsa verde and chimi drips, and plantain chips
The two empanadas I ate were carne (ground beef) with green olives, Spanish peppers, hard boiled egg, onion, and parsley; and smoked eggplant with onion, red peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and mozzarella.  My order came with plantain chips, and two drips. 

I love sauces so I was excited to try Panas version of salsa verde (loved it) and also tried chimi, which has cilantro, oregano, and other spices (also loved it).  The sauces are really good, but could use a little heat.

Second visit, we had wine.  A little light on the pour, but good wine.
On my second visit, I started with the ceviche, and almost placed a second order.  The level of lime was perfection.  Panas makes their ceviche either with tilapia or sea bass.  I then had the carne empanada and the CubaNovo, which is roasted pork with onions, cilantro, lime, and Grand Mariner.  I may have to repeat the CubaNovo on my next visit.  After I inhale the ceviche, of course.

The display case at Panas' Bethesda location.
There is a variety of other food at Panas as well as empanada combinations.  If you’re sharing with a friend, Panas has combinations that come in a boat-like plate with six or more empanadas and a choice of four drips. 

I also love the space.  Very airy -- you know how I feel about airy -- with see-through orange chairs and low tables with cushioned rattan chairs, and lots of natural light.  It's a no-fuss, quick eatery with a calm atmosphere -- a huge plus in my book.

The best empanadas I have ever – ever – eaten were in Bogota.  The commute to Bogota is a tad long, so I’ll stick with downtown Bethesda for now.  Having access to excellent ceviche may, however, turn into a problem.

Happy eating all!

 Panas Gourmet Empanadas
4731-A Elm Street
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
(301) 657-7371

2029 P Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 223-2964

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