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Dec 2, 2009 01:01 PM

Food from Panama in DC area?

Hi I've been living almost 3 years in DC area, and still I haven't found any restaurants or even a product that says "made in Panama" I know my country is so small so I understand why most of the sweet and green plantains come from Colombia, etc... but for restaurants I thought I would find something.

I was told there was a place on NE that sells "frituras" (fried yuca, empanadas, hojaldres, etc) but I was also told that the location is kind of dangerous and besides I can pretty much make all those fried stuff myself.

How I wish I had enough $$ to feed DC people with Panamanian food, a cross of Caribbean and Latin cuisine =)


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  1. I haven't heard of any place devoted to panamanian food. Who knows, maybe there are some dishes at a restaurant that is categorized differently, though.

    Here is a link for Tyler Cowen's Ethnic Dining Guide. It's a very good resource for what's out there. The only limitation is that it is principally one man's opinion.


    1. There used to be an annual Panamanian festival in Arlington that had pretty good food; I haven't heard anything about it in a few years, but that might be worth checking out, both for the food and for tips on places that serve it. You may also want to check w/ the Panamanian Embassy.

      I miss Panama; I could go for a good corvina ceviche now, and how can you dislike a country where they look at you with blank stares if you ask for jugo de piña con ron (a glass of pineapple juice with some rum), but have no questions at all if you ask for ron con jugo de piña (a glass of rum topped off with a splash of pineapple juice)?

      3 Replies
      1. re: sweth

        You got that right! =) my grandpa would have it usually with a splash of milk, don't ask please. lol

        I always have to make my own ceviche. ive found that in DC most of the ceviches are made either with tilapia or just shrimps... i love the octopus and seabass (corvina)...

        perhaps i should have a little cart selling ceviches and fried green plantains with chorizo on sticks =D that would make me so happy...


        1. re: helenahimm

          If someone were to start selling good corvina and pulpo ceviches, I would keep them in business single-handedly.

          1. re: helenahimm

            Helena -- Just FYI, I recently found a place in Crystal City with a good (Peruvian-style) ceviche; no corvina, but they have pulpo, pargo, and a bunch of other non-tilapia fish and shellfish in it. Check out my recent post re: Playa Azul.

        2. Another thought--you might want to hit Caribbean Grill for their ropa vieja, or for ceviche try Ceiba or Oyamel; neither has corvina or pulpo, but they at least have non-tilapia/shrimp ceviches like red snapper, rockfish, tuna, etc.

          3 Replies
          1. re: sweth

            You have great taste, I promise to invite you some of my Ropa Vieja some day =)

            I should try Oyamel, I've heard great things about them both (Ceiba).

            I love shrimps and Tilapia, but Shrimps are usually over cooked when I've had them in restaurants.

            I will try Caribbean Grill though...

            What are your thoughts on Cafe Salsa on King St.?

            1. re: helenahimm

              Not a fan of Cafe Salsa; too many things (including the ropa vieja) are built on a very bland tomato sauce base. Most of the food there in general I find very bland. Others seem to like it a lot, though.

              1. re: sweth

                I agree about the Ropa Vieja.. I can say it didnt taste bad, it was just missing seasoning and salt... the plantains (sweet fried) one of the few places i've tasted decent because they were properly mature before frying, but a friend told me the opposite so I guess I was just lucky with the plantains that day =)

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