Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Panas Empanadas

After missing the Dupont Circle Farmers Market by just a few minutes (they close at 1pm!), John and I were disappointed and hungry. We had literally stepped into the market only a few feet behind the girl who rings the cowbell to let everyone know the stalls are closing.

Leaving with both empty stomachs and empty grocery bags, we walked down P street in search of an afternoon snack. But just by chance we stumbled upon a delicious lunch at Panas Gourmet Empanadas.

This quick-eats restaurant is so cute with its modern decor and made-to-order empanadas, that we couldn't resist sharing a combo with plantain chips. Each empanada that they serve is a unique twist on a classic Argentine staple and is about the size of the palm of your hand. There are a number of interesting combinations to choose from and a ton I didn't ever expect to be on this kind of menu: eggplant, onions, red peppers and mozzarella; chipotle steak and onions; shrimp, coconut and cilantro.

One thing that impressed me most about Panas was how they identify what's inside each empanada before you even take a bite. Since people tend to order a handful at a time, and since they all look the same on the outside, each corner is stamped with letters indicating what's inside. So for example, the Carne empanada is marked with the letters CA so everyone knows it has beef, green olives, Spanish peppers, hard boiled egg, onions and parsley inside (they give you a key, so people like me don't have to stress about which letters mean what kind... I liked that).

I really thought the restaurant had a unique idea with their modern decor, tasty combinations and useful stamping technique. If you're ever in the neighborhood I would definitely recommend stopping by. You're bound to find a new kind of empanada that you'll come back for again and again.