From NW Africa last week to NW South America this week. For the food of Colombia I visited Los Paisas Restaurant in Charlotte. It’s tucked away in the corner of a shopping center just north of Pineville. The parking lot was busy but the restaurant wasn’t bad and I got seated immediately. The restaurant has a bar and a few tables in the bar area where I was seated. They had soccer games going on a couple of big screen TVs as well as some Latin music playing in the background. The staff hung around the bar area chatting and prepping when they weren’t helping customers. It was a very relaxed atmosphere.
It only took a minute with the menu to pick out my selection since it was named Bandeja Tipica Colombiana. I didn’t know what Bandeja was but I could figure out Tipica Colombiana and the waiter confirmed the menu suggestion that it was a “house favorite”. I was originally going to have just water but they have an interesting array of juices you can get made from water or milk. I went with mamey with milk since I’d never heard of a mamey before. Since it was my first trip to Los Paisas the waiter brought a complimentary empanada as an appetizer.
This was smaller that most empanadas that I’d had before but it was tasty, especially with the salsa verde he brought. Speaking of the salsa verde that stuff was pretty good and to paraphrase that old lady from the Frank’s Red Hot commercial, I tried that $@*T on everything. When they brought out the Bandeja Tipica Colombiana I was pretty impressed with the volume of food. I thought it was going to be a typical menu picture that maximized the appearance and amount of food but if anything the picture undersells it.
There was steak, sausage, crackling pork, an egg, avocado, plantain, beans, rice and an arepa all piled on that plate. Two people could have shared that an walked away happy. As it was I managed to do some major damage but had to leave some rice, beans and pork behind to leave bloated and happy.
The grilled steak was a thin cut and didn’t have much seasoning at all but not bland in any way. The sausage was good but I honestly expected it to be spicy and it was not. In fact nothing was spicy with heat and the waiter mentioned it wouldn’t be and he could bring some hot sauce if needed. As mentioned earlier I did try the salsa on everything. The plantain was a sweet variety as opposed to some of the simply starchy varieties. Beans, rice and eggs were nothing special but did their job as competent fillers. The crackling pork was just that, cooked to crackling on the top and less so closer to the skin. Also not much seasoning so you got the true taste of the fried pork meat. My first thought was it was a bit bland but it paired nicely with the arepa. The arepa is a thick corn tortilla and the consistency reminded me of the cornmeal dumplings my Grandfather used to make. By itself it was also kind of meh but it went with everything and I could see why it is their bread substitute and why there are so many different recipes with it if you look for them. I wasn’t sure what the avocado was really supposed to go with so I just scooped it out of the skin and ate a little bit with everything and it worked.
The mamey milk juice was pretty good too. It was a little sweet and the flavor reminded me of a mild strawberry more than anything else.
I mentioned my Grandfather earlier and I couldn’t help but think of him as I ate. This meal, aside from the avocado and plantain, felt like something he would have thoroughly enjoyed. Yes I’m sure that Southern American would have like this South American plate.
Check out the arepa recipe and other tidbits on the Tell Me More page. Below is the restaurant website and you should use it to get the address and check them out.
Los Paisas Restaurant