First Look: Colombian Food at Los Parceros in West Palm Beach
When you think of Colombian food in South Florida, the first thing that probably comes to mind is Colombian fast food -- those overstuffed hot dogs and hamburgers with every topping known to man (and then some). And you'd be correct; The Colombians have taken these simple American eats and turned them into edible masterpieces, piled with a colorful collage of ketchup, mayonnaise, rosada and salsa piña -- the essential pineapple puree -- all atop boiled hot dogs and hamburger patties finished with cheese, potato chips, bacon and shredded beef or chicken.
Nicole Danna The Los Parceros burger with two tostones "buns."
But finding truly authentic Colombian fare north of Dade County -- especially in Palm Beach -- isn't easy. Now, it doesn't have to be thanks to Los Parceros, a restaurant named for the Colombian slang term that roughly translates to amigo -- but more like your "partner in crime" type amigo. Here, the partners in crime would be co-owners Amanda Olmstead and Karina Patino, who opened Los Parceros early last year, just off the Florida Turnpike at the Okeechobee exit. Together, they offer traditional Colombian fare, from the familiar empanadas and tostones, to more culture-specific dishes like aborrajado, salchipapa, rellenitos and a family recipe for bandeja paisa.
See also: La Perrada Del Gordo in West Palm Beach
The tiny spot offers a dim-lit dining space with several tables and a high-top counter where you can eat-in for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; or order take-out from the convenient walk-up counter. Whenever you arrive, do so for the empanadas and burgers -- both a few of Patino's house specialities. And come hungry.
The menu covers all manner of Colombian fast food, including the traditional street food-style burgers and hot dogs the likes you'd find at Miami's La Moon Restaurant, but also a few authentic regional dishes made exactly as you'll find them in Patino's home city of Pereira. Many of the picks are variations of Patino's family recipes, dishes she learned to make from her mother, but also given her own unique twist -- slight variations that make it hard to decide what version you'll order.
Olmstead will insist you order Patino's empanadas ($1). A different breed than the Spanish or South American versions, they're tiny -- a Colombian trait -- with a thick, crunchy, cornmeal shell stuffed with a tasty forcemeat, a flavorful combination of beef and potato blended to a creamy consistency. They're served with a small cup of Patino's own ají picante, a spicy Colombian sauce made with green chile peppers, onion, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar and accented with cumin. Get them on Thursday or Saturday, when you can pick each up for just $.50, all day long.