Empanadas stuffed with smoked eggplant or chicken pesto? Get ready for Panas, a gourmet empanadas shop slated to open later this month at 4731 Elm St. in Bethesda. The counter-service restaurant will be the second location for owner and general manager Frederico Garcia-Lopez, who opened his first Panas last year at Dupont Circle (2029 P St. NW).
Garcia-Lopez said that for the most part, the new place will be the same concept and menu. “But we’re preparing a few surprises,” he said. Among them is a new Latin American-inspired dessert that Garcia-Lopez would only describe at this point as “healthy and refreshing.”
Garcia-Lopez started selling the gourmet turnovers about six years ago as a caterer and wholesaler, businesses he still operates from the company’s licensed kitchen in Rockville. (Balducci’s, for one, carries Panas.)
Among the favorite empanadas at the Dupont Circle restaurant are Chicken Melodia, grilled chicken thighs in a creamy, sauvignon blanc-mushroom sauce with onions and cilantro, and a beef empanada that includes green olives, Spanish peppers, hard boiled eggs, onions and parsley.
Garcia-Lopez said that aside from the unusual Latin fusion fillings, the empanadas are healthier than their more traditional predecessors. For one thing, they’re baked, not fried.
For more information, check out www.panasgourmet.com.