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Keep an eye out for bright orange balloons in Bethesda later this week. You can exchange them for free stuff. Panas Gourmet Empanadas is opening at 4731 Elm Street. Staffers are distributing the balloons throughout the neighborhood. Exchange yours on Friday afternoon for a free cholado or bring it in Saturday for one of the eatery’s signature empanadas.

Full details below:


Find a Panas balloon for a free treat Friday, 3-5 pm, Saturday 11 am – 1 pm

Empanadas, the favorite Latin American treat, have come to Bethesda with the opening of Panas Gourmet Empanadas  at 4731 Elm Street.  To mark the opening  Panas staff will be distributing bright orange balloons throughout the neighborhood which can be exchanged for a complementary treat on Friday and Saturday.

According to owner Federico Garcia Lopez a Panas balloon may be exchanged from 3 until 5 p.m. Friday (Sept 9) for a Cholado, a traditional Latin American specialty made of a crushed ice and fresh fruit. On Saturday (Sept 10) Panas will offer one free empanada from 11 am until 1 pm. in exchange for the balloons.

Panas specializes in Latin fusion gourmet empanadas, the crescent-shaped turnovers, stuffed with a variety of well-seasoned meats, vegetables, spices, fruits, and sweets. Signature recipes are inspired by the Latin Fusion cuisine; a culinary concept that combines traditional and modern gastronomic techniques with different ingredients from across the Americas.

The term “panas” is a unique abbreviation for the word empanadas. Coincidentally, the term “panas” also means “friend” or “buddy” in several Latin American countries, which is befitting to the Panas concept of friends coming together and eating empanadas.

The new restaurant is cheerful and bright with a mustard colored wall highlighted with green field turf. Serving in-restaurant and carry-out  the Panas menu includes 2.5 ounce empanadas ranging from meat, pork, chicken and ham filled delicacies like the Chipotle Steak with shredded sirloin steak, onion and chipotle sauce to vegetarian selections like the Popeye with sautéed spinach, onions, raisins and goat cheese.

Side salads with a Latin flair are also on the menu – the Primavera salad with red pepper, corn, cilantro and black beans is a favorite as is the Quinoa salad accompanied by mushrooms, baby spinach and dried cranberries.

Another specialty are Canoas, the South American term for small hollowed –out boats, the word from which the English term “canoe” is derived. Panas’ Canoas come with a selection of empanadas or a choice of skewers with Argentinean styled chorizo and baked plantain and an assortment of cheeses and olives. These, along with the Argentinean beers offered, have made Panas a quick favorite for after-work gatherings.

PANAS GOURMET EMPANADAS 4731 Elm Street, Bethesda  301.657.7371

Open 7 days, 11 am – 10 pm, M-Thurs; 11 am- 11pm, Fri-Sat; 11 am – 9 pm, Sun.

Photo courtesy of Panas Gourmet Empanadas