By Sylvester Grahame
La Olla Esmeraldena, Gran Colombia 13-62 and Estevez de Toral, is a jammed-packed joint that is as cheery as a day at the beach and has food that is both bright and welcoming.
Ceviches from $5, a hearty almuerzos or the extravagant, Mariscos al ajillo “La Olla Esmeraldena”, $11.50 — the most expensive item on the menu — all owe their allegiance to the intense flavors of the north coast of Ecuador, and all are highly recommended.
If you are looking for a burger and fries there are several places I might suggest, but if you want truly delicious fried fish and plantain, check out La Olla.
Marlene Nazareno had an earlier version of her restaurant just down the street. Known as Que Bueno Negra, it quickly grew in reputation until it was bursting out the seams, and over-working the chairs. When Nazareno decided to move her restaurant, always a tricky business, she committed herself to two things: she would remain in the neighborhood and close after lunch. Several months of searching and spreading the word later, she found exactly what she always wanted. And, it is perfect.
The spotless kitchen is airy and as inviting a cooking space as I have seen in a while. The passageway design allows for Nazareno to look after her customers whenever time allows, which, in my experience is isn’t often. Every time I’ve been there I had to grab a seat quickly before someone beats me to it.
But, wait! There’s more! La Olla Esmeraldena is completing a lovely patio in the rear, far removed from the traffic and bustle of Gran Colombia. Michael Wanner, (Marlene’s ball ‘n chain) will be hosting a few backyard concerts in the near future, something we should all look forward to; he is always entertaining and will be a fun complement to what may seem like a trip to the beach, be it only for lunch.
La Olla Esmeraldena, Gran Colombia 13.62 and Estevez de Toral; Hours: Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Phone: 098-488-6458: Comments: Home cooking like mamma used to make, only better.