Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quesos Chela

If you are driving between Panama City and the Pacific beaches, you will pass Quesos Chela and you will see tons of cars packing the parking lot, and you will wonder.  You will wonder, "What's so great about that place?"or "is it really worth stopping?"  I'm here to tell you it is.

Quesos Chela is a take-out place in Capira, and on the weekend it's busy.  The queues are chaotic and, if you don't have experience getting in line for things in Panama, daunting.  My advice, just relax, look around, figure out more or less what want (two or three people will probably push in front of you while you do this) and then really get in line.  When you are really in line, pay attention, and keep moving to the front with determination (very similar advice could be given about driving in Panama).  If you don't hesitate, the line will move quickly, if you do hesitate, people will butt in front.

Buy some cheese.  The cheese here is all mild, fresh cheese.  I like wedges of the big, round, fresh cheeses (plain. or  with herbs or olives).  These seem tastier to me, and have better texture than the cheeses that are prepackaged.  The vacuum packed cheese always seems a bit rubbery.  The bread is delicious, crusty and chewy.  Don't make the mistake of buying just one of anything!
The empanadas are excellent.  Like any fried food theses are best fresh, and at this place, everything is fresh.  The crispy, corn flour pastry is a little sweet and an excellent foil for the salty fresh cheese inside.  This kind of empanada is sold all over the place in Panama, but they are rarely as good as these are.

So get out of the climate controlled comfort of your car and get into a hot, pushy line to buy some cheese and empanadas.  I promise you, it's worth it!

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