Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas Lunch at Casa Panza in Little Havana

Casa Panza
1620 SW 8th St
Miami, FL 33135
(305) 643-5343

Christmas Day found us at odd ends. We were hoteled out, puffy from drinking and a little weary of South Beach. D steeled himself, rented a car and lit a fire under my ass to get me out of bed before noon. We jumped in the car and headed out in search of lunch. We had been toying with the idea of Little Havana the entire trip, so we thought we would have a drive-by just for a look-see.

Low and behold, Casa Panza's doors were wide open.


Casa Panza is a Spanish restaurant/music venue with live music and dancing nearly every night of the week. We would have had a great time here had we chosen to venture from South beach after dark. But alas, vacation makes one lazy.

The interior is quite lovely, despite the Christmas accents. Working retail has taught me to hate Christmas decor. It tends to cheapen everything in my eyes. Nevertheless, this restaurant was inviting and fun.

We sat at the bar and chatted with a Cuban guitarist and his wife who was running the joint for the day. D ordered a Spanish beer.

I sipped a sangria, drunk with chunks of fruit and spirit strengthened red wine.

To start, D ordered the white bean soup with ham. This might be the best tasting thing I ate the entire trip.

The chunks of ham were immense and the soup was clearly homemade.

For Christmas brunch, I ate shrimp in some lovely pepper sauce. I cannot even remember what the heez this was but it was nice.

D's entree was more memorable. It was a pan rice dish with lots of saffron, peas, carrots and chicken. All cooked in one pan. Granted, some of the veggies seemed frozen or canned instead of fresh. And the meal was not fancy. But the flavors were good, and I am still thinking about that soup.

I cannot wait to return to Casa Panza. After dark, with the music playing, with a cigar in my hand made by the cigar factory across the street in Little Havana.

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