By Danny R. Johnson
ANNAPOLIS, MD – Let’s say you are visiting the Washington, DC area, and you have a taste for a restaurant that has bold flavors and vibrant cultures of Central and South America, Cuba and the Latin Caribbean. Where would you go? Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar, located in Annapolis, Maryland is the place. You will fall in love with their homemade guacamole, slow-roasted meats, fresh seafood, and handcrafted Mojitos.
Annapolis, which is the capital of Maryland, is only a one-hour drive from DC and 40 minutes drive from Baltimore, is worth the trip because when you enter Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar you will be entering the Latin Caribbean. It’s not so much the décor of the place, which is quite elaborate, but not overblown, it is the service, food and drinks that makes this restaurant one of the more captivating restaurants to open in the past year, with food that outstrips an atmosphere that is festive while relaxing at the same time.
ATMOSPHERE AND SERVICE
Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar prides itself on making each customer feel special through its professional waiter service. Have you ever been in restaurants and asked the waiter about specific aspects of their menu – and the waiter gets this dumb look on his face because he does not know anything about the menu? Just waiting on you to give him that tip. Well, that is not the case with Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar; all the waiters are professionals and must know the menu, which is quite extensive, front and back! On this particular Saturday night, our waiter, whose name was Kiern, was able to answer satisfactorily all the menu questions we threw at him. In fact, if he was not sure about a certain item, he went back to the kitchen to ask the chef – now that is what we call a professional waiter who knows how to serve the customer’s needs.
A server who is courteous and has excellent manners brings out the meals. The dinnerware is clean and the food is presented in the accepted manner for most upscale restaurants. In addition, the waiter gave us about a good three minutes of us eating to check and see if everything was okay – and yes – everything was okay.
FOOD AND DRINKS
Latin food connoisseurs will simply be delighted with Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar’s variety of Latin entrees on the menu. Taste one of 10 of their delicious appetizers such as the Rum Soaked Mahi-Mahi Tiny Tacos. These are not your ordinary tacos – they are smoked mahi-mahi mixed with herbed mayonnaise, golden raisins and capers, served in housemade malanga shells topped with pickled jalapenos and shredded romaine. The appetizer dishes are reasonably priced from $9.95-$10.95. My guest and I selected dinner entrées from the main menu. The selections included Grilled Chicken with Roasted Tomato Salsa and the Cuban Braised Beef Ropa Vieja, which is slowed cooked shredded skirt steak served over sweet plantains, rice pilaf, Adobo black beans topped with red onion and Jicama slaw and spicy Aji pepper sauce.
My guest rated the Grilled Chicken with Roasted Tomato Salsa as simply outstanding for its presentation and taste. The meal consists of two plump and juicy grilled chicken breasts marinated in house Mojo, and served with rice pilaf, Adobo black beans and drizzle with roasted tomato salsa. You can actually taste the lightly fruity marinade sauce as you bite into the tender chicken with all the combination of ingredients. Dinner entrees prices range from $15.95-$17.95. Moreover, the portions are quite generous.
Now take a sip of Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar’s smooth and elegant Mango Iced Tea Mojito and you will swear that you are in Cuba. This house specialty created by the bar’s mixologist, is served with muddled fresh mint, lime and sugar with mango rum, Southern Comfort, mango nectar and fresh brewed mango iced tea. Your tongue will swoon with delight when sipping on this drink.
The restaurant’s buxom list of tequilas and specialty rum drinks is the largest in the Washington, DC area. No other bar in Annapolis and Baltimore has the extensive listings of specialty rums as Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar – why do you think they call it a Rum Bar? The bar carries premium tequilas and flavored spice rums; white, gold, dark and aged rums from just about every major rum and tequila producing country in Latin America and the Caribbean is available for you to enjoy.
Wine connoisseurs need not be dismayed – for the bar has in stock all the major red and white wines from California, South America, Europe and Latin America. Hey, what about the beer drinkers – what is for me? Relax, the bar has you covered as well – you have unlimited choices to select from. Tell the mixologist to hook you up with premium lagers from Mexico, Brazil, Trinidad, Holland, Germany, Jamaica, and yes, some lagers right here in the good ole USA! The bar is very lively on the weekends – and the happy hours are excellent occasions to sample their premium lagers for half price.
The desserts at Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar are truly works of art. The professional chefs are constantly creating new items to add to the list of choices readily available on their menu. Their beautifully composed Mango Margarita Tart is a stroke of creative confection genius. This dessert is refreshing tropical custard served in a graham cracker crust, topped with rum macerated berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberry puree) and fresh whipped cream. Simply delicious. For the reasons cited in this review, San Diego County News has rated Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar as the BEST Latin Restaurant in the Annapolis and Baltimore area!
Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar has steadily improved its loyal customer base since opening in Annapolis and Cleveland, Ohio in September 2010. The word is out – if you want good Latin cuisine and a large selection of fine wines and premium rums – this is the place to go.
Paladar Latin Kitchen and Rum Bar – Annapolis, Maryland
1905 Towne Centre Boulevard, Suite 100, Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Phone (410) 897-1022, Fax (410) 897-1033
Lunch & Dinner
Sun – Thu: 11am to 10pm
Fri – Sat: 11am to 11pm
Late Night Dining
Sun -Thu: Until 11pm
Fri – Sat: Until 12am
Sun -Thu: Until 11pm
Fri – Sat: Until 1am
Danny R. Johnson is San Diego County News’ Washington, DC based Entertainment & Travel News Editor