While the DC area is loaded with Mexican taquerias and Salvadoran pupserias, Guatemalan restaurants are a bit harder to come by. La Bamba Restaurant in Silver Spring is your spot to try Guatemalan food, which is similar to the food of its Mexican and Salvadoran neighbors but with its own unique twists. You will find Mexican food on the menu here, but that’s for the Gringos. That said, I was the only Gringo in the restaurant when I went.
Guatemala does have its own style of tacos, which are rolled up, fried and crisy, but I opted for the pepian de pollo, a chicken stew, at the waitress’s recommendation. I tend to favor red meat over chicken and don’t generally love stews but the special Guatemalan sauce that the chicken was stewed in was extra flavorful and the green hot sauce that they brought me added the perfect kick.
For dessert, I had the rellenitos, a sort of fried plantain made into the shape of an empanada and stuffed with a sweet black bean filling. While it may seem strange to the North American palate to have black beans for dessert, it’s really no different than red beans in Asian cuisine.
La Bamba certainly isn’t fancy, but this no-frills, homey spot serves inexpensive, soulful and satisfying meals.
La Bamba is located at 8241 Georgia Ave, Silver Spring, MD