CHASING THE MAP

Where To Eat In Esperanza – Bananas

After a day at Sun Bay, I wasn’t especially hungry for a heavy meal. I decided to park at the beginning of the strip in Esperanza, and walk around to scope out my options. My first thought was Duffy’s, because I’ve eaten there in the past. It was there that I was also introduced to the Bushwacker, one of the tastiest frozen drinks that has passed between my lips. I did walk by, but then decided to backtrack to the restaurant just next door, Bananas.

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The restaurant was slow, as were most of them, considering it was midday. Davin, my waiter, greeted me and told me that I could grab a seat anywhere. I decided on a hightop right next to the street, and across from the beautiful sea. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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First things first, I needed a cold and refreshing drink. After looking at the menu, I decided on a pina colada. They had a variety of flavors along with the original, so I decided on the passionfruit. When Davin returned, he delivered the traditional colada, not the passionfruit. I’m on an island, so no problem. So something got lost in translation. It was all good, and the drink was tasty, with just enough rum.

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Next, onto the menu. As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t all that hungry, so I fixed my sights on the appetizers and small plate options. I was impressed with the amount of options they offered. Things like jerk chicken rangoon, garlic basil gorgonzola bread, and pork mofongo spring rolls really jumped out at me.

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I ended up ordering the amarillos (sweet plantains) ($6) with a chipotle, mango, and guava sauce, and the coconut crusted mahi bites served with a chipotle lime aioli. I was not disappointed with my choices. The amarillos were puffy and sweet and had a nice caramelization to them. The sauce was a great pairing and offered a touch of heat to offset the sweetness of the amarillos. The mahi bites ($10) were nicely crusted, thick little morsels of fish that you just popped in your mouth. In my opinion, I didn’t need a sauce to dunk them in, but I did try it nonetheless. I liked the slight tang that the lime in the aioli offered.

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I must admit, had my appetite been greater, I would have ordered something more substantial. It was hard to turn down options such as the paella ($20), ahi tuna ($19), churrasco steak ($19), and Caribbean chicken ($16). Good thing I’m still here a month, because I will be back to sample more of their food. And the coconut flan ($6) for dessert…I’m coming back for you especially!

I sat watching the cars, scooters, and people pass by. There’s a lot of activity on the Malecón, as this is a prime spot for water activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, jet skiing, snorkeling and more. There are also several bars and restaurants, and it’s generally just a great spot to sit and people watch. I was sitting closer to the road, which meant you’d often smell the exhaust of a car motoring by. That was really the only downside I experienced.

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Davin was an attentive waiter without being bothersome. We chatted for a few minutes, the usual questions about where are you from, how long have you been here, etc. arose. He’s college educated, and I had to laugh to myself when he said that he didn’t plan to become a waiter as a career. Maybe not, Davin, but you sure picked the right place to do it, and I’m sure many people are envious of your lifestyle choice.

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I ordered a cold bottled Corona next, and continued to gaze out at the water. There were only a few other couples there at the time, and one family of 3 seated to my left. The bar stools were empty, but I’m sure they never stay that way for long.

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I really enjoyed my time at Bananas. The ambiance is casual with many wood accents and tropical plants. It’s your quintessential Caribbean bar/restaurant, and I love the indoor/outdoor open air vibe. I have the feeling it may be more of a tourist destination rather than a locals hangout (like La Nasa across the street), but that shouldn’t be a deterrent for anyone looking for good food at reasonable prices. Don’t forget the view. That’s priceless!

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