La Poteria Native mixes Colombian traditions and People tastes

In its native habitat — that’s, the properties and bakeries of Colombia — pandebono is a shape-shifter. Generally the cheese bread assumes the type of a pint-size Chinese language pork bun, and typically it seems to be extra like a Montreal bagel. At La Poteria Native, in a Montgomery Village purchasing heart on the fringes of Gaithersburg, the homeowners favor the bun design.

However Monica Pulecio and Andres Londoño have manipulated conventional pandebono dough into one other kind, too: The proprietors of La Poteria Native have formed it right into a waffle, like the type you’d discover at your neighborhood IHOP. You may even order one topped with blueberries, strawberries, dulce de leche and a giant fluffy dollop of whipped cream, as when you had been customizing a chew on the weekend waffle station at a Boca Raton resort.

Beneath the fruits and confections, you may not instantly detect the Colombian components of your pan de waffle con berries, however they’re there: You sense them within the texture of the waffle, whose crisp exterior offers method to an beautiful chewiness. Simply as necessary, you understand, progressively with every successive forkful, that your waffle with berries just isn’t a sugar bomb — that your dimpled base is extra savory bread than sweetened and griddled batter. You may even suspect that, deep throughout the recesses of your cassava-and-corn-flour waffle, somebody has hid a cache of salty cheese.

This jigsaw puzzle of influences is without doubt one of the many charms of La Poteria Native, a Colombian cafe that’s custom-built for suburban Marylanders, like me, who’ve by no means dined in Bogotá, or anyplace else within the nation, and probably won’t anytime soon. It’s Colombian avenue meals — one step eliminated, often augmented with different elements and concepts, and executed with care by a pair of Bogotá natives who, like so many immigrants earlier than them, got here to America to find their love of cooking.

Pulecio and Londoño met and married within the Washington space, although they grew up simply 5 minutes from one another in Colombia’s capital. Pulecio got here to the US as a result of, as she informed me, she “didn’t have the funds for to eat” again house. At first, she cleaned homes and labored as a nanny. Londoño moved north to work for the Pan American Well being Group. Their paths crossed at a celebration again in 2009, they usually’ve been just about inseparable ever since.

The couple launched a meals trailer in 2015 and dubbed it La Pote-Ria. The identify is an inside joke to those that know Pulecio and Londoño: Pote is Londoño’s nickname, which I assume makes him the face of the enterprise although its brand is a totes-adorbs silhouette of a meals trailer. The couple nonetheless operates two cell trailers each day at Clarksburg Premium Retailers, the place the menu is restricted however distinguished from its bricks-and-mortar counterpart in a single important approach: All of the empanadas are made with masa, not puff pastry, lending the stuffed pockets a unique heft, aroma and taste than these obtainable at La Poteria Native.

La Pote-Ria thrived, even throughout the pandemic, and the couple determined they need to make the leap to a storefront in September 2021, after they opened La Poteria Native. They began promoting simply empanadas (puff-pastry variations: braided, buttery, rustic and able to flake into 100 little items) and occasional, in a nod to the cafes of their hometown. “You stroll round and also you’re going to discover a place with espresso and empanadas,” Pulecio informed me. “It’s like our McDonald’s.”

La Poteria Native progressively began increasing its menu, including pandebono, palitos de queso, buñuelos, arepa toast, perros caliente, pan de waffles and tropical fruit smoothies, some gadgets extra conventional to the streets of Bogotá than others. The homeowners labored with their Connecticut-based vendor to create variations of those dishes that suited their tastes; each two weeks, somebody with the corporate — clearly the one who attracts the shortest cheese stick — should trek north to collect extra stock for the carts and storefront. Few issues, aside from the espresso drinks brewed from excellent Pergamino beans shipped fresh from Colombia, are ready from scratch within the kitchen.

As a lot as I just like the pan de waffle — particularly the waffle slices that function bread for the ham-and-cheese sanguchito, a sandwich with a mochi-like chew — I really like the usual pandebono buns much more. Squat, pale and translucent on the edges, the place you possibly can see the guava-jelly filling nearly aching to burst from its confinement, the pandebono buns play each side in opposition to one another, by no means totally committing to both the candy or savory components. It’s a rigidity, and a delight.

The perro caliente, or Colombia-style scorching canine, dials up this rigidity much more. As you’d count on, there are a number of methods to decorate a Colombian canine, however La Poteria Native’s model performs up the pineapple sauce, a condiment that dietary supplements the fruit’s pure sweetness with added sugar. Interlocking traces of pineapple sauce, garlic mayo and mayo-ketchup slither throughout the floor of the all-beef canine, including their very own commentary to the dish, however the important battle is between the savory hyperlink and the candy pineapple sauce, the entrance traces shifting with every chew. The battle can be inside, no less than for me: You both embrace this candied canine, otherwise you don’t. I embraced it within the second — , love the one you’re with — however I’m unsure I’d undertake it full time.

La Poteria Native’s arepa toast is a type of mash-ups that I ought to have seen coming from 1,000 miles away, a merger of Colombian custom with avocado toast, an age-old dish that gained superstar standing when Gwyneth Paltrow and everybody else grasped its inherent magnificence on the socials. When confronted with arepa toast on the desk, I wasn’t certain precisely tips on how to assault it. It’s an arepa that identifies as pizza: The skinny, griddled corn-flour base is slathered with mashed avocados, sprinkled with grated cheese and shredded hard-boiled eggs, then completed with chipotle mayo and pico de gallo. The primary time I ordered the dish, I attempted to eat it with plastic cutlery. It was an train in delayed gratification, as I tried to noticed by way of the arepa with insufficient instruments.

The second time I ordered arepa toast, an worker prompt I eat it with my fingers. I don’t need to oversell this shift, however I noticed the dish in a brand new gentle. Not solely was the arepa toast simple to devour, however consuming together with your fingers provides one other sensual pleasure to the meal: As you carry the loaded arepa to your mouth, your fingers are available in contact with the tough, pebbly floor of the flatbread. The tactile expertise generates one thing near ASMR tingles. As I alternated between arepa toast and soursop smoothie, the previous and current commingling in methods I may barely catalogue, I felt a contentment rush over me, a momentary easing of fear and stress.

It’s a second that all of us seek for in eating places, and I had discovered it — at Pote’s place.

19116 Montgomery Village Ave., Montgomery Village, Md.; 240-477-6636;

Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.

Costs: $2.50 to $10.50 for all gadgets on the menu, besides household packs and baggage of espresso.

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