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El Puerto Armenia

El Puerto Armenia
Carrera 14 (Avenida Bolivar) #18A-8, Armenia, Quindio

El Puerto Armenia is a classy little spot located on northern Armenia's main drag Avenida Bolivar. Swing by and try one of their set price almuerzos, typically for just around $10.000. The ambience is nice, the service is attentive, and there's even a respectable aquarium that you can observe while you kill a little time waiting for your food.

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On the day that I arrived, the menu offered a choice between pargo (snapper), or sierra (a fish without an English equivalent). I have never met a snapper I didn't like, so I decided to go with the pargo frito, or fried snapper.

The meal began with a sancocho de pescado, or a soup of fish and bananas in a hearty broth. It was tasty, but as often the case with Colombian food, it offered little subtlety of flavor and was heavily salty.

The pargo frito was served with coconut rice, patacones (cakes of fried bananas), a side salad, and lemonade. When I saw the pargo frito for the first time my heart sank. I recalled a previous experience in Maracaibo, Venezuela, where I had also ordered a fish, and received an entire whole, not filleted, fish on my plate. It was a nightmare to eat because of the bones.

My mood soon soared, however, when I discovered that snapper is easily eaten without worrying about the bones. Just remove the fillets on either side of the spine, and you can eat to your heart's content. We Americans, I feel, are so accustomed to everything being nicely packaged for us. Sometimes it's nice to expand our comfort zones.

The fish was truly delicious, especially with lime juice squeezed on it. Although I don't normally like putting salt on my food, a little salt on white fish really helps to bring out the flavor. All in all I'd recommend El Puerto Armenia as a great place to get good seafood at a reasonable price. It might be the best fish I've had in Colombia!

Food: 8
Value: 8
Service: 7
Ambience: 8

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