Sunday, February 06, 2011

Mmm . . . Kelso . . . mmm

As the masthead of this blog demonstrates, I'm a bit biased when it comes to Franklin Avenue, and every now and then I like to just sit back and sing the praises of the neighborhood. On Saturday, the lady and I dragged ourselves out of bed for a run in the midst of a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. It was 34 degrees. It was raining. The rain was cold. The slush was cold. The world was cold. Cold and dark. Our running companion, a native of St. Petersburg (that's Russia, not Florida), mentioned that his mother uses a Russian saying to describe such days, one that loosely translates to "this is a good day for borrowing money to go drinking."

I decided to opt against boozing at noon, but I went for the next best thing: a huge meal at Kelso, Franklin Avenue's (and by extension, Brooklyn's, and maybe NYC's) one true Panamanian Restaurant. Kelso gets left out of the discussions about Franklin's rapid rise because it sits so far north (between St. Marks and Bergen) and because it was here before many of the hot new spots, but make no mistake, this is one of the best places to eat in all of Crown Heights. A "daily special" costs somewhere between $7-10, and includes a huge pile of meat (oxtail, curry chicken, pepper steak, etc), a heap of rice and peas, fried plantains, and a side salad, all served with the delicious hot-and-tangy yellow sauce that's served in a sugar bowl (Panamanian cuisine is a wonderful mixture of Latin American and Caribbean flavors, on account of the historic migration of West Indians to the canal zone). Sitting at the bar, chatting with the exceedingly friendly wait staff and listening to the radio, one could almost forget the "wintery mix" outside.

Franklin Avenue was once the center of Panamanian America, and still hosts the annual Panama Day Parade, as well as a number of local businesses that serve emigrants from the Isthmus. Thanks to this heritage, you can enjoy some of the best of what Panama has to offer at Kelso, even if you never plan to learn Spanish or sail through the world's most famous canal.


  1. are they vegetarian friendly? I am always wary of going into a place that doesn't have a menu out because often their menu is limited and there isn't anything I can really order. I hate that awkward walk-in and then slowly walk out once realizing there is nothing I can order...

  2. They definitely have non-meat items on the menu (rice and peas, plantains, tamales . . . and I think their Friday special is a vegetable -potato soup), but you'd have to be creative. I'm also not sure about their preparation (chicken stock, animal fat, etc). It's probably not the best place in the world for a vegetarian, but you wouldn't go hungry.

  3. Liz are I need your advaise ,look like you very smart and local