Seattle, WA – Marimba! – South American Restaurant

Restaurant: Marimba!
Cuisine: South American/Caribbean/Latin
Last visited: November 21, 09
Location: Everett, Washington (Waterfront)
Address: 1405 Hewitt Ave
Price Range: $10-20 USD (closer to $20)

1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!

Food: 3.5
Service: 4
Ambiance: 4 (the huge dance floor + music, you want to dance!)
Overall: 3.5
Additional comments:

  • Owners/chefs/cooks from South America (Ecuador)
  • Specializes in a variety of authentic South American dishes
  • Homemade/authentic menu choices
  • Popular to locals
  • Spacious
  • Extensive menu
  • Great for appetizers and drinks
  • Great for large groups
  • Weekly Salsa dancing (Fri/weekends)
  • M-F lunch and dinner
  • Saturday and Sunday dinner service – 4pm
  • Happy hour 4-6pm ($3 selected appies)
  • Catering/private party hosting available

**Recommendation: Papas Huancainas, Lechon, Mofongo

I was in Everette for a concert and wanted to find a restaurant nearby. I did my research and I wanted to find something that’s harder to find in Vancouver… at least hard to find done well. I decided to go the South American route and discovered this restaurant – Marimba!

I heard good things about and the menu looks really different and authentic. I’m not too familiar with South American dishes, but I have a good idea about Spanish dishes. Most of what we ordered was Westernized versions of authentic South American dishes…but it everything tasted pretty decent still. I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn’t blown away either. The dishes were interesting and the owners/chefs/cooks are from South America so the menu selection is authentic, but the recipes… I’m not so sure. If it’s still good, I won’t let the idea of “authenticity” bother me too much, but the food was overall a 3.5/6.

On the table:

  • Papas Huancainas 4/6
    • Cooled layered potatoes dressed in a yellow aji pepper sauce and topped with queso fresco and mint $4.99
    • This was really good! I thought it tasted like a Latin version of American potato salad.
    • The yellow aji pepper sauce is homemade and really flavourful. It’s spicy and made with probably a blend of those roasted yellow peppers (the kind from a jar in olive oil), egg yolks and mayo. There’s probably some jalapeño in it too. It’s very pureed so you can’t really pick out the ingredients. It’s served chilled on top of boiled sliced potatoes.They had some black olives on top and they could have included a few more of those.
  • Causa de Yuca 2.5/6
    • Our house version of this popular Peruvian dish–mashed yuca served in a yellow aji sauce with avocado and baby shrimp $5.49
    • So I thought the Papas Huancainas was the Latin version of American potato salad…I take it back…THIS is the Latin version of American potato salad. This one really reminded me of potato salad…or even an egg salad.
    • This one had lime juice in it because it was tangier.
    • It was potato on the bottom layer tossed in a mayo dressing and then on top of it was what tasted like mashed up potato salad, but in this case it was yucca (which tastes like potato),
    • They mash the yucca with that yellow pepper sauce again. It’s very creamy.
  • Tortilla de Papa 1/6
    • A thick slice of omelet prepared in the classic Spanish-style with potato, pepper, tomato, and onion $5.49
    • This wasn’t good. For what it’s supposed to be it was a 1, but because I could still eat it it was a 1.5.
    • I’ve had numerous tortilla de papa or tortilla de patatas because I lived in Europe with Spanish girls who always made it. I’ve had homemade and restaurant style versions. I was lucky enough to even try their mom’s tortilla in Spain so I know what it’s supposed to be like. Mind you I was in Spain and not South America – so their versions are probably different…but I have a pretty good idea.
    • It’s supposed to be really tender and almost runny in the middle. This one was overcooked and tough. It’s almost fishy tasting or had the texture of overcooked salmon. You can tell it was overcooked by the picture. It was a very rushed version of tortilla de Papa.
  • Tequenos 1.5/6
    • Wedges of soft cheese rolled in pastry dough, lightly fried, and served with a special cream sauce $4.99
    • This was basically mozzarella sticks. I don’t know if they’re made in house, but it tasted like how frozen ones would taste. Our server basically hinted to us that we didn’t need to try them, we should have listened.
    • They were fried well and the cheese was ooey gooey, but they were just mozzarella sticks. The dip it came with tasted like tzatziki sauce but with more herbs like parsley blended right into it. Maybe even some cilantro. The dip was good, but the sticks were whatever.
  • Lechon 4/6
    • Pork slow roasted in a mix of herbs and seasonings until tender and topped off with sauteed onion. Served with red beans ,rice with pigeon peas, and tostones $12.99
    • The pork was quite tender, but it was probably pre-cooked meat tossed with sauce and reheated. The pork was still good though and it cut with ease.
    • It had some fat around it so it was nice and moist. But the fat or skin wasn’t crispy at all.
    • The Rice: the rice was actually really good! It was cooked well, flavourful, and not clumpy.
  • Mofongo 4/6
    • This Puerto Rican dish features your choice of pork, chicken, beef, or prawns, served over mofongo: smashed green plantains fried with chicharron and garlic. Served with rice with pigeon peas and black beans $14.99. Vegetarian $12.99
    • This is the dish I came for. I took our servers recommendation and had it with pork and asked for it to be medium for spiciness. My pork was quite tender, almost like pulled pork, but overall the dish was a bit dry.
    • The yucca and green plantain mash was dry and I just wanted more sauce. The mash was like the South American version of turkey stuffing. It went well with the pork because it was the complementary starch.
    • This is a really hearty and filling dish. It’s good, but I think everything is more or less pre-cooked and they throw it altogether and bake it off before serving.
  • Pabellon 2.5/6
    • The national dish of Venezuela! Seasoned and shredded beef served with black beans, rice, and tostones $12.99
    • This was very bland and my friend ordered it mild – no spice. It really needed spice though. It was basically shredded beef in a tomato based sauce with onions and dried and fresh herbs.
    • It was almost like a South American shredded beef stew. The beef was either a brisket or chuck.
    • The pork was more tender and better than the beef dishes.
  • Bandeja Paisa 2/6
    • A traditional Colombian dish featuring chicharron and a fried egg with your choice of seasoned ground beef or skirt steak. Served with red beans, rice, and tostones $13.49
    • This is a popular South American fusion dish. It’s actually a combination of American/UK and South American flavours.
    • I was a bit disappointed by this dish because it was so simple. It should have had way more sides than it had. It was definitely a Westernized version. We ordered it with skirt steak.
    • Traditionally the dish includes 13 things: red beans with pork, white rice, a fried egg, avocado, Arepa (pita), ground meat or steak, chorizo, pork rind, plantain patacones (plantain patties), Hogao sauce (tomato & onion sauce) and black pudding (sausages of patties made of pork blood).
    • The ones in bold is what came with Marimba’s version of Bandeja Paisa.
    • Plantain Patacones: This was pretty good, fried nice and fresh. Served with a dollop of the same sauce they had with the Tequenos. Tastes like tzatziki sauce with blended herbs.
    • Red beans: pretty good, definitely better than my black beans. It supposed to be served on the plate not in a separate dish. All the ingredients are supposed to blend into each other.
    • Fried egg: was overcooked, the yolk wasn’t runny
    • Arepa: it’s a pita made out of cornmeal, but I could really tell. It tasted like a Greek style pita. Nice and soft.
    • Overall the dish wasn’t saucy enough and it was dry. The steak looks well done, but it was actually quite tender and good.
    • It reminded my of the American steak & eggs with some Latin sides and a couple British sides. Or even the Hawaiian Loco Moco (ground meat & a fried egg over rice)
    • Even if they didn’t include everything they should have included Hogao sauce…it needed sauce. It could have used more avocado slices too.
  • Rice Pudding 1/6
    • Rice cooked with raisin, evaporated milk, condensed milk, and topped with cinnamon. When available, served with either mazamorra (purple corn compote) or lucuma mousse (Peruvian fruit similar to an avocado) $4.29
    • This wasn’t good. It came in a little bowl and I felt ripped off. The rice was really clumpy and there’s were chunks of rice in it. It was sweet, but not really too sweet or anything either. Rally one dimensional, I like Indian rice puddings better. The didn’t serve it with mazmorra or lucuma mousse either…and that was most disappointing because that was the whole point of trying the dish!


Marimba! on Urbanspoon


  • KimHo says:

    Wow, that looks… Disappointing, specially considering the population of Latin Americans in the US is greater than in Vancouver (but, then again, with so many countries in Latin America). Let me know when you have some time so I can take you to a place in Vancouver that offer dishes better than the ones you had. And that is NOT Baru Latino…

  • nicole says:

    Damn woman, I think the amount of places you go out to eat at and review are equivalent to my shoe collection LOL (which probably isn't a good thing for me, but whatever).

    Thanks for all your comments Mijune! Sorry I'm so behind in replying back to them. I think it's awesome that you seek out different restaurants with really unique types of foods that aren't commonly offered in most places. I haven't tried S. American food myself so this was an interesting review! I feel like such a food newb/virgin now! LOL

    Wow you tried a lot of things at this place! I feel more educated in S. American foods haha, the Mofongo sounds good because I like pulled pork. I'm not a fan of rice pudding and the one you tried doesn't look or sound good, is that a traditional S. American dessert?

  • Follow Me Foodie says:

    Kim! You are the perfect person to go have S.American food with! Let's go!

  • Follow Me Foodie says:

    Hi Nicole! Welcome back! Yay I'm so glad you liked my review and at the same time find yourself learning about new cuisines!

    Every time I go to the states I try to go for Mexican/South American/Carribean/Soul food – because they have a bigger population for that kind of stuff so I assume it will also taste better.

    Soooo how many shoes did you buy from LA?!?! AND did you find the taco truck!?!

  • nicole says:

    I always like your reviews woman, what are you talking about? Also, what is this #12 ranked on Urban Spoons nonsense? Don't they know you're #1? 😉

    That makes sense that they would, but then again because the population is bigger, that probably means tons of weeding through and filtering out the inauthentic places! but you're doing a great job so keep up the good work!

    I only bought 2 pairs, 1 for me and 1 for my best friend haha I behaved myself because my shoe collection is getting to the point of scary/worrisome.

    And NO! I DID NOT FIND THAT DELICIOUS TACO TRUCK I AM SO SAD RIGHT NOW. So that just means I have to make another trip down to LA JUST FOR THAT TACO TRUCK OMG. I'm sure it'll be worth it though 🙂

  • Follow Me Foodie says:

    Lol thanks doll!! You're so sweet!!!

    and WOW!!! I'm so surprised you were able to control!! I bought a pair when I was down there in the summer and ended up leaving them at my cousins!! I had to wait a month to be reunited with them!

    I REALLY REALLY want to go back becuase I misste the taco truck too. I was eating like 6 meals a day and in between I was shopping to "burn it off"

  • Mau says:

    I just want to add that a real arepa shouldn’t be close to a pita. Pita is more like a bread and arepas are more like “corn” patties, if that makes any sense. Basically, the texture for the arepas are pitas are totally different (or at leas they should be). Arepas can be thin or fairly thick, and can find them with and without fillings (usually the thicker arepas are the ones that have fillings on them). Also, you can have yellow or white arepas depending on the type of corn that you use. Also, the typical bandeja paisa comes with small white arepas that are fairly dry.

  • Mijune says:

    Mau – thanks for your facts, they’re very helpful! I think it’s the way they made them here…it was rather “pita-like” than patty like…it tasted like a Greek style pita…which i guess it wasn’t supposed to. I will have to find a place that makes them the authentic way then! thanks!

  • Mau says:

    if you do find a place that makes original arepas (from any latin-american country) post it here, cuz I haven’t…still have to rely on my mom or her friends to get original arepas (in Vancouver)… 🙂

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