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Authentic Colombian food?

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Scanning past threads, it seems like Jax Heights, Corona, Elmhurst and Woodside in Queens are the places to go for authentic Colombian. Is there any consensus on, say, the top 3 Colombian places in those 'hoods?

What about The Bronx -- is there good Colombian food to be found there? Or even Astoria? I've had my eye on two Astoria places -- both on Steinway near B'way:

La Fonda Antioquena
Mekato

Any word on those places? Are they up up to par with the best options citywide, or just convenient neighborhood joints? Thanks!!

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La Fonda Antioquena
32-25 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103

Mekato
30-93 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103

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  1. I think Jackson Heights is usually your best bet. I've ordered in from La Fonda and I think the food is better at both the nearby Basurero and Pollo De Mario (which has a another outlet in Jackson Heights around 82nd St.)

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    El Basurero
    32-17 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103

    5 Replies
    1. re: Mr Porkchop

      Is the food in Mekato also Antioqueno (Medellin) or Cali style? I would love to find a place noin those styles

      1. re: Mangita

        Mangita, a quick google search turned up thisCali style place in Jax Heights: Aqui Colombia

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        Aqui Colombia
        81-08 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11372

        1. re: CitySpoonful

          Thanks so much

      2. re: Mr Porkchop

        Mr Porkchop, thanks for the Basurero rec. The decorations are so over-the-top that I assumed it was a place to go for drinking more than eating. :) But I'll check it out.

        1. re: CitySpoonful

          Definitely over the top, and definitely for drinking too, but the food isn't half bad, and it does a good noisy business. If you can't deal with noise and the occasional in-door firework I wouldn't go.

      3. Having been to Baranquillia, Pereira and Cartegena (please forgive my spelling), I can honestly say there's nothing in NYC which compares to Colombian cooking. Not unless your mother-in-law is at the helm. In Pereira alone, it seemed the chorizo was noticeably (in a good way) different, neighborhood to neighborhood. I find most of the Colombian restaurants here either blandish or caustic.

        15 Replies
        1. re: David11238

          David11238, I know what you mean (I have an Indian mother-in-law and I'm very spoiled when it comes to Indian food -- almost never eat out in the City's Indian restaurants...nothing compares!). If you had to recommend the best of a mediocre lot, are there 1 or 2 Colombian places that stand out above the rest? Just curious...

          (btw, for Indian, I would recommend Ganesh Temple and Neerob -- even though the latter is Bangladeshi, it's still way better food than most Indian places!!)

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          Ganesh Temple Canteen
          45-57 Bowne St, Queens, NY 11355

          Neerob
          2109 Starling Ave, Bronx, NY 10462

          1. re: CitySpoonful

            Been curious about Neerob--is it worth traveling from brooklyn for, esp if, like you, I am v picky about the indian food i eat out (cause I usually make it better myself)? I will travel for things that I can't/don't like to make at home--ie. south indian snacks (like the temple canteen but their coconut chutney is often terrible, and the chutney is important to me), naan, and biriyani. We do like southern spice in flushing--my son is addicted to their chicken 65, but am still looking for a super stellar north indian, pakistani, or bangladeshi style place, since i don't really cook in those styles.

            1. re: missmasala

              Haven't been yet, but it sounds as if Neerob falls into the "super stellar" Bangla/Bengali category if you order the right stuff. Here's the Chow summary of a great thread with JFores' report ... http://www.chow.com/digest/76126/bang...

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              Neerob
              2109 Starling Ave, Bronx, NY 10462

              1. re: squid kun

                yeah, read that thread--that's what got me interested in the first place. guess i'll have to make a trip to the bronx and see for myself.

              2. re: missmasala

                missmasala, it's totally worth it!!! I'm a vegetarian, so I can only speak for that food, which I gather is not Neerob's specialty, but even the veg. dishes were awesome. They don't hold back on the mustard oil, garlic, mirchi and fresh dhania leaves, and the resulting flavor is great. Also, I appreciated the sparing use of oil -- so rare in restaurant food!

                Ask them what their daily specials are and go with that. But don't miss trying 1-2 of their daily bharthas (mashed potato, chana daal, eggplant, fish etc. with the aforementioned chat-pata seasonings)!

                Also, their roti was great -- thin, light, very close to homemade quality. And their samosas were amazing -- exceptionally flavorful filling (best I've ever had in a restaurant in NYC)!

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                Neerob
                2109 Starling Ave, Bronx, NY 10462

                1. re: CitySpoonful

                  I'm curious. What does a vegetarian eat at a Colombian place? It's quite possibly the most meat-oriented food around, besides the bakery items/arepas and such. I think most of the recommendations above and below are based on meaty meals. If I were entertaining a vegetarian, Colombian would be the last place I'd go.

                  1. re: E Eto

                    Yep, it's very meat-heavy, though I'd say Argentine food is more meat-obsessed. Of course, they've got Italian influence that allows for some vegetarian dishes.
                    I'm trying to think of vegetarian Colombian items and coming up pretty blank except for a fee appetizers. Even the beans often have meat.

                2. re: missmasala

                  missmasala, PS: i have yet to find decent N. Indian food in NYC, but my husband is Punjabi and N. Indian food is pretty much all we cook at home (though I've been exploring Maharashtrian recipes lately...). I'd be happy to send some good, easy N. Indian recipes your way...just shoot me an email: anne@cityspoonful.com.

                  1. re: CitySpoonful

                    not sure if it's northern or southern indian but IMO Delhi Heights is a superb restaurant. It's located in Jackson heights. The kathi rolls, garlic nan, onion kulcha, sag paneer,and chicken makhani are all amazing.

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                    Delhi Heights
                    37-66 74th St, Queens, NY 11372

                    1. re: daffyduck

                      Maharaja in Jax Heights has always been our go-to place for N. Indian, but admittedly their food is usually quite greasy and not that great.

                      I noticed Delhi Heights has interesting, hard-to-find menu items, like maki ki roti (griddled flat breads made from corn flour) -- which is very Punjabi. Then again, they also had hakka noodles (Desi-Chinese noodles) and a few S. Indian dishes on the menu, too -- when I last looked. That huge breadth always makes me suspicious, but I haven't had a chance to check it out yet for myself.

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                      Delhi Heights
                      37-66 74th St, Queens, NY 11372

                      Maharaja Sweets and Snacks
                      7310 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                      1. re: CitySpoonful

                        the menu has some weaker items. im not a fan of their biryani or tandoori items. but some of the highs i hit were very high. Their manchuarian items are also very good

                    2. re: CitySpoonful

                      Funny, I'm half maharashtrian so that's often what i cook. tho i ran out of goda masala recently and have made any.
                      would love some punjabi recipes--i'll email you.

                      1. re: missmasala

                        Ha! I actually have a lot of goda masala on hand these days. I had tried making some myself, and then I bought some when we were in Pune last summer. :) Would love to get some of your recipes, too -- we've been loving the Maharashtrian dishes I've been trying out....

                  2. re: CitySpoonful

                    I'm going to sound a bit pompous-my answer is no. I just came back from Bogota and as much as I'd love to recommend a place, I can't. Do you have any friends from Colombia who know how to cook? I had a homemade meal at my family's house in Bogota (pork sancocho) and it was frigging delicious. Other than that, I suggest you buy an airline ticket to Colombia ans gorge yourself silly.

                    1. re: David11238

                      Thanks, David 11238. I suspected as much. I have Colombian friends, but unfortunately they are not culinarily inclined.

                3. http://www.nativesrestaurant.com/rest... my personal favorite

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                  Natives
                  82-22 Northern Blvd, Queens, NY 11372

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: daffyduck

                    Thanks, daffyduck. I'll add Natives to my list, as well.

                  2. Don't really know.... I friend of mine who grew up in Columbia loves Bogata on 5th Ave and there is a new Columbian restaurant on 5th Ave where Pollio's used to be.... Never tried either of them..

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                    Bogota
                    141 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11217

                    Colombia in Park Slope
                    376 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: MAW

                      Thanks, MAW. Bogata seems like a good candidate.

                      1. re: CitySpoonful

                        Bogota is good (though I lived many years in Bogota and the food is much more Cali or Medellin style - no Bogota in it!)) but the Bandeja Paisa (Medellin style) is extremely tasty! I will check out the new Colombia in Park Slope.

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                        Colombia in Park Slope
                        376 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215

                        1. re: Mangita

                          Mangita, I'm curious -- how would you define the differences between Cali, Medellin and Bogota-style cooking? Different ingredients, seasonings, staple foods? Thanks!!

                          1. re: CitySpoonful

                            Cali and Medellin is pretty similar- and is pretty much what we can get in the area but in Bogota there are a lot more soups (it can get cold there) - great chicken soup and of course ajiaco (a potato, chicken and corn soup with cream and capers and avovado and a green leaf spice guascas which is the specialty of Bogota) The spices (except guascas) are no different across the country because of course Colombian food is not heavily spiced. In Bogota I remember we used to eat these little white corn (fried) empanadas (some with chicken and others meat)with coffee (these were yummy), pollo con arroz con cocacola y pasas (yes chicken stew served over a rice made with coke and raisins), tamales (chicken, and pork with chick peas) also usually served with hot chocolate, roscones (a guava pastry), hot chocolate into which we put a white farmers cheese so it melted and since some of my family was from Buccaramanga we ate a large yellow corn meal arepas as opposed to a white corn arepa. What else? Changua for breakfast (eggs, scallion and milk soup). I guess Bogota cusine traditionally focuses on soups and stews and a lot of potatoes. And on the coast a lot of seafood and in Tolima grilling is a specialty.

                            1. re: Mangita

                              Mangita, thanks so much for this information! I will keep this in mind as I try out some of the places recommended here.

                              Since I assume I'll be eating Cali/Medellin style food, are there any typical dishes from the region that I should be sure to try?

                              1. re: CitySpoonful

                                Well, I like the bandeja paisa ("paisa" is kind of a nickname for people from Medellin)- it is usually grilled steak, rice beans (always beans from those areas) plantains, a fried egg, sometimes avocado and picado (the little vinegreymix of chopped onions, cilantro and a bit of a spicy pepper) and if any place you go serves any version of a Colombian tamal get it- I love these in any version and they are so different from the Mexican version. I look forward to your report!

                              2. re: Mangita

                                Does anyone know of a place that serves pollo con arroz con cocacola y pasa?

                                1. re: daffyduck

                                  I have never seen it here (except in my home!). It was considered a "festive" party dish.

                                  1. re: Mangita

                                    that's too bad i've heard great things about it. hopefully another CHer has had it and knows where to go.

                      2. im also a very big fan of http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-gata-golos... and http://www.yelp.com/biz/la-casa-del-p... dont miss they have this cheese\fruit danish that is sublime the fruits come in two flavors (guava and pineapple i think) these are both bakerys not restaurants but i've gotten good food at both places, especially the former (though i remember their pork loins being dry).

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                        La Casa del Pan
                        3802 Broadway, Queens, NY 11103

                        La Casa del Pan
                        33-18 30th Ave, Queens, NY 11103

                        15 Replies
                        1. re: daffyduck

                          daffyduck, I had no idea Casa del Pan serves real food. I must investigate! Do you know if their pastries are mainly Colombian? Their sign advertises Argentinian baked goods, too...

                          1. re: CitySpoonful

                            i dont know if they do. so I was unclear, I meant La Gata Golosa has real food (rice, beans, meats). Casa del Pan has empanadas and areapas but everything else is mostly bread or pastries. I think they're a Colombian bakery, I love their pandebano which is a Colombian cheese bread I believe.

                            -----
                            La Gata Golosa
                            89-01 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                            1. re: daffyduck

                              Do they have the real Colombian emanadas? The ones made with corn masa and not flour? The flour ones are really Argentine in origin. I liked in Colombia (so many years ago!) when these were introduced in Bogota. Now they are fairly ubiquitous there but they are not true Colombian emanadas and while they can be good my heart (and tastes) remain wedded to the origional (small) corn based emanadas.

                              1. re: Mangita

                                The CDP by me has two types of flour empanadas (beef and chicken I believe) and one kind of corn (beef and potato maybe? I prefer the flour). They keep them in the window heater with the arepas, chorizo, and potatoes.

                                Casa del Pan is as Colombian as their Postobon collection. They do actually have a limited "real food" selection for lunch, I think primarily of the roasted chicken variety.

                              2. re: daffyduck

                                IMO the food at La Gata Golosa is pretty good but their hot sauce is amazing. Their hot sauce is served in a cup and I literally ask them for 3 extra cups and all my food in it and eat it. If you're ever in the mood for anything sweet they have a pandebano that has guava and some sort of sweet cream cheese inside it's very good. They also serve cholados with ice cream which is amazinggg. La Gata Golosa is actually starting to become my favorite 24 hour spot.

                                -----
                                La Gata Golosa
                                89-01 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                                1. re: daffyduck

                                  It is actually "pandebono" literally "good bread" - sorry to be obnoxious- I will try La Gata Golosa but I must say that as good as the hot sauce might be that would be nod to other south of the boarder tastes or even evolving American tastes that expect hot sauce whenever Latin cuisine is involved. Colombians are simply not hot sauce eaters and the closest they come to it is "pico de gallo" which is more vinegary with than really hot. In fact, the biggest complaint many have about Colombian fare is that it is very plainly seasoned. So, the average Colombian plate on a daily basis is actually fairly dull- it is the the regional specialties like sancocho, ajiaco, their tamales, etc. that are the items worth ferreting out. But, I am going to head off to Queens one day and try all the places everyone has suggested. And with regard to some of the comments about vegetarians- most Colombians idea of a vegetable is lettuce and and occasional pea or carrot!

                                  -----
                                  La Gata Golosa
                                  89-01 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11372

                                  1. re: Mangita

                                    the hot sauce i'm referring to is probably pico de gallo, it is vinegary, yet reminds me of a spicy salsa. it's very mild in terms of spiciness but I find it delicious. I'm far form an expert in Colombian food though. So I can't compare it that much with other hot sauces or pico de gallos.

                                    1. re: daffyduck

                                      yes, that sounds like pico de gallp- after Memorial Weekend I am going to try to get to Queens to try your recommendation. Thanks for the tip

                                      1. re: Mangita

                                        I hope you like it. I am a big fan of their pico de gallo. I personally think the food is better at Native Restaurant on Northern Blvd (their empannadas come with a green sauce that is deliciouss).
                                        But IMO for dessert, La Gata Galosa is amazing. you shouldn't miss the crisp, soft cheese bread that has guava and some sort of sweet cream cheese inside (wish i knew the name!). that and the cholados with ice cream are my favorite items. If I eat there again soon I'll try to take a picture of the food.

                                        1. re: daffyduck

                                          daffyduck, thanks for these two recs! i am a huge fan of condiments so I'm happy to travel for a good "gren sauce" or pico de gallo!

                                          1. re: daffyduck

                                            The guava pastry is probably bocadillo don queso- yes, do post pics

                                            1. re: Mangita

                                              guava cheese pastry at La Gata

                                               
                                               
                                              1. re: daffyduck

                                                here is a beef empanada from Casa del Pan they have my favorite empanadas. the exterior\crust is thin and very crisp.

                                                 
                                              2. re: Mangita

                                                pandebano at La Gata

                                                 
                                                 
                                                1. re: daffyduck

                                                  BTW would like to report that I tried a variation of pan de bano at La Abundacia by broadway and 63rd street and was not impressed it was dry. I would stick to La Gata or Casa del Pan. However La Abundacia has a yellow\orange rice dish that I love. I don't know what it's called but when they just make it the rice comes inside of a big juicy whole pig. They then take out the rice from the insides of the pig on to the tray. The rice comes with bits of chicken and veggies in it. I like ordering it with a side of beans.

                                                  -----
                                                  La Abundancia
                                                  63-10 Broadway, Queens, NY 11377

                              3. My Colombian friends and I usually end up at
                                Listo el Poljo in Elmhurst. My review of it is here
                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/756751

                                -----
                                Listo el Pollo
                                86-02 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11372