Tired of the same food? Or are you a Colombian missing home? We’ve got a list with the best places to find original Latin food, from the classic empanadas and arepas, to the most complex dishes only to be found here like ajiaco, bandeja paisa, sancocho, changua and calentado. It will fulfill all your expectations.
1. Colombia in Park Slope
The best Colombian restaurant in Brooklyn serves authentic homemade dishes at an affordable price. Here you will have not only quality and quantity, but also a hospitable service. Be sure to visit on Tuesday or Wednesday for a special 2 for $30 menu, including one appetizer, two entrees and one dessert, or enjoy live music every Friday and Saturday night. The owner recommends guacamole, carne asada and tres leches, but you must order empanadas, the bandeja paisa, which tastes like the real deal, and finish off with a sangria. We know you’ll want to come back after you have tried these appetizing dishes.
2. Arepa Lady
Maria Piedad Cano, known as the “Sainted Arepa Lady”, started this business in a food cart in Queens. Formerly a lawyer and judge in Medellín, Colombia, she brought the best Arepas recipe to NYC with her. The classic corn flour cake is served three ways: arepa de queso, arepa de chocolo and arepa tela, which come with cheese, chorizo (sausage), grilled meat, grilled chicken or shredded beef. Now in hands of her son, Alejandro Osorio, and his wife, Nelly Klinger, the restaurant once located at 7702 Roosevelt Avenue moved to 78-31 37th Ave doubling its capacity. Try lulo juice, a savory Colombian fruit, or any juice, they are all delicious.
3. Pollos a la Brasa Mario
This famous chain of restaurants has a wide variety of beef, chicken and seafood dishes. It is located on 81th Street and Roosevelt Ave Queens, with branches in Woodhaven, Brentwood and Hempstead, although you can find the same friendly Colombian environment in each one of them and the most delicious traditional food. We recommend the Calentado for breakfast (mixed rice and beans with scrambled eggs or beef), Ajiaco santafereño (a special soup with potatoes and chicken), or Mario’s special platter with grilled steak, pork loin, crackling, ¼ chicken, beans, rice, corn cake and salad. Save some space for a typical dessert, the Tres Leches and enjoy a fresh juice or Colombian sodas.
4. Bogota Latin Bistro
Located in Park Slope, this Latin restaurant is dedicated to raise the awareness of Colombian cuisine and culture offering a unique experience with the best food and service. Customer favorites include Bandeja paisa, arroz con pollo, fritanga, arepas with hogao sauce and beef empanadas. Don’t forget to try the pan de bono or buñuelo, those are traditional Colombian breads. Also, if brunch is your thing, try the Colombian breakfast or the Changua, you won’t regret. Besides, here you can find a mix of Central and South American dishes that enrich the menu and celebrate Latin traditions with other flavors from Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Cuba.
5. El Palacio de los Cholados
We couldn’t leave Cholados out of this list, that’s why you should go to El Palacio de los Cholados to try a Colombian classic concoction made of ice cream, shaved ice, fruits (bananas, strawberry, coconut and pineapple) and juice, all soaked with condensed milk. Located in Jackson Heights, it is a renowned place to have this 16-ounce cup dessert.
6. Empanada Mama
Socrates Nanas founded this restaurant and offers a huge variety of the cornmeal/wheat treat, more than forty empanadas making it impossible not to find one for every taste. Open 24/7 at Hell’s Kitchen and with another location in Allen Street, the most famous empanadas eatery in New York serves the finest Colombian food at a great price. We recommend the crunchy corn flour empanada, especially the one with chilli and beef. There are also other dishes like arepas, tamales, veal and rice balls, dessert empanadas with fig, caramel and cheese. Don’t miss the salpicon, a mixed fresh fruit cocktail.