The moribund lunchtime scene near Calvary Cemetery is showing signs of life. At Tropical II on Greenpoint Avenue, hungry locals crowd in for satisfying Ecuadoran chow, made with care, 2slices reports.
Beef soup is a standout: deliciously fatty meat on the bone in fresh, light broth with carrots, onions, cabbage, yuca, and a good handful of cilantro. Seco de chivo is a stew loaded with uncommonly tender hunks of goat, served with yellow rice. Maduros (fried sweet plantains) are just about perfect—soft and brown with crispy bits at the ends. House-made aji sauce is fresh, herbal, and bracing. A stewed beef specialty is a tough, smallish piece of meat, redeemed by excellent peppery sauce. To drink, try fresh papaya juice served with slices of lime. The large illustrated menu also includes a long list of seafood dishes, including several ceviches and a tempting-looking tripe stew.
In Jackson Heights, there’s a promising sighting of Bolivian chow, not something you find on every corner around here. Club Kabu, the latest occupant of a hard-luck space where at least two other Bolivian restaurants have come and gone, offers decent versions of dishes from the country’s Andean highlands, Dolcevicci reports. Chicken and beef salteñas, the empanadalike pastries, are juicy and delicious and boast nicely made masa shells, though some might prefer more meat inside. There’s also a creditable sopa de mani (meat and peanut soup) and sturdy entrées like picante surtido (beef tongue and chicken in chile sauce) and chorrillana platters (meat in tomato-onion sauce with rice, fried potatoes, and fried egg).
A couple of misfires: Humintas (tamalelike steamed corn cakes) are tasty but made with cornmeal, not the customary fresh ground corn, and the expected cheesy filling is meager. Khallo cochabambino, an appetizer of hominy, green chiles, cheese, onion, and tomato, is disappointingly bland. Some find the restaurant an uncomfortable fit with the cavernous, upscale room, which doubles as a dance club—a problem the owners intend to solve by converting it to a full-time nightclub and moving the restaurant to another space up Northern Boulevard.
Another hound-endorsed Bolivian spot, Mi Bolivia in Sunnyside, has given way to the cryptically named International Restaurant, but recent reports say it’s still Bolivian and still worth a visit. Salteñas, especially the ones with chicken, are stellar—so good that Passadumkeg regularly lugs dozens of them back home to Maine after visiting family in Jersey. He also recommends chicharron, sopa de mani, and a Paceña beer or two. Go on Sunday afternoons, when Bolivian expats traditionally dine out.
Just a block or so away, wleatherette has sniffed out pure porky pleasure at the Colombian butcher shop Las Camelias: lechona, or whole roast pig, stuffed with chunks of pork and pork belly, peas, and bright yellow rice. It’s splendid, savory, and pleasingly salty. The butcher will carve you a hunk to order; be sure to get a nice piece of crackling on top. Another good bet here: fat, herb-flecked Colombian chorizo, superb when grilled.
Tropical II [Sunnyside]
36-10 Greenpoint Avenue (at Hunters Point), Sunnyside, Queens
Club Kabu [Jackson Heights]
85-09 Northern Boulevard (near 85th Street), Jackson Heights, Queens
International Restaurant [Sunnyside]
Formerly Mi Bolivia
44-10 48th Avenue (between 44th and 45th streets), Sunnyside, Queens
Las Camelias Carniceria [Sunnyside]
44-14 Greenpoint Avenue (between 44th and 45th streets), Sunnyside, Queens