Colombia is a country with incredible diversity. The nation has over 90 ethnic groups and over 65 languages. And when you eat their food, you can feel the influence of this diversity.
Most Colombian recipes may not be as hot as Mexican or Cuban, but they carry the richness of the lush mountains, rainforests, and oceans around them. And even though the country is so rich in diversity, with each region having its specialty, today we look at the best traditional Colombian food you can find in NYC.
Traditional Colombian food in New York
From meat-filled platters to delightful soups and snacks, you can expect every dish on this list of the best Colombian food in NYC to be a lovely surprise to your taste buds.
Traditional Colombian food ranges from heavy meat-filled dishes to light soups. Ajiaco is one of the light meals many Colombians enjoy slowly siping. The meal is native to the Colombian capital, Bogota, and the Santa Fe region, but it has become a nation’s favorite that is now found everywhere.
A traditional Colombian Ajiaco comprises chicken breast, potatoes, fresh corn, onions, cilantro, and chicken stock. This heart meal comes with rice, topped with avocado slices and sour cream.
When you order an Ajiaco, you should be ready to use your fingers. The chicken is still on the bone, and the fresh corn is still on the cob.
In NYC, you can find yummy Ajiaco at Bogota Latin Bistro, Palenque Colombian Food or La Choza del Gordo.
When it comes to the heart of traditional Colombian food, it does not get any better than Bandeja Paisa. The dish originates from the Paisa region of Colombia, which means you get their native crops in the dish. It is so prevalent in Colombia that it is considered the national dish.
The main ingredients in Bandeja Paisa are Paisa pinto beans, fried pork belly, ground beef, baked plantain, chorizo, and fried eggs. You also get a slice of avocado.
Usually, the serving is very generous, which could drive you to an unexpected nap. The dish was meant for field workers back in the day, but today, you can also eat some for the energy to run the day.
In New York, you can stop for your plate of Bandeja Paisa at La Pollera de Mario on 41-20 Greenpoint Avenue.
Unlike Venezuelan arepas that come fully stuffed with ingredients, Colombian arepas are simple and easy to make. An order of Colombian arepas comes with cheese, butter, or egg on top. Arepas stuffed with cheese are the best, and you cannot say you have enjoyed Colombian food without trying some.
Arepas are common street food, which you can enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The pastry consists of a corn meal. Sometimes, the arepa pair well with shredded goat meat, chicken, or shrimp.
In NYC, you can find arepas at Arepa Lady, Palenque Colombian Food, Empanada Mama, Costas, or Que Arepa.
There is no disputing that Colombian soups are a magic treat for your palate. Sancocho is one of the most famous soups, and you can enjoy it for all meals
The dish contains some meat, ears or corn, stewed plantains, and avocado slice. However, the broth is traditionally clear, with huge chunks of yucca. You can get your sancocho in some restaurants with salsa de hierbas and herb sauce.
Casa Adela, Dulce Vida Latin Bistro, Sofrito and Malecon Restaurant are the best places to enjoy a warm sancocho in New York City.
Empanadas are to Colombia as waffles are to America, convenient, readily available, even on stalls, and unbelievably delicious. You can enjoy your empanada as a snack or meal with their crispy crust.
Colombian empanadas are traditionally made with shredded pork or beef. They also contain vegetables, rice, potatoes, and eggs. The beef/pork is stewed, mixed with potatoes, then filled into the precooked cornmeal mixture.
The empanadas come with a sauce, either hogao ( tomato-based with spices) or aji ( garlic and spicy peppers). Sometimes, you can get a lime wedge to add to your flavors.
The best empanadas in NYC come from Empanada loca, Criollas baked Empanadas or Empanada Mama L.E.S.
Posta negra closes off the list of the best Colombian foods in NYC. The dish sources its ingredients from Cartagena and comes in wide varieties.
Generally, the dish consists of slow-cooked beef. Usually, the beef is covered in dark sauce and served on a bed of rice. To top it off, the meal adorns a few slices of juicy, ripe, fresh tomatoes on top. The perfect dish will have sweetness, a hint of acid, and spicy flavors bursting in your mouth.
If you are in New York, and looking for a Colombian dish for your dinner or lunch, just hop into Manolo Tapas, Pollos a la Brasa Mario, or Bogota Latin Bistro.
Colombia offers a diverse dining experience. Luckily, these foods have traveled outside the country. So, there is no need to travel to Bogota to enjoy these delicacies. While in New York, you can pop into one of the many Colombian-food restaurants and enjoy the food.
Be warned, Colombian food has a distinctive but appreciable distinction. It draws many ingredients from its farmlands, forests, and mountains. It is also very addictive, delicious, and filling. Try a dish today, and you will be back for more.