2010-10-06 / Restaurant of the Week

Tierras Colombianas

Tierras Colombianas features the flavorful and diverse cuisine of Colombia. Even if you’re not familiar with this country’s cuisine or language, you will feel very welcome as you’re greeted by the friendly wait staff and owners Sophia and Peter. The bilingual menu and staff caters to a diverse clientele, which includes friends, families and the younger set who all love the quality, freshness, flavor and above all, abundance of the food!

Tierras Colombianas opened 15 years ago on Broadway in the heart of Astoria after 30 years of success in Jackson Heights. The spacious dining room and adjoining atrium have plenty of seating for groups large and small. Start your meal with one of their hearty soups, made fresh each day such as chunky beef and vegetable, lentil, chicken soup or a traditional oxtail soup that is perfect for dunking bread. Fresh salads include Caesar served straight up or topped with grilled chicken, or mixed greens with or without sliced avocado. Two or more dining together may want to share a delicious quesadilla as a first course, oozing with cheese and chicken or beef. Enjoy a frosty cold beer or bottle of wine with your meal.

Since Colombia has both coastal and mountainous regions, the cuisine reflects the richness of the land. Their “platos tipicos” or traditional plates are the most popular on the menu. To get a taste of everything, try the “Country Plate”, listed second on the menu, for a delicious overview of this tasty cuisine. It includes marinated, grilled steak that has been pounded thin, decadently delicious fried pork, plantains, avocado and their fabulous rice and beans. A round corn cake called “arepa” helps to soak up all the juices from this very generous platter ($14.50). “Carne asada” is grilled steak with salad, fried yucca, potato and rice and beans, a meal that will stick to your ribs for just $14.50. Perhaps the next most popular dish is the grilled chicken breast. Marinated in a blend of herbs and spices, this chicken is supremely tender and perfectly seasoned. It’s served with salad, sweet plantains, rice and beans and is a hit with everyone, even the kids ($15). “Entraña” is a sizzling skirt steak that is tender, juicy and cooked to order. The texture and flavor of this steak is enhanced by “chimichurri,” a sauce made of parsley, garlic and oil.

For something uniquely delicious, try the traditional “tamal” which is made from a ground maize mixture surrounding tender, shredded chicken, beef and vegetables. You won’t believe the size of this tamal, or its wonderful flavor and texture. It even comes with an arepa for just $9. Juicy pork chops are served grilled or fried along with crunchy, fried plantains. Tierras Colombianas does not use any trans fat for its cooking and though some items on the menu are fried, they’re never greasy or heavy.

From coastal Colombia come plenty of seafood dishes, such as the seafood casserole made with shrimp, clams and mussels in a creamy sauce, cooked in an iron pot. Shrimp in garlic sauce goes well over rice and the breaded, fried shrimp are addictive. Fresh catches of the day include salmon, large red snapper and porgy. You can have your fish broiled, fried or even steamed and all dishes come with their fabulous sides.

For dessert, don’t miss the warm, sweet bananas, cooked in brown sugar and cinnamon.

Flan with caramel syrup, in contrast, is cool and creamy. Figs in syrup with white cheese is a traditional dish and their rice pudding is also great. A hot cup of robust coffee is the perfect accompaniment to top off the meal at this comfortable, family restaurant. They will whip up fruity shakes for you too, made with fresh mango, papaya, berries and more, just ask for one.

Tierras Colombianas is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from 11am to 10pm weekdays and until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Orders can be packed up for pick up, which is ideal, given their proximity to the N train. In order to keep prices low and portions huge, only cash is accepted. If you’ve never experienced Colombian cuisine before, Tierras Colombianas is the place to try it. Those in the know, know that Tierras offers fresh, flavorful food, served in generous portions and very reasonable prices. Gracias!
33-01 Broadway • Astoria

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