POLLOS A LA BRASA MARIO
Everyone loves Pollos A La Brasa Mario on Broadway in Astoria. The festive interior resembles a tropical courtyard with brightly painted balconies overlooking orange trees and colorful paintings. On a recent Wednesday evening, the clean, cozy dining room was packed with families, friends and couples, enjoying a fabulous meal here at Pollos A La Brasa Mario. The bi-lingual menu makes ordering easy and the staff is very friendly and helpful. They do a brisk delivery business too, so call in an order to your home or office.
It started 14 years ago with the tantalizing aromas of their famous chicken, marinated with a special blend of spices and slow-cooked on the rotisserie oven. Take one of these succulent chickens home with some sides of rice and beans and everyone’s happy, especially when a whole rotisserie roasted chicken costs just $7.95. In addition, there’s a complete menu of traditional Colombian dishes includes steak, chops, fish and seafood. Breakfast and lunch specials are served too. The flavorful, fresh cuisine served here appeals to everyone, so don’t be afraid to try something new.
My friend and I enjoyed a glass of house wine, but there’s also ice cold beer and fruity drinks made from guava, mango, papaya and passion fruit that are very popular in Colombia. We started with a plate of fresh guacamole with crunchy tostones (plantains) for dipping, and some of their handmade arepas with cheese. Arepas are a type of pancake made with coarsely ground white corn, cooked on a hot griddle, then topped with melted cheese. Each day, a different homemade soup is offered made with beef, chicken, plantains, fish or oxtail. Tonight, there was chicken with vegetable soup.
Pollos A La Brasa Mario features plenty of seafood dishes to choose among including whole red snapper, fried or broiled, with plantains, rice and salad. We saw nearby diners enjoying “asopado de marisco” which is a seafood soup served in a cast iron pot and ordered the same. This delicious dish included plump shrimp, fresh mussels, rings of calamari, octopus and juicy crab legs in a savory broth that was delicious when spooned over the fluffy white rice. We both dug in to this dish with plenty left over. Another popular shrimp dish is composed around a mound of saffron rice and vegetables ( $ 1 5 . 9 5 ) . Shrimp in garlic sauce is heady and aromatic, while even the kids will devour the golden, breaded shrimp, tender and crunchy. For a traditional specialty, you ought to try the seafood cazuela, which combines lobster, crab shrimp and clams in a thick and flavorful cream sauce.
Portions at Pollos A La Brasa Mario are very generous so bring your appetite and your favorite carnivore with you for maximum enjoyment. Meat from the sizzling grill plays an important role in Colombian cuisine and the “bandeja Mario” provides a sampling of grilled steak, one quarter chicken, pork loin, fried pork skins, salad, beans and rice and a homemade arepa, all for $18.25. This is a great way to sample many typical dishes all at once and I dare you to finish everything on your plate. Another popular entrée is called “entraña,” or grilled skirt steak, cooked to order and served with a crunchy salad, rice and tender, pink beans. Ask for the tangy chimmichurri sauce to pour on this tender, juicy steak. Chuletas are pork chops grilled on an open flame, or you can try Lomo de cerdo which is tender roasted pork loin, boneless and delicious. All meat entrées are served with rice and their outrageously delicious beans, salad, and French fries.
For dessert, we shared a hunk of tres leches cake, which is moist and sweet, the perfect ending to this savory meal. There is also cool, creamy flan in caramel sauce and passion fruit mousse, best accompanied by a cup of robust Colombian coffee.
At lunch time, Pollos’ prices are cheaper than fast food and you’ll get real, honest food. For just $7.95 served Monday to Friday, from 11am to 5:00pm choose among chicken Marsala on Monday, grilled pork chops on Tuesday, fish fillet on Wednesday, grilled steak and mushroom sauce on Thursday, and T-bone steak on Friday. The low price includes a generous helping of their delicious rice and beans.
Bring a big appetite for breakfast and feast on scrambled eggs, with tomato and scallions, fried eggs with ham or arepas con queso. It is not uncommon for Colombian people to eat grilled steak with rice and beans for breakfast, so why not try that? Pollos A La Brasa Mario is open until 3am weekdays and until 6am Fridays and Saturdays for your late night cravings. Have your order delivered for free. The “cash only” policy helps keep the prices so low. This is a great place to explore the delicious, diverse cuisine of Colombia at very reasonable prices so bring a friend and check it out. The staff is very friendly and helpful and you can take orders to go. Bon appétit and buen provecho!
40-19 Broadway, Astoria