2013-12-11 / Restaurant of the Week

TIERRAS COLOMBIANAS

For the rich, diverse cuisine of Colombia, visit Tierras Colombianas on Broadway in Astoria. If you’ve never been exposed to this flavorful cuisine, the helpful staff and bilingual menu will recommend the right dish for you.

Owners Sophia and Peter have been serving up enormous portions of their delicious cuisine for over 17 years to the pleasure of many. The airy, spacious dining room has both comfortable tables and booths and the adjoining, glass-enclosed atrium is a great place for people watching. Seating for large groups can be accommodated and Tierras Colombianas would be a great place for friends to celebrate a birthday or any other fun occasion.

Our friendly waitress started us with arepas, which are traditional white corn cakes, cooked on the griddle either plain, or with chorizo sausage, Ceviche is a cold, marinated seafood salad made with fresh shrimp. Now with chilly weather upon us, one of their hearty soups, such as chunky beef and vegetable, lentil, chicken soup or a traditional ‘sancocho’ oxtail soup will warm your soul. We loved the homemade lentil soup, with cubes of beef, celery, and carrots, seasoned with fragrant cilantro ($8 for a large bowl). Although quesadillas aren’t typically Colombian, these are too good to miss. Share one as a starter, gooey with cheese and chicken or beef. Cold beer and wine are served with a smile. Crunchy salads include Caesar served straight up or topped with grilled chicken, or mixed greens with or without sliced avocado.

If you look at a map of Colombia you’ll see that it has both coastal and mountainous regions, and 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 ($14.50) ). “Entraña” is a sizzling skirt steak that is tender, juicy and cooked to order. The texture and flavor of this steak is enhanced by “chimmichurri”, a sauce made of parsley, garlic and oil. Dig in!

“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. “Chuletas” are juicy pork chops that are served two to an order, either grilled or broiled and come with salad, plantains, rice and beans ($17). We were told one of the most popular dishes is the grilled chicken breast. Marinated in a blend of herbs and spices, this chicken is super tender and perfectly seasoned. 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. I dare you to finish any one of these generous portions, but if you can’t, trust me, they taste even better the next day! It’s good to note that 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.

Now for the seafood side of the country, try the hearty seafood casserole made with shrimp, clams and mussels in a creamy sauce, cooked in an iron pot. Shrimp in garlic sauce or Creole style go well over rice and the breaded, fried shrimp are great for munching on. Fillet of sole is tender and flaky, filled with mixed seafood. Fresh catches of the day include brook trout, salmon, large red snapper and porgy. You can have your fish broiled, fried or even steamed and all dishes come with their delicious side dishes.

Sweeten your palate with traditional “tres leches” cake made with three types of sweet milk. Creamy flan with caramel sauce, rice pudding, or figs in syrup with white cheese go well with a hot cup of coffee.

Tierras Colombianas is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from noon to 10pm on weekdays and until 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Call in your order for dinner and pick it up on the way home from work, as they are conveniently located near the N/Q trains Broadway station. Treat yourself to the hearty dishes and robust flavors of Colombia at Tierras Colombianas. Buen Provecho!

33-01 Broadway  Astoria
718.956.3012

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