The following article is the first in a new recurring food review series in partnership with eattheworldnyc.com. The full review appeared in the September 13th print edition of The Queens Tribune.
When I first sampled the thick stews of Guatemala at this location almost 15 years ago, I could never have known how finding them in restaurants could be so elusive. So rare in fact that later that year on a trip through Central America, I found myself constantly hearing “Ese es un plato que solo comemos en casa” in restaurants throughout Guatemala.
“We only eat those foods at home.”
The wildly enjoyable jocón and hilachas at what then was called “La Xelajú” are almost unheard of in restaurants in the New York City area. Only one other time had I found a rendition of hilachas across the Hudson River, but this only made the yearning more fierce as it seemed no love had been put into the plate at that restaurant.
Thankfully for over 20 years the specials here at what is now Tierras Centro Americanas have stayed wonderfully steady despite one change of hands. Current owner and chef Maria Escobar took over in 2006 and employed its former chef for two years to pass down the Guatemalan recipes she was less familiar with. Hailing from El Salvador but living in New York City since the early 1980’s, Ms. Escobar decided the menu should keep its focus on an integrated cuisine that represented both countries and also catered to Hondurans in the area. This recipe for success and a commitment to quality have led to a consistency that is quite rare in restaurants. In over two dozen visits I do not remember an off day from this kitchen.
To read the full review click here.