Llama Inn: Not Your Average Barrio Bar

llama-innA truly international and rustic cuisine, Peruvian food deserves more acclaim than it receives. Serving up a melting pot of cultural influences including Spanish, African and Incan, yield iconic dishes like ceviche and Escabache de Pescado (fried fish with onion sauce). Peruvian dishes often have bold, complex and vibrant flavor, incorporating ingredients like aji chili and sweet lucuma (a native fruit).

Flavors such as these are proudly served at Brooklyn’s Llama Inn. Don’t let its hipster vibe fool you – the ‘Llama Drama’ (referring to the buzzing atmosphere) is serious about delicious authentic eats, reflecting Chef Erik Ramirez’ favorite nostalgic meals. Chef Ramirez and his staff have done a wonderful job turning a social haven into a full-scale, epicurean, must-visit. One of the stand-out dishes is the Beef Tenderloin Stir Fry. This visually stunning dish matches its aesthetics in taste as it is a beautiful mountain of sliced tenderloin topped with red onion, rocoto (hot chili pepper)  and French fries served with a side of avocado and scallion pancakes. The succulent beef is bathed in a luscious soy sauce, perfect for dipping fries or drizzled on a pancake burrito.

It’s difficult to go wrong at the Inn with so many exceptional selections including the refined octopus or spicy pork belly anticuchos (skewered meat). Whether a novice to Peru’s succulent fare or a native, Llama Inn is an unforgettable experience transporting diners’ taste buds to the motherland itself.
Hungry for more? Click here to watch the ‘Llama Drama’ in action on POUR featuring Llama Inn’s iconic Flying Purple Pisco cocktail.

Llama Inn

50 Withers Street

Brooklyn, NY 11211

718-387-3434

Tidbits:

Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 11 am – 3:30 pm

Rooftop bar and dining space

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U.ndeniably W.onderful S.pots in the U.W.S.

Many people know the Upper West Side, U.W.S. for short, for it’s exquisite museums – MOMA, The Museum of Natural History, the Planetarium and of course Central Park. But remember, this is New York City, one of the world’s food mecca’s and so ANY NEIGHBORHOOD in this city is known for it’s food – The Upper West Side included. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling some new dines and known favorites in this neighborhood.

New to me, but well established to locals is Canteen 82. This superb sushi and Shanghai-centric joint offers fresh, organic ingredients. So many imaginative sushi rolls in this eatery – there’s the Mango Fly Roll filled with spicy tuna and yellowtail fish topped with mango and also the Green Dragon Roll stuffed with sweet potato, shitake mushrooms and cucumber draped with avocado.

Green Dragon and Mango Fly Rolls, Canteen82
Green Dragon and Mango Fly Rolls, Canteen82

I cannot say enough about their succulent pork soup dumplings. These babies are similar to traditional dumplings but include a helping of pork broth inside, so your bite bursts with flavor to seduce your taste buds! You must try it at least once in your life. Unforgettable!

Address: 467 Columbus Ave. (bet. 82nd and 83rd )

Another popular place is Gabriela’s Restaurant & Tequila Bar. No passport necessary, but once your walk under the front trellis your are instantly transported to Gabriel’s back patio in Mexico. Authenticity is taken very seriously here. Especially in the coveted moles served – Poblano (pepper and chocolate based sauce) and Pipian(pumpkin seed and almond sauce). I recommend notable dishes: Empanada de Pollo Organico, a turnover filled with organic chicken, sautéed tomatoes and onions and the Pork Al Pastor tacos.

Empanadas de Pollo Organico, Al Pastor Tacos, Shrimp Chimichanga, and Suizas
Empanadas de Pollo Organico, Al Pastor Tacos, Shrimp Chimichanga, and Suizas

And you cannot miss the shrimp chimichanga filled with beans, cheese and tomato sauce (pictured) nor the Suizas enchilada packed with chicken topped with Pico de Gallo, sour cream and Green Salsa or you can opted for a mole sauce instead (pictured). No matter what you order you won’t be disappointed. Be adventurous and accompany your option with their delicious sangria or a fantastic margarita. Looking for a brunch option? Gabriela’s offers an unbeatable $13 spread of dishes every weekend and holiday!

Address: 688 Columbus Ave. (at 93rd st.)

One of my favorite places, The Meatball Shop, is one of the new kids on the block (literally). Recently making their claim to the UWS, Owners, Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow have opened their fifth location in Manhattan (sixth overall) which is all the buzz in town. This time, I tried the mysterious yet legendary Kitchen Sink Salad with a quinoas, turkey meatball topped with homemade pesto and vinaigrette dressing. The salad is made up of the chef’s choice of

Kitchen Sink Salad with Quinoas Turkey meatballs and pesto sauce
Kitchen Sink Salad with Quinoas Turkey meatballs and pesto sauce

greens and veggies. Mine included sliced apples, shredded carrots with raisins, sautéed cauliflower, mushrooms, and beets. All topped with extra mozzarella cheese. Absolutely tantalizing! I’ve reviewed The Meatball Shop in a previous post… if you’re hungry for more, read the full review here.

Address: 477 Amsterdam Ave.

Shakeshak, a glorious burger joint to New Yorkers. Known for it’s heavenly milkshakes, juicy burgers, dogs and addictive fries, this shack is a grill-grub home for museum tourists and natives alike. Cannot miss the DogMeister- a dog topped with Shack cheddar and American cheese sauce and crispy ShackMeister Ale-marinated shallots. Umm-hmm, sounds great, right? Wash it down with a Caramel shake or a featured beer. P.S. Congrats to ShakeShak for it’s newest location in Flatbush, Brooklyn!

Address: 366 Columbus Ave. ( at 77th st.)

Mexican Foodie Fiesta

Just got back from an enchanting trip to Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. This suburb outside of Puerto Vallarta boasts the deeply rooted traditions of Mayan Indian traditions which are beautifully shown through its vibrant culture, food and people. Since a picture says a thousand words here is a feast from my foodie experience while abroad. Enjoy!!

Juicy Cuban Sandwich (turkey ham, roasted pork, gouda cheese, and crispy potato wedges) Restaurant: Havana Moon
Juicy Cuban Sandwich (turkey ham, roasted pork, gouda cheese, and crispy potato wedges) Restaurant: Havana Moon in Nuevo Vallarta
Mexican Platter: Chili Relleno (tortilla wrapped green chili stuffed with cheese) , succulent skirt steak, roasted veggies and a chicken taquito.
Mexican Platter: Chili Relleno (tortilla wrapped green chili stuffed with cheese), succulent skirt steak, roasted veggies and a chicken taquito. Restaurant: Rumba! in Nuevo Vallarta
Doña Chanita Tequila Distillery: 5 varieties: Silver, Reposado, Anejo, Amaretto, & chocolate/Coffee
Doña Chanita Tequila Distillery: 5 varieties: Silver, Reposado, Anejo, Amaretto, & chocolate/Coffee. Distillery located on the island of Baja off the coast of Nuevo Vallarta
Classic Nachos... I couldn't resist!
Classic Nachos… I couldn’t resist
One of my favorite displays, La Plaza
One of my favorite displays, La Plaza
Macaroon Pyramid in the gourmet bakery, La Plaza
Macaroon Pyramid in the gourmet bakery, La Plaza
Hazelnut Molten Cake in the gourmet bakery, La Plaza
Hazelnut Molten Cake in the gourmet bakery, La Plaza
Queso Fondue with chorizo Restauant: Calle Encinco in Puerto Vallarta
Queso Fondue with Chorizo
Restaurant: Calle Encinco in Puerto Vallarta

My May 5th!

So, Cino de Mayo has come and gone. Hope you seized the day for all it was worth! My NYC Mexican/Spanish food crawl was fantastic! First stop was Las Ramblas in the West Village. This quaint, rustic, cantina was the perfect spot to start the evening. Touted for serving traditional Spanish tapas, here are the highlights: ensalada costa brava (tomatoes, onions, roasted peppers, orange segments, & basil w/ raspberry vinegar – a great choice to prepare the palate for further fare), empanadas de pollo (chicken turnovers), savory chorizo con alubias (Spanish sausage w/ cannellini beans & onions) and brochetas de res (Grilled skewers of beef in a tempranillo wine reduction). All of this plus refreshing white peach sangria, brought tears to my eyes. I could have called it a night, but what sense did that make? I hadn’t had the expected margarita, and it was too early in the evening. So, after the first round of noshing, a friend and I did some sightseeing and walked 30 blocks to Penn Station (si, you read it right, THIRTY blocks). Meeting up with another friend, we all journeyed to the Murray Hill area for ‘ritas!

Second stop on the crawl was at Tavern on Third for a classic margarita. Although, the restaurant was not a typical fiesta hang-out, it served up a mean margarita. Strong and ice cold with a wedge of lime – just what we needed to kick off the fun. Afterward, we stumbled, (literally) upon a hole-in-the-wall, La Palapa (3rd Ave. bwn 26 st& 27th st), next to the tavern. There, housed absolutely authentic tacos and burritos bursting at the seams with a choice of juicy grilled chicken, pork, or beef, rice, beans and cheese. Knowing we were only snacking, instead of devouring, we each ordered a $2 soft taco. The best of our choices was the chorizo: finely ground and full of flavor with a pleasant balance between salty and the spicy peppers.

ImageThe last stop was Rodeo Bar and Grill I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was an actual rodeo going on there. With live music in the main bar area and celebrations all around we picked a great party spot. Being the nacho aficionado that I am, I dove head-first into the Nacho Grande Platter (pictured right). Each tortilla was beautifully decorated with chicken and black beans, covered by a blanket of magnificently melted cheese. And it got better with pico de gallo scattered on top. Somehow, I have developed a dangerous taste for empanadas (and so have my friends) so it was obvious that we’d have a side of those. Golden brown, fried to perfection, filled with diced red peppers and pollo mixed with Mexican spices, these bite size treats stood no chance. Both dishes were excellent. For this last leg of the trip, we washed everything down with agave’s favorite cocktail – frozen margaritas! (Naturally.) Our flavors of choice were Pomegranate and Mango…

Happiness.