1/2 Ok, I thought the scantily clad waitresses/tiki bar combo at Listo el Pollo was surreal but Boca Juniors is downright nutty. I’ve driven (well, been the passenger) past this color crayon bright corner a million times on the way to Target, and only recently did I get the urge to pay a visit.
You know with Argentine (or Argentinean—both are correct and it drives me crazy that there’s no definitive term) restaurants that you’re going to be eating meat and lots of it. With that in mind, you have to be in the mood and I’m only up for a serious parrillada maybe every couple months. My last foray was Buenos Aires in the East Village back when it was icy out. Now it’s warm enough for a new South American carnivorous adventure.
Well, it turned out the food, while surprisingly good, is hardly the focal point. It helps if you know that Boca Juniors are a wildly popular Argentine soccer team and that this is essentially a theme steakhouse. They’ve taken the team’s blue and yellow color scheme to new levels and every square inch of the restaurant including the plates, napkins, walls, carpets as well as the waitstaffs’ shiny track suits. I was most impressed by the mulleted visage, which I’m guessing belongs to a prominent player (I don’t even know my Mets and Yankees so recognition was futile) etched into the windows.
We felt we needed to squeeze some vegetables into our meal so we went with potatoes and eggplant, laced with mayonnaise and olive oil respectively. Healthy. Berenjena y ensalada rusa, to be precise. The Italian influence I’m aware of, the Russian bit not so much though “Russian salads” seem to make an appearance in widely diverse cuisine.
I’m the only one who’ll eat blood sausage and strangely, I’m not fond of regular pork sausage. So, both dark tubes are mine and James gets the other two. I couldn’t even finish a whole one, though. You don’t always get intestines so that was a chewy surprise. After eating a couple of those, a few bites of sweetbreads and the strip of steak, I was done in. Just a steak would’ve been fine but I like picking at the odd bits, just not enough to order an entire plate of them. I made a slightly overpowering chimichurri the following night to eat the leftovers with. I was trying to be light-handed with the olive oil but the garlic does need tempering.
I didn’t realize the panqueque would be crepes, despite the word pancake implying as much. The layer cake from San Antonio Bakery (I know, Chilean not Argentine) is called pancake and filled with dulce de leche and that’s what I was thinking of. But the crepes were pretty amazing because they were also sprinkled with granulated sugar and broiled, creating a crispy crème brule style effect.
We were about to leave when the lights dimmed and most employees began gathering in the back near the bar with enormous blue and yellow umbrellas. I was like oh, it must be a birthday. Then the giant blue and yellow umbrellas came out. WTF? Staccato music was flipped on that could only be described as a fight song. With the exception of one diner who looked angry and disgusted by the disruption, many were clapping or waving napkins. Umbrella twirlers began parading between the tables, half-size soccer balls were given to kids. For pointless noise and excitement (yet, sadly no ice cream—though they did have a dessert called Don Pedro, which I think was something icy topped with brandy) it certainly beats Farrell’s. Plus, you can’t eat intestines at Farrell’s.
Boca Juniors * 8108 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst, NY