Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Corona’ Category

El Gauchito

If you’re like me, you probably don’t find yourself at the intersection of Junction Boulevard and Corona Avenue that often. It’s not really near anything (unless you live nearby, of course–one man's far away is always someone else's neighborhood) besides Citifield. It's not a bad intersection for choice; there’s Peruvian, Colombian, a pizzeria selling Mexican food, and dueling Argentine parrilladas with butcher counters across the street from each other.

El gauchito exterior

My original intent was to go to La Esquina Criolla, a place I have only been once and not recently, but it was practically empty while El Gauchito had a wait for tables despite being twice the size (there’s a another dining room to the left of the entrance). Normally I hate lines, but this felt less like a lemming situation and more like the diners knew something that I didn't. It only ended up being 10 minutes.

El Gauchito is relaxed, fun, and the walls are plastered with colorful tiles with Argentine celebs and public figures painted on them, that style that seems whimsical and '80s but is just kind of Spanish, or in this case a Euro-Latino mash-up. It's the kind of place where you don’t feel self-conscious buying a $24 bottle of Malbec; just like in Buenos Aires there’s a lot of value. And also like in Argentina you can have pasta (I love how gnocchi is spelled ñocchi—it makes so much more phonetic sense) and milanesas if you don’t feel like grilled meat.

El gauchito provolone

First you’re brought a provolone and salami appetizer, dressed in chimichurri and oregano. It's a good thing I got a little cheese into my system or else I would've been tempted to order the provoleta, and the last thing I need right now is an oozing slab of grilled cheese.

El gauchito parrillada

Instead of the full mixed grill I went dainty and ordered a combo, number four. I really just wanted a bursting at the seams morcilla–Argentine versions are unusually moist, loosely packed and spreadable–and flank steak, medium-rare. The chorizo is often too dry and crumbly for my tastes–I prefer a fattier, cured Spanish version or the ground-up Mexican style. But anything doused in garlicky chimichurri (if Americans are scared of pesto, how well would they handle this?) is elevated a notch or two. The pictured fries and Russian salad are just two side options; less Argentine, more Latino beans and rice can also be had.

El gauchito panqueque

Even if you're full (just eat half your meat) a panqueque, filled with thick dulce de leche, and smeared with whipped cream is delightful, especially with the tableside pyrotechnics that don't accompany all panqueques in the city.

The one oddity, perhaps to discourage lingering and alleviate weekend lines, was a sign in the window declaring that no alcohol would be served after meals.

Yes, I’ve been playing with Instagram, hence the inconsistent filters. Even though I had toted my DSLR along, sometimes you just don’t feel the need to go hardcore food porny on a restaurant.

El Gauchito * 94-60 Corona Ave., Corona, NY

La Esquina Criolla

I would never claim to be an Argentine/Argentinean (either are acceptable—I can never decide which sounds better) food connoisseur but I do indulge in a mixed grill every now and then. And always in Queens.

However, La Esquina Criolla was new to me. I knew the name but I rarely get out to Corona. Neighboring Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, all the time, but I never go that extra bit east unless I’m going to Flushing.


I was joining an internet stranger and his friend for what I think is a semi-regular Friday night event. If I was old(er) I would say that I met them on the computer, nay, machine. That’s the thing about NYC, people who you correspond with every so often might actually live in your city, and quite possibly your neighborhood.

When I used to have print pen pals in Portland, which was considered a zine hotbed (along with Berkeley and Olympia) I rarely met up with anyone in person, and the few times I did it didn’t end too well. Freaks I didn’t know would find my phone number and call me from time to time, though. (Some of them were blind, manic, small town homosexuals into verbal slash fiction involving childstars…but that’s for another time.)

Nothing bad happened beyond a few tough pieces of beef. Food-related internet strangers are never killers; at most they might be weird or dorky (often the case with any obsession, culinary or not) and often they're completely normal. Actually, the worst food crazed stranger might be the hipster. I know they exist, I see their posts and comments. Not that these gents (and I’m thinking of men for some reason) and I cross paths. But I have some ideas about this hard to pin down and under exposed group. I suspect that they are involved with or attend “secret” supper clubs. They possibly  cultivate their own honey, make pickles or other artisanal products in a practice space or on a Bushwick rooftop. Hmm…I’d like to say something about Asian girlfriends but I don’t want to get a hater reputation. Can I say that they probably subscribe to Diner Journal and not offend anyone?


A meaty brown still life. Sure, you can stick with skirt steak or short ribs, but I like all the odd bits. Kidneys, sweetbreads, blood sausage and intestines (which always seem to be included despite not being listed on the menu) I can deal with. What I can’t handle are the regular pork sausages. Just like Jimmy Dean patties, they always give me a stomachache.


No olives, peanuts, and the like. When your freebie (at least I think this was on the house) is meat you know what you’re in for. I didn’t concern myself with distractions like empanadas. It's not always a good idea to delve into vegetables, pastas and salads at Argentine places anyway.


I did break my low-starch fast and shared a plate of yuca. I was pleased
that they were cut small for maximum surface crispiness. I do love this
root vegetable but only in this form–it's not as fun when it comes in a solid boiled
chunk like a wet potato.


Everything can be improved with chimichurri. I realize it’s not difficult to make (garlic, parsley, vinegar and olive oil) but I picked up a bottled version last year and it just wasn’t the same.


Combo #4 is solid: skirt steak, short rib and sausage.


The lord was my shepherd even in the bathroom. I don't know that framed bible photos in the lavatory are exactly an Argentinean trademark.

Later that night, I discovered that intestines are a great low carb snack. I mean, once you get over the trauma of nibbling on a digestive tract. More so than kidneys which are super concentrated and organy, sweetbreads, which are kind of fluffy and sometimes bitter. Intestines are satisfyingly chewy, crispy if charred right, and just a little fatty. I’ve never gotten into popcorn (though I do like caramel corn), it’s just salty and boring,  but a little carton of innards would be the perfect accompaniment to a movie.

La Esquina Criolla * 94-67 Corona Ave., Corona, NY

Plaza Garibaldi

This was my first stop while doing <A href=>michelada research</a>, so I came across a little hesitant in ordering the spicy drink. My michelada naiveté totally got me pegged as a culinarily ignorant gringa. After we decided to stay and order food, we kept getting steered away from the things we actually wanted and pushed towards items like quesadillas. When James ordered something with chorizo and I asked for the pernil torta we were informed, “thats pork, you know.” This would be the first of two exact same warnings at Mexican restaurants that week. Where did the idea that Americans dont like pork come from? Do they think all New Yorkers are Jewish? It always weirds me out when wait staff tries talking me out of items I'm interested in, especially when the dish in question isnt particularly odd. But even if I wanted to try lambs eyeballs or guinea pigs, that would be my bad choice if I didnt end up liking it.

Plaza Garibaldi * 89-12 Roosevelt. Ave., Corona, NY

Empanadas del Parque

Definitely the best of the bunch of empanada places I tried for a New York Post article. The
empanadas were made with care and delicacy. And while they get a little
creative with fillings–banana and Nutella or ham and pineapple–they don't
go overboard with novelty. Plus, they have a freezer case filled with
amazing fresh fruit helados.

Empanadas del Parque *
56-27 Van Doren St., Corona, NY