In my book, Bolivia earns some serious points just for the name of one of its national dishes, pique a lo macho. My Spanish is pretty rusty, but I think the (very) rough translation is something like “snacks like the macho” or “pickings of the manly man.” I’m pretty sure that the name comes from the fact that you need to be a big, badass dude to finish a plate of the stuff, especially if you’ve already warmed up with a few salteñas as appetizers.
Pique a lo macho consists of seasoned beef, fried onions, more fried beef, a few fried peppers and tomatoes, fried (mild, white) cheese, fried bits of hotdog, and fried potatoes, topped with a mildly spicy red sauce. It’s a perfect dish if you’re on a diet… well, at least if you’re on the Chub Load diet. Sunnyside’s Mi Bolivia, which seems to be NYC’s only established Bolivian restaurant, serves a monstrous plate of the stuff for $11; it might be enough to feed two manly men, depending on the size of those men.
My lovely dining companion—who is arguably somewhat less manly than I am—ordered revuelto de pollo ($11), described on the menu as “chicken with egg sauce.” I don’t think either of us were particularly excited about the thought of egg sauce, but the dish was actually a plate of eggs scrambled with chicken, diced
potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and green peas. It was a deceptively tasty meal, even though it looked grey and lifeless; the revuelto de pollo reminded me of Ecuadorian mote pillo, which is among the best Latin foods I’ve eaten anywhere in NYC.
If the reviews on yelp are any indication, the real reason for Mi Bolivia’s popularity is its baked Bolivian empanadas (your choice of chicken or beef, $2 each), better known as salteñas. Bolivian salteñas are comparable to Chilean baked empanadas, except for two huge differences: salteñas are made from a much sweeter dough, and the filling is juicy as all hell; the Chilean beef and chicken empanadas are usually much drier. Mi Bolivia’s salteñas dripped all over our chins, but were obscenely delicious; my (somewhat un-macho) companion literally licked the juice off the plate while I pretended to look away.
Of course, we didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell at finishing all of the food we ordered; a pair of the salteñas alone could have made a reasonable lunch. In a rare appetite failure, I ate my share of the salteñas, guzzled a big glass of fresh passion fruit juice ($3, and highly recommended), and left most of the fried hotdogs and a few bits of French fries and beef and cheese and onions on my plate of pique a lo macho, delicious as it was. My belly was only macho enough to finish 2/3 of my entrée. You win, Bolivia.
44-10 48th Ave., Sunnyside, Queens
Subway: 46th-Bliss (7 train)