Colombia in New York City: Your Guide to All Things Colombian in NYC
October 26 2018
Colombian culture isn’t as obvious as other Latino cultures in Manhattan, but cumbia rhythms in dance clubs, guava-stuffed empanadas and a vibrant Colombian community in Queens give New Yorkers a little taste of the South American country.
Is your knowledge of Colombia limited to its coffee? Luckily, New York City has such a diverse mix of cultures that you can get a glimpse of Colombia without having to leave the city. Here are some places to check out.
Encuentro NYC Festival
Founded by husband-wife duo Pablo and Anna Mayor, this annual festival brings Colombian musicians to the stage to celebrate the music, dance and rich cultures of Colombia. This year marks the festival’s 14th installation and will feature an Encuentro Underground series that focuses on the roots of Colombian music, from flamenco to afro-beats. The schedule for the November event is still underway, but keep up on all the news at encuentronyc.com
FOLKColumbia at the Center for Traditional Music & Dance
This free community project shares the culture of Colombian dance and music with kids. Performances take place year round, which include the rhythms and styles of bambuco, currulao, cumbia, and joropo, to name a few. Be in the know about upcoming shows, festivals and events on their Facebook page.
Authentic Food in Little Colombia
This small enclave in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens has the highest concentration of Colombians and Colombian-owned businesses. Here’s a look at the best spots in the area, primarily located on Roosevelt Avenue from the 82nd St. Subway station up to 84th Street.
La Nueva Bakery - La Nueva is a neighborhood favorite, serving staples like pandebono - Colombian cheese bread - and buñuelo - fried dough. They also serve cakes and Argentine and Uruguayan goods. For many, this is a little taste of home. Bring cash. 86-10 37th Ave., Jackson Heights
Pollos a la Brasa Mario - Saying that Pollos a la Brasa Mario is a neighborhood staple would be an understatement. Open 24 hours, this no-frills establishment serves home-cooked Colombian plates filled to the brim. Expect rotisserie chicken, seafood and meat-heavy platters. Order anything with “Bandeja” in the title for a mix of meats with a side of beans, tostones (fried plantains), rice, and avocado. 81-01 Roosevelt Ave, Jackson Heights
Arepa Lady - Before the Arepa Lady restaurant, the arepa lady - Maria Cano - began selling fluffy, cornmeal arepas from a cart she pushed along 37th Avenue in 1984. Business has only grown in the last 30 years, and today the casual sit-down eatery has more chairs but the same great menu. Order a stuffed arepa or chicken chuzo with a beer. Casual eats at an excellent price. 77-17 37th Ave., Jackson Heights
Colombia’s coffee is simply the best because it’s grown at such a high elevation. For a taste of rich, Colombian coffee, stop by the humble Don Café espresso jeep on the southwestern corner of Central Park at 59th and Central Park West. Enjoy an authentic Colombian coffee in New York City’s prettiest park.
Another authentic spot for Colombian pastries and coffee in Manhattan is the Juan Valdéz Café in Midtown. Order an arepa de choclo to go with your morning java. Located at 140 E 57th St.
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