Long Island Food Review: La Brasa
I was intrigued by a new Columbian restaurant tucked away next to a Getty gas station and a Laundromat. La Brasa Restaurant, I am happy to report is one of those wonderful old-fashioned mom and pop restaurants that are becoming rarer and rarer. It’s a tiny little charmer of a place, the décor slightly fancier than a diner or a luncheonette, with white table cloths, but with a tv playing Spanish soaps. At the moment, they’re redoing their prices on the overhead lit up fast food menu, so when you walk in, just walk up to the register and grab a paper menu.
Rotisserie chicken is their specialty (and at $8 to for a whole chicken to go, quite reasonable), but don’t just limit your choosings to chicken. I’ve been back several times and I’ve never been disappointed. On Weekdays between 11:30pm to 3pm they serve great $7 lunch specials that come with a ton of food. (For a small little girl like me, this ends up being my dinner too.
I’ve had the Friday lunch special, Arroz con Pollo (shredded chicken rice) with salad, sweet plantains & soup. This was the Columbian version of fried rice with chicken, peas, carrots and it was quite nice. The chicken soup was a lovely old-fashioned home-made Columbian soup, with bits of cilantro and yucca, though lacking in the meat. It reminded me of my dad’s homemade Chinese soups where the point of a soup is the flavor of the liquid, and not what’s in the soup.
Today though, even though it was Friday, the guy let me order the Wednesday lunch special, which was pork, sweet plantains, soup, and rice and beans. The grilled pork was perfectly seared, juicey and full of flavor. The rice and beans, were perfect as always as was the plantains (and let me just say that before I tried this place, I hated plantains. That’s how good they are). And the beef soup, was wonderfully flavored, though again, lacking in the meat with only one chunk. But all that food for just $7!
I also got an order of empanadas for only $1.25. You get three, and I have to say, the texture was perfect, with a crunchy corn meal crust filled with pork and onion on the inside. Dip it in their homemade hot sauce of cilantro, garlic, and onion and you’ve got a great appetizer.
This place also prides itself on Columbian hot dogs “perros calientes” with 9 different kinds and for good reason. They’re served on a large sesame roll with a combination of lettuce, onion, ketchup, mayo, mustard, jalapeno and pineapple sauce and are wonderful. Prices range from $3.50 for the Super Perro (mozzarella, sauces, lettuce and onion) to $5 for the Mixto (topped with chorizo, chicken, mozzarella, sauces, lettuce and onion). Excellent hot dog, but this is definitely another case of quality over quantity (we Americans are too fat anyway) as the toppings are much larger than the skinny, but wonderfully flavored hot dog.
This is not to say every dish is like that, quality over quantity. You want meat? Order the Picada, which is a literally, a tray of meat, including chopped grilled steak, chicken, fired pork skin, chorizo, yucca, sweet plantains, green plantains, potato and corn cakes. The thing is massive; you could feed 2 people on it easily, and if you have girls with small appetites, you could feed 4. At $19.95, it’s a bargain.
Support old-fashioned mom-and-pop restaurants and local small businesses in Suffolk County. Stop by La Brasas, just a 5 minute straight shot down Hawkins Ave off of Exit 60 of the L.I.E. Grab some food and take it to the Hamptons with you.
La Brasa Restaurant
426 Hawkins Ave
Lake Ronkonkoma, NY 11779