Jackson Heights Is A New York City Treasure

How is it that I’ve lived in this city for over 20 years and I’ve never set foot in Jackson Heights until a couple of weeks ago?

I went there because I found out there was a Jollibee in Woodside, so my brother graciously offered to take me there. It took roughly 40 minutes to get there. It was a lot of traveling for really mediocre chicken.

After we bought chicken with a tub of gravy from Jollibee, I bought some tacos al pastor at a street cart nearby. These tacos… Let’s just say, next time, I’d definitely forgo Jollibee in favor of the tacos. I love tacos. Especially tacos al pastor. From this street cart. These were absolutely amazing. For just $3.00, I filled my belly with incredibly savory pork and pineapple topped with cilantro and some salsa verde. Delicioso.

Woodside and Jackson Heights are located next to each other — Elmhurst borders the latter on the south. The only place I’ve been to so far, is along Roosevelt Avenue, which makes up the southern border of the neighborhood. This area is where you see Tibetan restaurants next to Ecuadorian Lechon restaurants, Mexican taco carts in front of Colombian Arepa joints. It’s amazingly diverse. I guarantee you can walk down this avenue for hours trying to decide on a place to eat.

That almost happened to us.

My brother and I went back to Woodside / Jackson Heights to try out a cuisine that had evaded our palates for a long time: Colombian. I had never seen a Colombian restaurant in Manhattan, let alone in Brooklyn (am I hanging out in the wrong places?). It was cool (and weird) to have to travel to Queens to get some comidas Colombianas. It wasn’t a problem. I’d travel for hours for some good food and this, my brother promised, was good — except that he’d never actually been there before. He had read some reviews and said they were all overwhelmingly positive.

We got off at the 74th Street station and was met with a myriad of delicious aromas emanating from the variety of restaurants at street level.

The walk to the restaurant was painful, because I wanted to try everything.

After passing by dozens of restaurant fronts with images of delicious plates of food to pull you in, we finally arrived at Pollos A La Brasa Mario.

Turns out they’re a chain restaurant, but it didn’t feel like one at all.

They even have a YouTube video.

I took photos of the menu:

I ended up getting a bandeja con pollo al carbon and a side plate of chicharron con arepa blanco, which I thought would come out like all of the chicharron con arepas I’ve had. I would later be mistaken.

My brother, being the hungry carnivore he is, ordered a bandeja campesina.

Let’s just say that this was a lot of food for two people.

I couldn’t finish it all. I didn’t realize they’d give me soup beforehand either. It was a bit lukewarm and reminded me of chicken noodle sans noodle. They included chicken hearts in the soup, which was completely new to me. (I’ve never had chicken hearts before.) The soup was good! But I was more excited about my meal plus the chicharron.

My brother’s plate arrived first. He had three meats on his plate plus beans. I wish I took a photo of it, but I was too occupied with wondering where my food was.

I didn’t have to wait too long because it arrived. And when it arrived, it was basically airlifted down onto the table.

The rice was buttery and savory. The salad, well, after I doused it with their house sauce (ketchup and mayonnaise mixed together), I wolfed it down.

Let’s talk about the chicken. It was half of a rotisserie chicken and boy, was it juicy. The skin was salty and addicting. The meat was tender and moist. I’m drooling just thinking about it. The mixture of the rice and meat was blissful. Buttery rice and juicy chicken. Give me that every day.

The chicharron was really difficult to tear into. It was a strip of fried pork, complete with its skin and I didn’t know how to eat it. From my previous experiences getting chicharron, the restaurants had cut it up for me and put into an arepa, or at Mexican places, in a taco.

Never like this.

I tried to cut a piece of it, but the skin was way too crispy for my dull knife to dig into. I sheepishly grabbed the entire thing and tried to pry it with my fingers. That was difficult. I decided to bring it home and take care of it there, and I focused on my main dish.

I’m really glad I had the opportunity to visit Pollos Mario! I’d definitely trek back and go here for a long lunch. Maybe I’ll have a coffee there too (I don’t drink coffee, but I might in this case).

We wanted to take a nap after eating almost everything in front of us.

So we decided to take a long walk. That long walk turned into a really long walk. We walked from Jackson Heights back to the Court Square G.

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