Peruvian Charm Abounds
El Anzuelo Fino
86-01 Northern Boulevard Jackson Heights
Hours: 8 a.m. to midnight
Credit Cards: All Major
Located inconspicuously on a Northern Boulevard corner, El Anzuelo Fino’s royal blue awning makes the Peruvian mecca seemingly unimposing. At outward glance, the restaurant blends in with the long chain of eateries that line the busy street.
El Anzuelo Fino does not set out to be stuck up or snooty, the main motive is simple: to provide the community with fine Peruvian cuisine. This aim is reinforced clearly in the restaurant’s confident slogan, which asserts that El Anzuelo Fino offers the area “the best seafood and rotisserie chicken.” Based on the lunch rush of regulars, it would appear their self-assured motto is not merely false bravado but instead, the truth.
After nearly three decades of existence across the Western Hemisphere, the eatery has its recipes down to a science. The first El Anzuelo Fino opened in 1982 in Lima, Peru, situated almost 3,629 miles from the borough. After relocating to the United States, owner Amilcar Torres opened a second installment of the restaurant in Woodhaven in 1998. After receiving a warm reception in Southern Queens, Torres decided to shorten the travel time to the restaurant for Northern Queens Peruvian cuisine enthusiasts by establishing a third El Anzuelo Fino in Jackson Heights in 2008. The third restaurant’s opening rounded out Torres’ tradition of adding a new El Anzuelo Fino location with every new decade.
El Anzuelo Fino is a haven for any Peruvian looking to return to their roots through a traditional culinary experience. The cevice and extensive seafood offerings will transport patrons to another place, whether it be a hike in the Andres, a trek through the Amazon jungle, a jaunt on the shores of Tumbes or a memory of the magnificence of Machu Picchu.
The restaurant is also a treat for any adventurous taste tester, the foodie equivalent of Evel Knievel, eager to sample fare from all four corners of the globe. And yet still the menu offers options for safe eaters, who prefer to stick with the simple stuff like pastas, pitas and burgers.
My guest and I began our meal with a Chicken Empanada. The appetizer was cooked to perfection. The crispy dough enclosure housed a well-seasoned poultry stuffing my guest and I devoured, leaving us both questioning why we decided to go halfsies on the starter rather than each enjoying our own. Just as our empanada experience drew to a close our entrees were brought out with precision timing.
My guest ordered Arroz Chaufa de Mariscos (seafood fried rice.) When her dish came out, our eyes both widened with amazement. The plate was overflowing with an assortment of seafood from mussels to squid. This was no skimpy serving of seafood; it was almost as if the chef had drained the entire Atlantic to make her meal. My guest praised the pairing of flavors and celebrated the shrimp size noting that her plate was void of any of the shrimpy (size-wise) crustaceans other restaurants all seem to be serving. In fact, after enjoying a sizable portion of the plate, she was able to wrap up a whole tin stuffed with seafood for her next meal.
I ordered an Aji de “Gallina”, a shredded chicken in turmeric and Peruvian yellow hot pepper cream. It was a departure from the type of dish I typically order and I was pleasantly surprised by the new taste sensations that tickled my tongue.
When our entrees were wrapped up to make their transition into the leftover stage of their life cycle, Torres came out with Leche Asada, a Peruvian style custard. We both inhaled the dish. The sweet dessert was a perfect way to close our first foray into fine Peruvian fare.
On the ride home, we marveled at the restaurant’s extensive take away menu. In addition to offering 128 different dishes and an array of beverages, the eatery also awards patrons a $6 lunch special, free delivery and private room rentals.
All and all, it’s simple: If you’re looking for a taste of Peru, El Anzuelo Fino is the restaurant for you.
— Kaitlyn Kilmetis