Sabor Paisa for a “fast” and delicious lunch


| ccruz@queenscourier.com |

We have all had the problem of having just an hour for lunch. Since this is the case for many of the municipal workers at Queens Borough Hall and the surrounding courts, Sabor Paisa has lunch down to a science.

With people distributing menus at the exits of the E and F trains at the Kew Gardens/Union Turnpike station, Colombian businesswoman Patricia Ramirez, owner of Sabor Paisa located at 120-36 Queens Boulevard, makes sure that employees and visitors to the local government building know about the delicious Latin dishes at her restaurant.

“Everything at the courthouse happens very quickly and people have to get back to work,” said Ramirez.

Ramirez, who purchased the restaurant about 10 years ago from a friend who no longer wanted to run it, knew that to be successful she needed to adapt to her clients’ needs. So she decided to serve food of her native Colombia and other Caribbean countries like the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Venezuela – where she lived and once owned a restaurant – cafeteria style. Now, Ramirez offered daily food specials all for under $10.

“It gets packed for lunched here Mondays through Fridays,” she said about the small six two-seater locale with several countertop stools. There’s even a high chair. Most people buy their food to go. But what Sabor Paisa lacked in décor, they made up for with friendly customer service.

“You have to have the food ready; if not they [crowds] leave,” said Ramirez.

Meatballs, stuffed round eye steak, barbeque pork ribs, stewed chicken, beef or oxtail, roast pork shoulder with yucca, beefsteak, codfish, fried fish and pork chops are among the heavy lunch entrees that Sabor Paisa offers for lunch with sides like white or yellow vegetable rice, red or black beans, ripe or green plantains and salad. Now that’s one hearty meal!

During a Wednesday lunch visit, the stewed beef easily came apart once bitten, a good sign for a “fast food” place. The Chicken Cordon Blue – an unexpected surprise for a Latino restaurant – was moist on the inside and flavorful with an accompanying mushroom cream.

The traditional Latin dish, Pernil (roast pork shoulder) is so popular that Ramirez had to change her menu to include it in the daily specials on more days – now served on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. However, one regular patron said that the crispy skin that usually forms on traditional pernil wasn’t on the one at Sabor Paisa. However, this didn’t deter him from making his weekly visits from the courthouse.

According to Ramirez, the pernil “doesn’t even last half an hour.”

However, if you prefer something outside of the lunch hour, Sabor Paisa can also satisfy your cravings. They offer breakfast – omelets, pancakes, toast. They have finger foods like empanadas. And if you are around for dinner, entrees include roast beef, fried corvine fish, shrimp, and churrasco – a skirt steak platter typical of Latin American countries.

And despite thinner crowds in the evening and on weekends, their local delivery service spikes.

“I started here with my bare hands,” said Ramirez, boasting that she has a very diverse clientele of Latinos, Americans, Chinese, South Asians and Guyanese. “I’m very confident in the business I’ve built.”

Sabor Paisa

120-36 Queens Boulevard

Kew Gardens, NY 11415

Telephone: 718-261-0001

Credit Cards: Visa and MasterCard

Hours: Mondays to Fridays from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Saturdays 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sundays 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.