Manhattan has no shortage of Peruvian or Mexican spots, but for those seeking the meat and potato-rich cuisine of landlocked Bolivia, the only real option remains Bolivian Llama Party, an underground kiosk near Columbus Circle. It’s a heck of a good option to have.
The chief offering at BLP, as it’s often called, is the salteña, a soup-filled empanada that requires the user to slurp and suck before feasting on the meaty dregs. But more recently, owners Alex, Patrick, and David Oropeza — whose parents are from Cochacamba — debuted another dish of note: the chicha verde, a beer-marinated and oven-roasted chicken sandwich ($10). I’ve had quite a bit to say about these types of sandwiches lately — at Fuku, Superiority Burger, Shake Shack, and elsewhere — and I’m happy to report that the BLP sando ranks as one of the better entrants in this competitive category.
First, to allay any concerns: This is a dark meat sandwich. As it should be.
The Oropeza brothers marinate the fatty thighs in a marinade of Paceña beer (a brew from La Paz) before oven roasting them and slathering them with quilquina sauce, a salsa redolent with cilantro, chiles, and garlic. On top of that goes bacon, watery tomatoes, lettuce, and chicken cracklins. This is all placed on a white bun.
Performative food people take note: This isn’t really a ‘gram-worthy chicken sandwich; it’s not an architectural marvel with deeply contrasting colors. Lettuce notwithstanding, it’s a study various shades of tan, and it looks about as pretty as anything coming out of a local diner.
But if the visuals are a touch muddled (really who cares), the flavors are crystal clear. The juicy thigh meat practically vibrates with salt, while the creamy sauce shocks the palate with cilantro, chile, and garlic. Let me repeat: This sandwich packs a ton of garlic.
I’m not typically a fan of watery, out-of-season tomatoes, but here their presence is justified by softening the sodium sting. Both the bacon and chicken cracklins, in turn, add crunch and a touch of salty-sweetness.
Pair this all with a cherimoya juice, a South American fruit know for its notes of pineapple and coconut, and there’s your new Midtown lunch. I’m calling Bolivian Llama Party’s chicken sandwich a BUY.
Buy, Sell, Hold is a column from Eater New York’s chief critic Ryan Sutton where he looks at a single dish or item and decides whether you should you buy it, sell it (or just don’t try it at all), or hold (give it some time before trying).