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A Peruvian Sandwich in Queens Comes Loaded With Juicy, Marinated Pork

Get a butifarra and a beer at Juanita’s Cafe in Jackson Heights, says critic Robert Sietsema

One can hardly imagine a more lavishly decorated or more comfortable sandwich shop.
One can hardly imagine a more lavishly decorated or more comfortable sandwich shop.

It is my intention to celebrate the sandwich this year by finding as many tasty examples as possible, with a special emphasis on fringe styles, but also presenting sandwiches that were considered more normal 30 years ago that now seem quaint. I will do this weekly and periodically present round-ups of the ones I consider best.

Lima, Peru has a vibrant sandwich culture that’s almost unknown here. Available from early in the morning till late in the evening, and often eaten for breakfast, these sandwiches are disbursed from shops called sangucherias and from strolling and stationery street vendors. They’re made on a white-flour roll called pan frances, whose ostensible origin is France; the roll is light and sometimes has a slash in the middle, with a light crumb that can absorb the sauces and gravies that garnish the sandwiches.

The compact menu offers eight sandwiches.
The compact menu offers eight sandwiches.

These sandwiches have been sporadically available in the city, most recently at Llamita in Greenwich Village, but the ante is being upped at Juanita’s Cafe on burgeoning Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, owned by the same people who run Peruvian rotisserie chicken chain Pio Pio.

The deep restaurant sports a wall mural featuring colorful Inca motifs, and a backyard with a fountain; it also doubles as a beer bar, and there’s no better combo on earth than a Peruvian sandwich washed down with draft suds.

Seven sandwiches are offered, the most famous one a butifarra ($10), named after a Spanish sausage. The roll, crinkly on top and ultra-absorbent, is stacked with what the menu calls “homemade roasted ham,” a fair translation of its Peruvian name. A pork shoulder gets braised in its marinade and then juicily loaded into the roll along with lettuce, which instantly wilts. A vinegary onion relish called salsa criolla comes on the side, as well as an incendiary hot sauce called aji, both of which should be liberally applied till the sandwich oozes and drips.

Grilled chicken, skin-on pork roast, soy-flavored flank steak strips, turkey, and roast beef are some of the other choices, along with a hamburger presented Peruvian style. French fries also exceptional; open 8 a.m. 8514 Northern Blvd, between 84th and 85th streets, Jackson Heights

A butifarra sandwich
No better butifarra!

Juanita's Cafe

8514 Northern Blvd, Jackson Heights, NY 11372

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