Some of my favorite places in New York City embrace an almost exuberant level of clutter. For example, my favorite watering hole in Manhattan, Kettle of Fish, has decades worth of tattered Green Bay Packers memorabilia strewn across every inch of the bar. El Basurero on Steinway in Astoria, whose very name suggests the decorative hodgepodge you will find within, takes its usual clutter to a whole new level during the World Cup.
My girlfriend suggested Basurero for June’s New Nosh Night both for the crazy fact that I had never eaten there, and that it is a local (and even borough and citywide) destination spot right now during our collective, contemporaneous soccer frenzy. The popular Colombian restaurant did not disappoint with its World Cup decor, including jerseys representing many of the teams, soccer balls dangling from the ceiling, and best of all, kinda creepy mannequins dressed up as footballers.
Nor did the food or drink disappoint in the slightest. The first thing we noticed was that half of Basurero was consuming an engineering marvel of a drink, a Corona draining slowly into a frosty libation. There was no question we were going for that too. Turns out it was a Bulldog Margarita, and considering it was the size and strength of two (or more) drinks, I had no problem with the $13.50 price tag.
As for food, we went for Basurero’s Combinacion platter. At a mere $13.95 (just a few cents more than our drinks!) this heaping meat pile was delicious. Highlights included the Black Sausage, which is Colombian Blood Sausage prepared in the Morcilla style, mixed with rice, a generous portion of Chicharrónes or hunks of fried pork skin, salty disks of chorizo, guacamole (those of you who know my aversion to the green stuff know I didn’t eat this) and tender cubes of Muslitos de pollo (chicken thigh). If all this sounds overwhelming, it was served alongside a brilliant Salsa de Aji Picante that, while not especially spicy, cut through all of the fatty meats with refreshing, sharp vinegar taste. We also tried, and absolutely loved the plump, sweet platanos maduros.
While El Basureo feels like a must visit spot during the World Cup, I’d recommend going basically anytime for the sports, for the food, and most especially for the cluttered, chaotic, and wonderfully joyous vibe of the place.
El Basurero – 32-17 Steinway St, Astoria (cross street is Broadway)