If New York City were populated by animals rather than people, a bunch of llamas would definitely live in Williamsburg. Have you ever seen a llama? They’re tall and gangly, often look like they have dumb haircuts, and have an extra letter in their name you suspect might be ironic. Sure, Lleonard, I’m sure that’s just what your parents named you.
So it seems like it would be fitting that right under the BQE on the northern side of Williamsburg, you’ll find a restaurant called Llama Inn.
Thing is, if we’re speaking in broad strokes stereotypes here, Llama Inn is more like the hot exchange student in a ’90s comedy: extremely beautiful and a little exotic considering the surroundings, but also really kind and charming. When Llama Inn walks into the room, heads turn.
The space is incredibly designed - there’s artwork made out of yarn covering one wall, multi-colored textile lampshades hanging from the ceiling, and plants dangling over the tops of the floor-to-ceiling windows surrounding the whole space. This isn’t Architectural Digest, but we’ll summarize: this place looks very cool.
The food is Peruvian, or at least Peruvian-inspired, and it’s all highly tasty. It’s a place to get adventurous if you want, with beef heart skewers and goat’s neck, but it’s also a people pleaser of a restaurant, with some roast chicken and ceviche ready and waiting. We actually ate our way through the menu with some friends who grew up in Peru, and while no one thought it was exactly an authentic taste of home, everyone agreed the food all tasted good. By the way, if you’re looking to take a trip to somewhere with amazing restaurants, go to Lima ASAP. In two days, we had four of the best meals we’ve ever had.
As for why and when you should take a trip to Llama Inn? The large amount of bar-style seating around the whole restaurant makes it extremely well-suited to a date or one-on-one dinner, and there are only a few bigger tables. That said, the large format items, which you definitely need more than two people to finish, are some of the best things on the menu. Either way, you can have a good meal here with one person or six.
However you choose to classify Llama Inn - date spot, location of your next birthday party, setting for your now-imagined fantasy zoo version of New York City - know that it’s a place you should strongly consider visiting.
A simple raw fish starter, topped with some fruit and poppy seeds. Like many other things here, it’s highly attractive.
Under those plantain chips, some fresh fish is sitting in a tangy mix of lime, habanero, red onion, and some other stuff. If there’s one item you order from the fish section, make it this.
Believe it or not, these are not ingredients for a smoothie. Actually, despite the fun-sounding ingredients, this is a pretty light, simple dish. It was our favorite of the vegetables, but it’s also not a must-order.
These skewers - pork belly, chicken thigh, beef heart, and head-on shrimp - can all be ordered individually, and we recommend getting several. The shrimp is a standout. If you haven’t eaten beef heart before, just know it’s best described as “squeaky.”
In Peru, this is known as lomo saltado, and it’s pretty close to being a national dish. It’s typically served with rice, but here it comes to the table with scallion pancakes as a build-it-yourself situation. We don’t need to tell you that making your own pancake tacos with stir fry beef, avocado, chiles, and FRENCH FRIES is something you will want to engage in.
The other large format dish, we liked this fairly simple and very large roast chicken board, which comes with a few different sauces and some big potatoes. We’d go with the beef first, but you won’t be mad about the chicken.