Our favorite way to enjoy a meal at Jackson Heights' Warique is to do so in feast-form. Bring at least one other person and share an array of Peruvian classics like rich anticuchos and forkfuls of lomo saltado. Even if you’re not in the position to spend a bunch of money on a meal out, it’s possible to achieve this dynamic dinner feeling by ordering just two dishes (the majority of which cost between $10 and $20).
A good rule of thumb at Warique is to act like you’re an oscillating fan - rotate between dishes loaded with tomatoes, onions, and aji verde sauce. One moment you’ll be taking cakey-steamed bites of tamal criollo, and the next you’ll be digging into a dizzyingly acidic cocktail glass of leche de tigre ceviche.
That’s not to say you couldn’t enjoy a meal by yourself here. Come alone, munch on a cup of complimentary dried and salted maiz chulpe, and observe the relatively quiet dining room of people sipping cans of ultra-sweet Golden Inca Kola. Opting for solo dining just means you’ll probably have to choose just one of their excellent dishes, and commit to salty over sour, meat or fish, or hot over cold. Instead, enjoy all of these excellent contrasting flavors, textures, and temperatures with a friend all at once.
Warique is in good company with other surrounding great Jackson Heights Latin restaurants. In roughly 300 acres, you can eat thick fluffy arepas at Arepa Lady, piles of steak and sweatbreads at El Chivito D’Oro, and a bandeja breakfast platter from Seba Seba.
But if you’re looking for an exciting sit-down experience at a Peruvian restaurant, Warique on 37th Avenue is the place in the neighborhood to go.
Warique doesn’t skewer their anticuchos - which is how you may have had this Peruvian staple elsewhere. Instead, veal hearts are sliced into Moleskine-diary-sized hunks, and served on a sizzling skillet alongside lightly-fried potato wedges and a handful of soft-chewy corn kernels. The meat’s simple seasoning (which tastes like smoky chiles, garlic, and salt) lets the natural richness of the veal heart do all the talking.
If you’re feeling sleepy or sluggish before your meal, the spanking acidity of this leche de tigre ceviche will successfully jolt your senses to a place typically reserved for the Energizer Bunny. Each spoonful is thick and sopping with fish stock, lime juice, cilantro, and mashed hunks of white fish. There’s so much lime juice in this cocktail glass that, if you blindfold yourself, you may come to the conclusion that you’ve transcended into some sort of citrus fruit community. When your mouth needs a break, return to the maiz chulpe and lomo saltado on the table.
Our only prescriptive ordering demand for you while at Warique is to get this pile of sauteed beef over rice and french fries in front of your face. Its tomato-onion-soy-based sauce partially softens the mountain of thick-cut fries. Crispy potatoes provide crunch, firm almost-raw onions give off a little sweetness, and the tender beef melts like an edible Dali clock. For extra brightness, top everything with the aji verde sauce in the squeeze bottle at your table.
A starchy-dense corn tamale that’s deep orange in color and steamed in a banana leaf until it’s cakey and moist. This one is stuffed with olives and a ton of pulled chicken, which makes it briny and satisfying. Just be careful as you fork around - you might find a lurking pit in one of the olives.
Cups of these dried, salted corn kernels sit on every table (inside and out). If you feel the impulse to eat the whole helping like you do with movie theater popcorn, we deeply understand. Good news: the staff will gladly give you more once you finish.