Monday, July 5, 2010

I Love Paraguay

We had been planning to do our World Cup recaps in order, but lunch today was so delicious that we have to skip ahead to tell you all about it.

Since Paraguay's first game in the World Cup, M had been searching online to find a Paraguayan restaurant in NYC. We found a bakery/cafe in Sunnyside called I Love Py, another place in Brooklyn that appears to have closed down ... and that's it. We decided to take advantage of the extra day off for Independence Day to head out to Sunnyside to visit I Love Py. We were hoping it would be open and we were in luck!

When we got there, the cafe was about half-full of small groups indulging in Paraguayan dishes and watching the news about the World Cup. (It was amusing when they started talking about the Paraguayan team; the place went silent as everyone watched the news.) We looked through the menu and zeroed in on the section for Paraguayan specialties. After that, the difficult part was just figuring out what to choose!

The one thing we knew we were going to get was chipa guazu, a Paraguayan corn pie filled with fresh corn, onions, eggs and some other stuff. It was recommended to M on Twitter by someone in Paraguay during her Paraguayan restaurant search, and we had to try it. Although we tried many good things during lunch, this was probably our favorite thing.

The chipa guazu was light and fluffy. You could see (and taste) the corn kernels, as well as the onions and eggs. It was similar to a light quiche with a bit of creaminess to it. Delicious.

Since the restaurant advertises their empanadas in the window, we also tried a few of those (carne, pollo y queso) and one of the croquetas de carne.

Of these, the chicken was probably our favorite, followed closely behind by the ground beef. Both came with well-seasoned meat and a hard boiled egg inside. The cheese was nice and gooey but we definitely preferred the meat empanadas. The croquette was soft and tasty, with meat very similar to the ground beef empanada.

The last thing we got was also on the Paraguayan specialty menu, something called mbeyu. We had never heard of this before and looked it up online from the cafe. According to websites, it's a traditional "starch cake" that might be made with cassava (farina) or manioc flour. We didn't realize how heavy it would be, and decided to try it.

This was probably our least favorite but it wasn't bad. We had started out with the most seasoned foods (the chipa guazu and chicken empanada) so maybe we would have felt differently if we started with the mbeyu. We thought it might be good on the side of soup, but since the temperatures were in the high 90s ... soup was not part of the plan for lunch.

We didn't try any of the drinks (they have lots of juices), but it seemed like everyone else there was drinking two-liter bottles of Guarana Brazilia. Maybe we should try that next time.

Not only was all of the food great, but it was really affordable. Everything we got, including tax and tip, came out under $20! It felt like such a steal.

If you're looking to try Paraguayan food, we highly recommend going to I Love Py. Not just because it's the only Paraguayan place we could find in the city, but because it's good. Definitely try the chipa guazu and some of the empanadas. We plan to go back for more of those!

I Love Py is located at 43-16 Greenpoint Avenue in Sunnyside, Queens. It's a short walk from the 46 St stop on the 7 train.

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