North Plainfield, NJ 07060
- Cost: $
- Credit Cards: All Major
- Parking: Street, Metered
- Take Out: Yes
May 29, 2015
Try Tropicana BBQ in North Plainfield for hearty Colombian food.
Plainfield, NJ, where 90% of the foreign born population hails from Latin America, is an excellent Jersey locale to sample the specific cuisines of Central and South America. In and around downtown Plainfield, you can find Salvadoran, Ecuadoran and Mexican specialties familiar to first-generation immigrants. Tropicana BBQ on Somerset Street in North Plainfield is one of the stand outs, serving Colombian home cooking.
My daughter and I stopped by recently for takeout after her Sunday afternoon soccer game nearby. The narrow storefront with a handful of tables, a lunch counter and a takeout display case was packed with families eating in and ordering to go. Tropicana also sells some groceries, like the all-purpose local luncheonettes throughout Latin America. The clientele is mostly Spanish-speaking. Menus and servers are bilingual.
Freshly made chicharrones (pork rinds) moving straight from the huge kettle on the stovetop in the kitchen to the display case are impressively immense. You’re not a bacon connoisseur until you’ve tried one of these. Other Colombian snacks ready to go are thick cheese-filled arepas and various empanadas.
Tropicana’s menu includes large breakfast plates of eggs and typical sides, including Colombian (with beef), Mexican (with salsa), and Central American (with rice and beans) versions; hearty main dishes with beef, pork, chicken or fish; and Colombian specialties like Sobrebarriga en Salsa (flank steak and creole sauce), Bandeja Paisa (a hefty plate of steak, chicharrón, sausage, fried egg, avocado, plantains, rice, beans, and an arepa for good measure). Specials on the board included two sancochos (stews): de cola (oxtail) and gallina (hen).
We ordered a whole roasted chicken to go, with a large side of maduros (plantains) and rice. The food is good, portions are large, and prices are cheap.
Order a tropical fruit batido (shake) or Colombian soda to drink. If you have the acquired taste, or want to try something unique, order the exuberant Colombian dessert, Ensalada de Frutas con Queso, a fruit salad covered with shredded white cheese and sweet syrup.
For solid Latin American food like this, I need to visit Plainfield more often.