After driving past this Margate restaurant dozens of times these past several months, we finally made it into El Balcon de Las Americas restaurant for a lunch review and we were really impressed.
El Balcon de Las Americas restaurant is a ‘local’ chain of Columbian Restaurants and most are in free standing buildings. We think this location was maybe an old Denny’s or other family diner type of restaurant but we can’t say for sure. They have some outside tables but the traffic on State road 7 is just too loud, so we went inside.
The inside seems to be broken down into two areas. Directly ahead is a more casual spot with some large comfy chairs that look like a coffee house. Attached to that they have some items in a warming case for those on the go. They also had some nice looking bakery items too.
We were there for lunch so we were told we could sit anywhere we liked. We chose the main dining area to the left that has tables and booths. We passed by the one person band that was providing some live entertainment which was a nice touch.
The restaurant is sleek and clean while still looking comfortable and warm. Yellows and wood accents make you feel like settling in and enjoying some great food. Our server came over with the menus and asked us if we spoke Spanish. Unfortunately, we said no and she said no problem. Spanish isn’t necessary here and everyone we did come into contact with spoke English. We didn’t feel out of place and they made us feel very at home.
The menu is quite large with lots of options that are native to Columbia. If you don’t know them by name (we didn’t), the menu does a great job explaining each dish. We narrowed down our choice and placed our order by pointing at the menu.
We sipped our drinks and enjoyed the music while the place was filling up with customers. The food didn’t that that long and when it came out…WOW! These were huge portions! So much for our ‘light lunch’.
Jeff ordered the Chuleta Caleña – A native dish from southwest Colombia famously known as “Valle del Cauca.” Thinly pounded pork tenderloin lightly breaded and fried. Served with red
beans, sweet plantains, salad and white rice. This was the biggest piece of pork we’ve ever seen. Sure it was pounded thin, but this took up half the plate. The breading was crisp and not greasy and we both really liked it. The breading reminded me of the many breaded pork dishes I had as a kid. Top it with some of the sauces they offer and it knocked it out of the park. The red beans were really good too and we both enjoyed them more than the black beans you get at other places. There was a lot of liquid in the beans and we were not sure if you just eat the beans or both. With all this food, we fished out the beans and added them to our rice. The salad was fresh and dressed with almost a mustardy vinegarette and we both liked it. The plantains were also very good and not overcooked.
I ordered the Bandeja Paisa – Considered one of the best Colombian dishes! The paisa platter combines white rice, red beans, ground beef or top round steak, sweet plantains, fried chicharron (pork belly), arepa, avocado and a fried egg. What a plate full of food this was. It was hard to know where to start eating! I chose the steak, which was pounded very, very thin and very lean. The egg came into play when you cut the yolk open. It covered the steak, making a nice ‘sauce’ to go with it. The chicharron was probably the most ‘unhealthy’ item on the plate. It’s a large thick piece of pork belly that is fried. Ohhh….was it good though. The arepa needed to be soaked in the bean sauce to moisten up, I believe this version is made out of rice? I’m sure someone reading this can correct me.
There was no way we could finish all this food, but we did make a good sized dent. Just this one meal got us ‘hooked’ on El Balcon de Las Americas and we will be going back for sure. The service was spot on through our meal and the prices were actually very reasonable They do have a breakfast menu as well, so that means we have to give that a try soon.
Tip: Eat all the onions you want! They have a mouthwash dispenser in the restroom to freshen up after you meal. Oh, and the restroom was clean and modern.
El Balcon de Las Americas restaurant is located at 1441 North State Road 7, Margate, FL.