Venezuelan Food. If You Think It's Boring, You Haven't Tried King Patacon

Venezuelan Food. If You Think It's Boring, You Haven't Tried King Patacon

The king patacon is bounded by woven, twice-fried plantains.

I've got to admit I was late to the table in the appreciation of Venezuelan food. Compared with other South American cuisines -- fiery-hot Peruvian, beany and fishy Ecuadorian, African-leaning Brazilian, and feral steak Argentine with its Italian notes -- Venezuelan seemed too, uhhhhhh, comfort-foody, too much like the food I was raised on in the American Midwest.

Venezuelan Food. If You Think It's Boring, You Haven't Tried King Patacon

The bill of fare of King Patacon is depicted on the window. (Click on image to read the menu.)

What I was served were basically tea sandwiches made with split arepas standing in for white bread. The stuffings were often mayo-driven, featuring chicken salad, shredded beef, cheese, chorizo, and other ingredients already familiar from the pan-Latin diet, much of which is descended from Spanish cuisine.

Then I stumbled on King Patacon in Corona, Queens. The café's slogan is "Eat Like Royalty." The window was emblazoned with color snapshots of a broader range of Venezuelan antojitos than I'd been familiar with. The front of the house is run by the Dominican proprietor, whose Venezuelan wife cooks in a very orderly kitchen in back, visible from the informal caf&eaacute;, which includes a handful of tables and counter seating that looks out onto an ancient frame pool hall.

From a lush range of choices, I picked the café's namesake, the so-called king patacon. The patacon is a sandwich made with tostones (twice-fried plantains) instead of bread, but the king patacon turns a regular patacon into a monster feed.

Venezuelan Food. If You Think It's Boring, You Haven't Tried King Patacon

It was raining the day I had my first king patacon at King Patacon.

 

Venezuelan Food. If You Think It's Boring, You Haven't Tried King Patacon

A sideways look at a king patacon

The king patacon at King Patacon is made with a gorgeous lattice of woody plantains, top and bottom, delivering a profound crunch. Inside is a trio of pulled meats -- pork, beef, and chicken, with high-quality lettuce and tomato, shreds of yellow rubbery cheese, and an orange dressing that drips all over everything. Plowing your way through one is a messy but delicious pleasure, with sound effects.

The patacon is associated with Maracaibo, a city in northwestern Venezuela just south of the Caribbean on a waterway that connects the Bay of Maracaibo with Lake Maracaibo. It is a center of the country's oil industry, a port historically famous for its sailors and pirates, and the capital of Afro-Venezuelan culture, which the sandwich represents culinarily.

Eat king patacon for lunch and you can skip dinner. The price: $8.50.

King Patacon 42-19 102nd Street Corona, Queens 347-242 2430

Follow us on Twitter if you dare: @ForkintheRoadVV @chantytown [Chantal Martineau] @ldshockey [Lauren Shockey] @robertsietsema [Robert Sietsema]


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