NYC hidden dining gems: Bolivian Llama Party is a party on the tongue

Boasting one of the best restaurant names in New York, Bolivian Llama Party started as a popup in the Rockaways in the early 2010s, primarily specializing in Bolivian burgers.

From there, they moved on to Smorgasburg and, eventually, their own stall at Turnstyle Underground Market in Columbus Circle. The Turnstyle popup lasted until December 2020, when they pulled the plug due to a combination of factors related to the pandemic. Thankfully, that December 2020 shuttering wasn’t the end of Bolivian Llama Party.

They transformed their Sunnyside prep kitchen into their new home, which runs and operates today. While it is strictly a takeout eatery, there are a few small tables out front.

Nearly every cuisine on the planet has a dumpling of some sort. Italy has the ravioli, Japan has the gyoza and Poland has the pierogi. In Bolivia, it’s the salteña. Think of salteñas as a cross between empanadas and Taiwanese soup dumplings. They’re dough pockets with a braided seal and a soupy, stew-like filling. If I were the marketing director of the salteña, I’d brand them as handheld soup.

Saltenas at Bolivian Llama Party. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)
Saltenas at Bolivian Llama Party. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)

These aren’t the easiest things to eat on the go, though. That’s why Bolivian Llama Party provides printed instructions on “how to eat a salteña without spilling the juice.” They show a photo of a llama with the salteña in a position so that it’s with the corner point of the salteña, where the braid ties, facing up. They then show a llama taking a “chomp” from that very corner. Finally, they show the llama “slurping” the salteña.

These steps are crucial, and I speak from experience. I followed exactly as directed, yet I found my hands dripping. Instead of merely biting into the dough, suction your mouth around the dough as you bite and, similar to a soup dumpling, slurp so you don’t miss out on any of the juicy goodness. The whole ordeal is a learning experience, but at only $5.45 a pop, one that’s worth it.

A pork bowl at Bolivian Llama Party. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)
A pork bowl at Bolivian Llama Party. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)

Salteñas aside, there’s a whole lot more worth trying at Bolivian Llama Party. I was fully prepared to only eat salteñas, but when I saw the menu had so much more to offer, I went for it. I got the roasted pork bowl with rice and quinoa, the fried chicken sandwich with llajua sauce (a traditional Bolivian spicy, herbaceous sauce) and, as a last minute add-on, the sopa de mani, or peanut soup.

I’m a little adverse to “bowls” of any kind, which often seem like a cheap way of getting people to think your food is health-conscious. When the pork bowl came out, I dug my fork in for a proper bite, and the melt-in-your-mouth meat paired with toasted, nutty grains rectified my attitude toward bowls.

As a hot sauce aficionado, I heartily dumped the llajua onto each bite of the fried chicken sandwich. The chicken was crunchy yet juicy, and the sauce was vibrant, acidic and had just enough of a kick without being overpowering.

Peanut soup at Bolivian Llama Party. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)
Peanut soup at Bolivian Llama Party. (Kaitlyn Rosati for New York Daily News)

And just when I thought my grand idea of marketing salteñas as handheld soup was the best thing since sliced bread, I tried Bolivian Llama Party’s peanut soup. Don’t get me wrong, the salteñas at Bolivian Llama Party are certainly worth all the hype in the world. But this nutty, velvety, luscious peanut soup, topped with truffled potato sticks, could have drawn me in just as quickly had I known about it beforehand. Made with beef stock, this dairy-free yet creamy peanut soup had me slurping like no one was watching.

Whether slurping it from a bowl or a dumpling, Bolivian Llama Party will be one of my go-to spots for soup on the go.


  • Address: 44-14 48th Ave, Sunnyside, NY 11317
  • Phone: (347) 370-9102
  • Hours: Sunday-Friday 11 a.m.- 9 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
  • Prices: Salteñas $5.45; mac ‘n’ queso $5 to $15.50; crispy chicken $10.40 to $15.50; sandwiches $11 to $15; soups $5 to $13.50; plates $14 to $15; Bowls $14 to $16; papitas $5 to $26.50; Salteñas are also available for frozen bake-at-home purchase at $29.70 for half dozen
  • Takeout and delivery available; no reservations (no indoor seating)

Have a suggestion for a great hidden dining gem in your neighborhood? Reach out to Kaitlyn with your recommendations at [email protected].

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