May 24, 2019 By Meghan Sackman
A restaurant focused on high-end Mexican cuisine opened on 30 Avenue in Astoria last month.
Hoja Santa, located at 40-17 30 Ave., offers elevated versions of traditional Mexican fare, and focuses on artistic presentation of the dishes as well.
The 1,500 square foot locale, which officially opened on April 20, is owned by 22-year-old Forest Hills resident Carolina Parroquin and managed by her father, Mauricio Parroquin.
The restaurant’s name Hoja Santa, which means “sacred leaf” in Spanish, is an aromatic Mexican pepper leaf that is heart shaped and traditionally used to make tamales, a traditional Mexican dish.
The family said it aims to bring traditional Mexican flavors to Astoria in the most sophisticated form. The interior decor has a modern Mexican feel.
“There are restaurants in Manhattan with different interpretations of Mexican food but there was a gap that needed to be filled in Astoria,” Mauricio said.
“Usually people think Mexican food has to be spicy or greasy,” said Mauricio. “We select the best parts of traditional Mexican flavors and make little changes to make flavor softer and refine the ingredients.”
Unique dishes the locale offers include: Pastel Azteca, a dish consisting of layers of corn tortillas, seafood such as shrimp, calamari, and octopus, melted cheese, and green poblano sauce, made from poblano peppers. Another specialty dish is Carnitas de Pato, which consists of tacos that contain shredded duck, roasted with flavors of cinnamon and orange.
The restaurant’s chipotle scallop dish is also popular, featuring sea scallops sautéed in olive oil and onions with a rich and smoky chipotle pepper sauce.
Mauricio said that he has applied for a full liquor license and is waiting on the State Liquor Authority to sign off on it. In the interim, he is offering a few specialty non-alcoholic beverages.
Drinks of this variety include different flavors of Agua Fresca, a drink that is made by blending water and fruits with lime juice and sugar; as well as Horchata, a cold traditional Mexican drink that is made by soaking rice overnight and combining the rice milk with water, condensed milk, cinnamon, and vanilla.
Owner Carolina Parroquin, a recent graduate from Baruch Business School, says she knows a lot about the restaurant industry since her father owned eateries while she grew up.
Carolina’s father was the previous owner of the now closed Fiesta Mexicana on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights and Taco Fiesta on Queens Boulevard in Corona.
“Although I am young, I am very familiar with the business being that I grew up in my father’s restaurants,” Carolina said. “I feel well prepared to run this restaurant with my background in business entrepreneurship and management with the help of my team.”
The restaurant is open Sunday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.