Anaconda’s Timeless, Worldly Appeal

 Jose Reyes Jr. showcases Anaconda Latin Bistro’s guacamole – served in a stone, pig-shaped dish – in the redesigned dining room Saturday.

Jose Reyes Jr. showcases Anaconda Latin Bistro’s guacamole – served in a stone, pig-shaped dish – in the redesigned dining room Saturday.

Anaconda Latin Fusion Bistro is, in some ways, a crystallization of Huntington Station’s past, present and future all at once.

Anaconda is located in the former home of the legendary J&J’s Southside Restaurant, a Huntington Station institution for family-friendly Italian dining. Manager Jose Reyes Jr. proudly points to a circa 1939 black-and-white photo at the famous J&J’s bar, which remains in place as it was all those years ago. Pictured in that historic photograph are the Rosado family, who came back recently and “loved the place,” Jose Jr. said, nostalgia washing over them. That’s a clear connection to the past.

Anaconda serves an array of Latin-fusion cuisine inspired by all corners of Central and South America. The Reyes family understands that Huntington Station is at a crossroads and aims to be a positive part of its future revitalization.

“We want to show all communities, all countries the different types of food, infusing all these tastes together,” Reyes Jr. said.

During a recent visit, we got a first-hand look at just how they do that, and trust us–they do it well.

Guacamole ($10), served in a carved stone bowl shaped like a pig, is made for shoveling in by the chip full, and those are conveniently already stuffed into the smooth avocado blend, accented with onions and tomatoes. Salvadoran pupusas ($7.50), prepared with precision, highlight a classic.

Traditional steak tacos ($10) are a savory staple, wrapped in a pair of soft corn shell and topped with onion and chimchurri. Flautas ($12) add a light, delicate crunch to the affair, while keeping pulled chicken inside moist, tender and flavorful. Bountiful chicken chimichangas ($12) wrapped and topped in chesses, are rib-sticking good, and the kitchen takes particular pride in sizzling fajita platters ($14 chicken; $16 steak; $17 shrimp, $18 mix).

 Traditional steak tacos are a satisfying selection.

Traditional steak tacos are a satisfying selection.

Among the staples, seafood ceviche ($15) is a standout – tender shrimp and calamari, full of citrus flavor, but not harsh. One customer said it’s the best she’s had since she came from Belize, Reyes Jr. said. Flan ($4) shares a similarly fanatical devotion, he added. Then, there’s the Peruvian chicken ($10 for a quarter chicken; $15 for half, $30 for full) – fall-off-the-bone tender and exploding with flavor thanks to a lengthy marinade and an hour and a half on the charcoal-fired rotisserie. The delightful aroma wafts up to your nose from a few feet away; little wonder why people will line up for the stuff.

 For many, the moment when the coal-fired rotisserie finishes cooking their signature Peruvian chicken is a highlight.

For many, the moment when the coal-fired rotisserie finishes cooking their signature Peruvian chicken is a highlight.

Favorable feedback like that “gives us hope,” Reyes Jr. said.

“It gives us hope. It’s been a struggle, starting from the bottom basically from scratch, trying to build our way up, trying to compete with restaurants in the village,” he explained. “We want to get that kind of level.”