"My father was praying for an opportunity to open this restaurant," said Maldonado, the manager of Tango and More Steakhouse at 66-35 Grand Avenue in Maspeth.
The family's prayers may have paid off. Only three months after opening its doors, the Argentinean eatery already has a customer base with plenty of regulars.
While Maldonado was being interviewed for this piece, one such regular stopped by for a snack of carrot soup in between packing for a trip. She had already been in for breakfast, chatting with Maldonado for nearly an hour.
Maldonado said her family decided to open the restaurant in Maspeth, as opposed to another Queens neighborhood with a larger Latino population, such as Jackson Heights, because they found a space that suited their needs at an affordable price. In addition, she said, the family took note of a growing Argentinean population in Western Queens.
"A lot of people comment that it feels like home," said Maldonado. "It's a family restaurant." Clearly customers can rely on Tango for genuinely friendly service, but Maldonado is certain the food is what keeps them coming back.
"I'm 100% confident in this restaurant. The first time they order something, I know they're going to like it," said Maldonado.
She highly recommended the skirt steak, one of Tango's most popular entrees. Another favorite, the mixed grill, is a meat lovers' delight consisting of steak, chicken, sausage, and short ribs.
As one of only two Latino restaurants in the area, Maldonado said she is thrilled to introduce unfamiliar cuisine to the traditionally Italian-German-Polish neighborhood, but she said the menu wouldn't be considered bizarre by any means. Maldonado pointed out that over half of Argentina's population has some Italian ancestry. Pasta and steak are staples of Argentine diets and on Tango's menu.
"Here they are not afraid to try new things, but almost everybody likes steaks," she said.
Maldonado said her father's dream is to open another restaurant in the future. Meanwhile, interest surrounding the current one continues to build as visitors get a taste of Argentinean culture, and Latinos from the community return for traditional meals that remind them of home.
"Some people once asked us to bring tango shows on the weekends. Maybe in the future, who knows?" said Maldonado. (Holly Tsang)