In the Amazonian rainforests of Pucallpa, Peru, Jimmy Lozano and his cousins once ran a "Warique" -- Quechua for a hidden, informal restaurant -- from their home. His grandmother taught them many of the family's time-honored staples, many of which involved barbecuing, which was popular in their region. In search of better job prospects in the food industry, Jimmy made the decision to move to America in 1994 and happened upon Jackson Heights, Queens, where fellow South Americans lived.
In 2004, while working for a Kosher catering company in Brooklyn, he met his future wife, Maria Rodriguez, a native of the coffee lands of Manizales, Colombia. On a honeymoon trip to Peru, Jimmy exposed her to his home country's culinary diversity, often influenced by many other cultures that immigrated there. It opened them to the idea of opening a restaurant together 7 years later.
Warique Restaurtant first opened its doors on the Upper West Side in 2011 to rave reviews, moved to Astoria a few years later and relaunched in Jackson Heights in 2019. The special feature dish on the menu from Jimmy's family, Arroz Chaufa de Cecina, has become the restaurant's claim to fame. It combines smoking of thin pork strips with the Chaufa (Chinese-influence) style of fried rice wok stir-frying. Topping it with Jimmy's zesty Peruvian Aji Verde green sauce adds a kick to the dish's smoky character, and pairs perfectly with a purple corn Chica Morada drink.