What initially attracted me to this Colombian bakery, which looks like all the rest, was a small home-printed sheet taped to the window saying "Tenemos Tamales Tolimenses." Usually when I have no idea what something is, my interest in trying it goes up, which was the case here. I grabbed one to go, noted the preparation instructions from the chef, and cooked it in a steamer at home for 30 minutes. They will also cook them here for you if you eat in house, but it is recommended to call ahead.
In Colombia, especially in mountainous Andean regions like Tolima, it is part of life to have a breakfast tamal like this and a cup of hot chocolate. While open throughout the afternoon, Pariscien is noticeably more busy in the morning hours, with a full breakfast menu spanning more than Colombian food. And as New York City is New York City, Colombians are joined by Ecuadorians, Dominicans, and Puerto Ricans of the neighborhood.
Anyone that orders the tamal (above, wrapped, and below sliced open after cooking), is rewarded with a creamy consistency and alternating sweet and savory tastes. You will sometimes find large pieces of potatoes and carrots in this style of tamal, but this chef has pureed everything with the corn. Elsewhere inside is on-the-bone chicken, not shown in the cross section.
The display cases seem to be the most active place in the morning, with arepas, pan de bono, buñuelos, and aborrajados, a deep fried plantain stuffed with cheese. If that typical breakfast eater mentioned above has a larger than usual appetite, they might take one of the other items in addition to their tamal and coffee. The simple arepas here are fantastic.
"One of each, please"
On our last two visits, we have shared the mini bandeja paisa ($8.95, below). "Mini" is definitely misleading, as even the small version of the plate is gigantic by the standards of most appetites. Centered around terrific Colombian white rice and beans is thinly cut steak, sausage, chicharrón, a fried egg, and a fried sweet plantain.
For a sweeter breakfast, try the arepa de choclo ($1.75 each, below), a sweet corn version of the arepa without cheese. This looks somewhat like a cookie, but is soft, moist, and dense.
If you make it here in the morning for a Colombian breakfast, plan some extra time to order the tamales tolimenses and hang out enjoying your food with the atmosphere. The coffee is light and won't wake you up, but the mood is thoroughly New York City and worth lingering around to consume.