(NOW CLOSED DOWN)
This spacious corner restaurant with outdoor seating in Bushwick may be open until 4am, but they’ll need to increase their portion size if they’re keen to attract loyalty in their first month of business. The fluke ceviche ($12) was fantastically zesty and really had so much bite, but was about a third of the size it was expected to be, and sloppily served in a shallow steel bowl. The swordfish skewers ($10) were tasty, and not so tiny, but the crab causa was far too firm and just not mushy enough, even though the pulled crab meat was great and the purple hue of the potatoes authentic. Service is swift and helpful, though not overly warm and cheery, and decor and fittings are impressive, as are the seating options inside. Lorenzo’s kitchen definitely knows what it’s doing, but just needs to offer more of it on the plate.
Subway: Jefferson St. (L)
At the time of writing this place was only a few weeks young, so Delusionaryculinary hit it when it was HOT; staff were fresh and enthusiastic, and the food and drink on our visit were firmly in the A+ category. Cocktails were great, especially the Maracuya Sour, a smaller version of a favourite drink from my Lima days (five months of eating and drinking in the capital of Peru, fans) and the frutas de la selva, a mix of blackberries, raspberries, ginger ale, rum and pisco. Chilcanos were hearty and went down very easily too. We shared the Green Causa (a mash of Muña corn and avocado uchucuta in a leche de tigre sauce) and the Dry Andean Potato Stew with sheep’s cheese, onion and red shizu. For mains, the Hot Ceviche (sea bream) is spectacular, a heady mix of tiger’s milk, red peppers, and ambition; the rump of organic lamb with its side of queso fresco and black quinoa is so achingly London-hip that we were surprised it wasn’t served in a branded box with logos and downloadable links. Terrific!
Tube: Leicester Sq
Famous for serving anticuchos (skewered beef hearts), rachi (stomach lining), choncholí (intestines) as well as regular chicken breast, the Doña has a famous recipe to keep the lines long and the crowds coming. The secret is in the seasoning, an Afro-Peruvian garlic-pepper with ají panca. The portions are generous on flimsy plastic plates accompanied by soft potato sancochada and some cooked choclo(maize).
These traditionally undesirable internal organs and cuts were components of peasant and slave food, of course; local historians trace the anticuchos to the neighborhood surrounding the Acho bullring in Lima where animal organs were salvaged in a knacker’s yard like car parts. These streetside stalls are now famous stops on the gastro-tourist’s map, and even Anthony Bourdain made his way here a little while ago too.
Pay for your food opposite the large grill in the tiny cubby-office and give your ticket to the barbecue-queen; a couple of desserts are also available.
Other notable anticuchos spots:
Doña Pascuala: corner of calle Santa Rosa & Angamos, Surquillo.
Doña Delia: corner of calle Héctor Velarde & Juan Torciguera.
La tía Grimanesa: Junction of calles Enrique Palacios & 27 de Noviembre, Miraflores.
For exquisite tapas and larger meals with a fine selection of tipples, Sophie Bistro is an atmospheric wine bar with its roots firmly in Spain. The music and lighting is just right, with friendly personal service and a huge menu spanning all types of Creole and Spanish favourites. Classy local clientele and a formidable chef make this a place to drop into if you need an intimate date night in Miraflores. Clink clink.
Formerly the Doceava, the Onceava is famous for its Creole/Cajun seafood, huge portions and great terrace atmosphere; it’s a special-occasion place for many, and a regular Sunday spot for the lucky few. The pasta, fish and shellfish dishes are all great, and the cabrito (goat) is fantastic. Atún Chinachola, tuna steaks with Asian pan-fried vegetables in a soya reduction (S/.55) was a notable winner, and the Conchas Negras was a cold citrus feast of clams. Service is quick and friendly, cocktails are punchy and live music is often a weekend feature.
The smaller, cheaper version of the famous Bolivar does a fantastic Pisco Sour Catedral, made with the excellent Ocucaje for S/.20; the regular version is half the price. Bolitas de yuca (S/.10) were very plain and uninspiring, with an insipid Huancaina sauce.
But what will really hit you as you walk in is the well-established stench of sweat: we reckon it’s all down to the forlorn overworked waiters. No music, nor much real ambience, but clean and functional and located slap-bang on the beautiful Plaza San Martin.
He’s here for a few hours most weekdays, and locally famous for a reason: this really is excellent ceviche, spiky and tangy, and great value. The S/.5 plate is loaded with pulpo and fish, some chicharrones, red onions and a bit of yuka. The secret to the taste, however, is in the leche de tigre, a spicy citrus marinade that you’ll want to bottle and take home; luckily it’s also available in a cup with a few morsels of fish for S/.3 for those on the move.
An unmissable experience at excellent value.