Editor’s Picks

5 Peruvian Restaurants You Should Try

There’s more to Peruvian food than ceviche.

By Katharine Shilcutt June 2, 2014 Published in the June 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Bistec a lo pobre could double as a brunch dish.

Andes Cafe

Peruvian, South American
Chef David Guerrero may be from Ecuador, but it’s Peruvian food that’s his passion—a fact that’s amply displayed at his charming East End restaurant, Andes Cafe. Here, Guerrero draws raves for his composed ceviches (including a few with Ecuadorian ingredients like fresh black clams) as well as sturdier fare that spans the South American continent: Chifa-style fried rice from Peru, skirt steak with chimichurri sauce from Argentina, and breakfast dishes from Venezuela, Colombia, and Chile.

Latin Bites

Young Peruvian chef Roberto Castre captured the city’s attention with his seven-table Latin Bites Cafe in the Warehouse District, which he quickly outgrew. His Tanglewood location has a large, chic dining room—the perfect setting to snack on his tiraditos (the Peruvian version of carpaccio), empanadas, and anticuchos (grilled veal hearts), try a cocktail made with Pisco (the brandy that’s the national spirit of Peru), and, at brunch, sample the dazzling Peruvian crepes. If you feel like going all out, get the six-course chef’s tasting menu.

Lemon Tree

This cozy neighborhood spot can be hard to find, but that’s part of its off-the-beaten-path appeal. In keeping with the casual vibe, we like the equally casual dishes of salchipapas (hot dogs and fried potatoes), chicharron de pollo (fried chicken), and the addictive bolitas de yuca rellenas: cheese-stuffed yucca with a creamy, spicy, saffron-hued huancaína sauce that will make you swear off mozzarella sticks for life.

Peru Café Express

True to its name, Peru Café Express specializes in getting your food out fast. Most people call ahead and take their ceviches and jaleas (fried seafood platters filled with shrimp, crawfish, squid, octopus, and more) to go. That’s the best idea, as seating is limited to only a few counter seats near the door. Make sure to order a chicha morada with your meal—it’s the best iteration of the tartly sweet, bright purple Peruvian drink in town.

Pollo Bravo

Pollo Bravo gets constant praise for its rotisserie chicken, as it should, but many diners overlook the other Peruvian specialties on the menu: causa rellena, a delicate stack of mashed potatoes and chicken; lomo saltado, sirloin steak in a savory soy sauce marinade; and dreamy lúcuma ice cream, made with a native Peruvian fruit that tastes like caramel custard.

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