Visit Cambridge for arroz con pato, Chelsea for grilled Amazonian fish and Charlestown for Chinese-Peruvian fusion.
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Welcome to Three to try. On Thursdays we share three restaurant or meal recommendations for the weekend – some new, some old, always delicious.
The Boston area has quite a variety of excellent Peruvian restaurants, offering everything from slightly sour ceviche to pollo a la brasa (fried chicken) to lomo saltado (a fried beef dish).
I’ve been eating a lot of Peruvian food lately – I’d eat ceviche with every meal if I could – so I wanted to share a trio of latest hits for the three of them to try this week. Each of these branches opened during or just before the pandemic. So if you’ve noticed them, now is a good time to get to know them.
In February 2022, the team behind diminutive Somerville stunner Celeste opened a larger restaurant in Cambridge’s Huron Village, La Royal. About three times larger than its more intimate older brother, La Royal is a beautiful space that retains many of the original features of the building, which dates back to the early 1900s and was once occupied by a printing works.
More space means a wider menu: while Celeste dials into the home cooking of Lima chef and co-owner Juan Ma Calderón’s family, at La Royal he explores various regional cuisines, such as arroz con pato – rice with duck – from Chiclayo in the north or Patarashca , a whole grilled fish dish from the Amazon. Both restaurants serve ceviche, but La Royal has a Nordic style, slightly simpler in presentation and packed with lots of lime juice.
My favorites so far: the scallop and blue cod ceviche (of course) peppered with toasted choclo, the giant corn kernels common in Peruvian cuisine. The savory but sweet Pastel de Choclo, a browned round of corn polenta stuffed with cheese, aji, and ground beef. And the aforementioned arroz con pato, which features seared duck breast on coriander rice and garnished with salsa criolla (onion and tomato salad). I also love La Royal’s cocktail selection: try the Maracuya Sour – essentially a passion fruit pisco sour – optional spicy (make it spicy), as well as the Matacuy Tonic, the best way to sample the complex and herbal Andean digestif Matacuy .
221 Concord Ave., Cambridge, (617) 823-1595, laroyalcambridge.com.
Unfortunately for Tambo 22, opening day was March 2020. It was actually the last restaurant I had dinner at before it all closed. (I got over that bittersweet memory — great food overshadowed by a sense of impending doom — with another visit a few weeks ago, a beautiful late summer evening on the colorful terrace.) Tambo 22 is from chef Jose Duarte, who is behind the North Final favorites were Taranta, which closed in 2020 after serving “Italian food with a Peruvian twist” for two decades.
Despite the difficult timing of its opening, Tambo 22 really feels like it’s thriving now. Duarte and his team particularly shine when it comes to seafood dishes, whether it’s the tender and mild Amazonian paiche wrapped in banana leaves or the trout grilled in saffron butter, an old Taranta favorite. Aside from the seafood, the wantan frito – crispy fried wontons stuffed with pork belly and served with tamarind sweet and sour sauce – was a big hit at my table the last time I visited.
Also worth noting: the beer menu includes some Peruvian goodies, like Barbarian Magic Quinoa, a quinoa pilsner from Lima.
22 Adams St., Chelsea, (617) 466-9422, tambo22chelsea.com.
Peruvian flavored restaurant
Lately it seems like every time I post a photo of Peruvian food someone is telling me I need to try this cozy little corner of a place tucked away on a side street near Sullivan Station . Well, you were all right; thank you for the recommendation. (And please keep it up! You can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org if there’s something that should be on my radar.)
Open since late 2020, the Peruvian Taste Restaurant is open all day every day, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu has a particularly large chifa section – Peruvian-Chinese fusion cuisine – so I ordered from there and chose the chancho con piña, a delicious char siu pork stir fry with pineapple and snow peas in sweet tamarind sauce. On my list for next time: Sopa Wantan Especial, wantan soup with chicken, quail eggs, noodles, char siu pork and shrimp – doesn’t that sound perfect for a winter’s day?
Don’t miss out on the ceviche though, an excellent rendition with some heat to spice things up. And there is so much more! Some popular Peruvian dishes like Lomo Saltado and Aji de Gallina; a large selection of desserts; the breakfast menu with options like bread, pork, and sweet potatoes with salsa criolla… this is a busy place for a small restaurant. Can’t wait to go back and try more.
78 Arlington Ave., Charlestown, (617) 242-5100, peruvian-taste-restaurant.com.