Exploring the best dishes from Peru is a delicious crash course in Latin food history. For starters, common kitchen staples like tomatoes, potatoes, and quinoa all have Peruvian roots. The Moche people of northern Peru were the pioneers of ceviche, the country’s national dish, nearly 2000 years before it evolved after waves of Japanese immigration. And then there’s chifa, an entire branch of Peruvian food born from the country’s Chinese community, which can be described as a South American twist on some of our favorite Chinese dishes.
Home to one of America’s largest Peruvian communities, LA has plenty of options for sampling Peru’s cured seafood, grilled meats, criollo dishes, and amazing fried rice. Regardless of what part of town you’re in, Peruvian food can be found all over the city and in all styles, from fast-casual spots to sceney West Hollywood places. But these are the 11 best Peruvian restaurants to try right now.
If watching an army of rotisserie chickens turn in perfect unison sounds like a great place for a meal, rather than a scene out of Chicken Run, then check out Pollo A La Brasa. This Koreatown spot is an impressively large operation that always churns out juicy and well-seasoned poultry. They stay true to their Peruvian roots by smoking the birds in a wood oven, seasoning with salt, and letting the skin develop a distinctly charred exterior. With a quarter bird coming in at $8.22 (including sides), this is a fast, easy, and delicious option for the next time you can’t be bothered to step foot in your kitchen and would rather feast on some excellent chicken. The bird comes with thick-cut fries, warm rice, beans, and spicy green ají salsa to drench it all in. But if you’re feeling beef instead, Pollo A La Brasa also grills great anticuchos (beef heart skewers) that are tender, never chewy, and go great with that spicy ají sauce.
Mario’s Peruvian and Seafood is a Hollywood spot that specializes in, you guessed it, delicious seafood. Their ceviche mixto is a heaping mix of white fish, shrimp, and squid that gets lightly cured in fresh lemon juice. As per tradition, this all comes with boiled potatoes, steamed corn, and fresh red onion, making it a perfect size for sharing. Mario’s also has a fantastic chicharron de calamares (crispy fried squid) that comes with tartar sauce and pickled red onion salsa. It’s served hot and fresh from the fryer and goes great with either a fresh spritz of lemon or their ají salsa. Expect to see people hoarding to-go cups of this green sauce in their bags because it’s seriously delicious, spicy, and tart from the chili’s sharp citrus flavor.
Sandwiched between two pawn shops on Van Nuys Blvd., Puro Sabor is a brightly colored restaurant that serves a particularly delicious lomo saltado, which ranks pretty high on our list of best ways to enjoy meat and potatoes - preferably at the same time. This chifa dish is a rib-eye steak stir fry with big chunks of beef, tomatoes, grilled onions, french fries, and a large sprinkling of green onions on top. Big splashes of soy sauce and vinegar tenderize the beef strips, releasing their natural drippings to create a light sauce that coats the fries. In other words, this meat and starch masterpiece is addictively salty and nearly impossible to stop eating once you start. If you want something sweet to balance out all the savory, try some sticky picarones - crispy fried donuts made from pumpkin and sweet potato. They get drenched (and we mean drenched) in a runny homemade syrup, which somehow makes them both decadent and deceivingly light at the same time.
Rosaline is one of those dimly lit and sceney restaurants where you might take a blind date or bump into a B-list reality TV star from a show you pretend not to watch. But this beautiful West Hollywood restaurant also has a ceviche station, lots of plants, and a cocktail bar that serves great pisco sours. The menu includes updated takes on Peruvian staples, like tender anticuchos that are plated with a creamy walnut, feta, and rocoto pepper sauce on top. The larger plates are intended to be shared family-style and include chaufa paella, which falls somewhere between the Spanish dish and Chinese fried rice. The arroz chaufa is nicely moist on the surface with a beautiful crust on the bottom for some added texture, and includes a diverse combo of Chinese la chang sausage, pancetta, prawns, and a fishy Filipino condiment called bagoong.
If you’re zigzagging through Melrose traffic in your Toyota Camry (hypothetically), chances are you might miss Inti Peruvian. But this strip mall spot makes some wonderful ceviche and noodle dishes that deserve your roadside attention. This Hollywood restaurant’s ceviche mixto comes with a generous amount of fish, calamari, octopus, and shrimp, all of which get cured in a sharp leche de tigre (a mixture of lemon juice and assorted spices). The marinade is good enough to drink on its own, which is why it’s encouraged to mop every bit up with some starchy potatoes. Inti also serves a delicious tallarin de mariscos, which is the Peruvian name for linguine and seafood stir fry. It’s definitely not pasta (although it technically is pasta), but it’s also certainly not Asian-style noodles either. Instead, you get something that’s distinctively Peruvian: a little Italian, a little Chinese, some soy sauce, some fresh tomatoes, grilled onions, and tons of seafood. It’s salty, oily, and something we unashamedly crave in the wee hours of the night.
El Pollo Inka
El Pollo Inka is a fast-casual Peruvian spot with a few locations scattered around the South Bay. As you might’ve picked up from the name, this place serves chicken, and it’s great chicken too. The birds here are beautifully marinated in herbs, spices, and lots of citrus that clings to the chicken skin for dear life. Although not included in the name, El Pollo Inka also specializes in criollo food, which are dishes with mixed Spanish, African, and Indigenous influences. Like the creamy and spicy ají de gallina, which is tender chicken served in a yellow curry with olives and hard-boiled egg on top, and a side of white rice to mop up all of the extra sauce. The yellow ají gives the sauce its mild heat and acidity before it’s cut with some creaminess and blended walnuts.
Ceviche and french baguettes are two things rarely found under the same roof, but such a magical place does exist in Culver City. Whether you unknowingly stop by for Peruvian food and walk out with sourdough or vice versa, you’ll hopefully leave Lonzo’s pleasantly surprised. For starters, order some beautiful honey bay oysters as an appetizer, which come with spicy rocoto pepper sauce, ponzu, and sweet red onion. They’re fresh, spicy, a tad sweet from the onion, and exactly what our bodies need after taking a pummeling from the LA sun. Decked-out marisco cocteles are also on the menu, and they luckily come in a tall glass of tart leche de tigre. This sour lemon-ají juice is mixed with shrimp, calamari, kampachi, Peruvian choclo corn, and chancha to create the seafood sundae of our dreams.
Chifa was one of those mid-pandemic openings that we couldn’t stop talking about - partially because everyone was going a bit stir crazy, and also because it’s genuinely that good. This Eagle Rock spot might look like a traditional Cantonese restaurant at first, but you’ll quickly realize that they actually specialize in Chinese-Peruvian food at its best. Their juicy anticucho skewers tip their hat to the restaurant’s origins in Lima, but they’re even better once dipped in a spicy cilantro and serrano chili sauce. If you’re also a self-proclaimed fan of chewy noodles, their spicy dan dan mian are just that with a great Szechuan sesame sauce that reminds us of the Thai peanut sauce we usually dunk our chicken satay into. Chifa’s beautifully glossy si yao chicken also deserves its time in the spotlight. It’s perfectly juicy and has a golden brown skin that any rotisserie chicken would envy, after being slowly poached in aged soy sauce.
Whether you’re in the mood for a light seafood lunch or some of our favorite fried rice around, Natalie’s offers plenty of both with two locations in Hollywood and Glendale. Their ceviche mixto comes with the usual fish, shrimp, and squid, but it’s the salad’s sour marinade that makes it worth immediately peeling off the 101 for. The leche de tigre comes in a beautiful dark-yellow-almost-orange color with a bit of ají chili that makes us pucker up after each bite. The ceviche then receives its boiled potatoes, pickled onions, and chancha (fried corn kernels) for some great crunch. The other star on Natalie’s menu is the arroz chaufa, Peru’s take on Chinese fried rice. The Especial a la Natalie arroz is a surf-and-turf situation with freshly grilled shrimp, squid, octopus, mussels, beef, and chicken, all of which get folded into eggy fried rice seasoned with a healthy splash of soy sauce.
Aji Peruvian Cuisine is a casual spot right off Junipero Beach, making it great for intimate dinners with friends, family, or that one chronically stressed roommate who really needs to get out of the house. The menu ranges from big entrees to small bites like their excellent ceviche nikkei, a Japanese take on Peru’s signature dish. Fresh ahi tuna sashimi is served in a pool of soy sauce, lime juice, ají, ginger, and daikon to create one very good crudo that’s perfect after a long day of doing absolutely nothing. If you want something warm instead, order the tacu tacu. This classic bean and rice mixture gets pan-fried until it forms a crust, and is then topped with a bright yellow ají aioli and pickled onion salsa for extra oomph. But no meal here is complete without the causa limeña: three balls of yellow mashed potatoes seasoned with yellow ají and topped with creamy Dungeness crab, fresh avocado, and jalapeño aioli for some additional heat. It’s refreshing, a little spicy, and a reminder that mashed potatoes really are a perfect food.
This Hollywood spot serves delicious ceviches, chifa dishes, and has a great pisco selection (they even have their own pisco-themed social club) that you should definitely remember when planning your next Happy Hour. Besides the classic pisco sour, the equally tart Chilcano is great. It’s a sharp mix of ginger beer, fresh lime, and spicy bitters with a strong kick from the pisco, and goes perfectly with some Peruvian-style sashimi. We love the sliced sea bass tiradito, which comes in thick slices that sit in a creamy leche de tigre rather than the usual lemon juice marinade. Aside from abrebocas (Peruvian Spanish for appetizers), go for the arroz con mariscos - a chifa-style fried rice with meaty prawns, Peruvian scallops, and a pickled onion salsa for some extra acid.