July is a big month in terms of national celebrations: The U.S. parties it up for Fourth of July (AKA Independence Day), the French guzzle Champagne (or they should) for Bastille Day, and Peru commemorates its Independence Day on July 28 (today).
You've definitely done the whole barbecue-and-fireworks thing. And you've probably indulged in some French fare in honor of the storming of Bastille -- or hopefully attended the annual waiters' race at Pistache. Peruvian Independence Day, on the other hand, we doubt you've experienced.
If you're looking to get down on one of the most revered cuisines in the world for Peru's birthday, here are the five best Peruvian spots in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Everyone likes a good sandwich, including Peruvians. And if you're looking for the best example of what the fine folks from Peru like to stick between two slices of bread, you better come here. Owner Vanessa Fedak is the daughter of a well-known chef, and at her Wilton Manors shop, she creates handheld meals that could rival some of the best fork and knife dishes you've ever had -- but for a fraction of the cost. The lomo saltado sandwich is easy on your wallet but fancy in your mouth, and the fish sandwich is so good you won't even mind that you don't like fish sandwiches. It's gourmet on a shoestring.
Right now you're probably wondering why a Chinese restaurant is on a list of Peruvian eateries. Well, friends, it's called chifa, a Peruvianized version of the Cantonese-style cuisine. And it's pretty freaking tasty. Arroz chaufa con pollo ($8) is, like, the American version of chicken fried rice, but firmer and with a stronger umami flavor -- it uses real soy sauce instead of the yellow food coloring used in most of the U.S. Tallarín saltado is a heaping plate of soft noodles with roasted pork, shrimp, and vegetables in a thick soy and oyster sauce. With bold flavors, massive portions, and low price points, you need to try it.
Situated in one of the many strip malls that line Sample Road in Margate, Gordo's does simple, traditional Peruvian cuisine. All of the favorites can be found here: causas, chilled layers of creamy mashed potato, avocados, choice of meat, and olive or golf sauce; anticuchos, skewers of chicken, beef, or beef heart; eight ceviches; tiraditos, the Peruvian equivalent of sashimi; aji de gallina, chicken served in a creamy, spicy yellow sauce made with the ever-present aji amarillo chili... You get the drift.
Just like every other culinary culture in the world, Peru has a multitude of styles and levels of fare. When it comes to the high-end modern Peruvian that's been spreading across the world by the nation's most famous chef Gaston Acurio, this place is your best bet in Broward and Palm Beach. In elegant contemporary digs, the restaurant serves its own takes on all the classics. Causas, cold mashed potato cakes topped with sauce and protein, are elevated with ingredients like avocado mousse, sweet potato, and spicy aioli. Ceviche is offered with all the spicy dressings, from traditional to aji amarillo to Asian-inspired Nikkei.
Ask a Peruvian -- or chef -- where he goes when he's looking to get down on some serious comida peruana, it's this place. All the staples of the Peruvian kitchen are on the menu, from beef heart antichuchos and Peruvian-style tamales to a lusty rendition of lomo saltado and traditional tiraditos. And everything is as delicious as hell. It last won New Times' pick for Best Peruvian Cuisine back in 2011. But we'll keep on visiting over and over again -- it's that legit.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
Keep New Times Broward-Palm Beach Free... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering South Florida with no paywalls.