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Baltimore's Very Own Authentic Peruvian Restaurant

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OK-- I know another chain of posts was recently put up about the new Peruvian restaurant-- Rinconcito Peruano-, but I am going to go ahead and add a new one, with a review I had written up last weekend but hadn't had a a chance to post. So here it is-- a little redundant based on earlier comments, but hopefully worthwhile for those looking for some authentic Peruvian cuisine right here in Charm City!
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Upon moving back from Austin last month, I was very pleased to discover a new Peruvian restaurant with more to offer than the standard pollo a la brasa (the rotisserie chicken that is so ridiculously addictive!). The place is called Rinconcito Peruano and, true to its name, is located on the corner of Ann and Lombard in upper Fells Point (close to Johns Hopkins). My husband (a native Peruvian and hence a more bona fide critic then myself) and I decided to try it out last Friday night and were quite pleased indeed. The options include my all-time favorite-- lomo saltado, which is a scrumptious sautéed mix of strips of sirloin steak with tomatoes, onions, and fried potatoes (pretty much every Peruvian dish must have potatoes in some form or another!). Rinconito's version was a plate piled high with rice and the yummy mixture. Unfortunately, it was rather salty since they had added soy sauce. Their ceviche, however, was soaked in lime juice to perfection. It even came with the standard sides of sweet potato and choclo, which is Peruvian corn (much larger kernels and more starchy than sweet corn).

My husband tried the anticuchos, which is a good option for the adventurous eaters out – anticuchos are skewered beef hearts drenched in a tasty sauce. He said they were made just like back home. For his main dish, he tried the bistec al pobre, which is a slab of beef served with a pile of rice on the side and fried plantains. Not the most exciting meal, but again, my husband was more than satisfied.

For beverages, we tried the fresh-made Chicha Morada, which is a sweet drink made from purple corn—delicious and refreshing. There was also an assortment of fresh-made fruit smoothies, including papaya and passion fruit. I don’t think they have their liquor license yet, although it would be nice if they could eventually get some Peruvian beers in there as an alternative beverage!

Last but not least, for the exceptionally brave-hearted, the owner told us that they even make "cuy" every now and then. Cuy = guinea pig, a delicacy in Peru, which is actually rather tasty if it is cooked right. But have no fears-- the cuy come from a Peruvian restaurant supplier in NJ, not the local PetSmart. But for those who just want something basic, have no fears because Rinconcito also serves up the aforementioned roasted chicken favorite.

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  1. Thanks for this review. I'm glad that someone besides me has tried this place! The owner told me that cuy is often served on Sundays.....

    I'm basically wondering what day you were there. I was there during a week day, and the only thing on the menu was the chicken. Good to see that they're expanding the menu. And, let's hope they do well!

    3 Replies
    1. re: baltoellen

      What exactly IS Peruvian chicken? I see it advertised and I don't know what that means. Is it a recipe or a preparation or what?

      1. re: pomme de terre

        Peruvian Chicken is basically a rotisseri chicken of course on charcoal and this chicken has been marinated on different spices including to one of this black beer, of course different restaurants add their own taste to it but basically is a chicken marinated with garlic, salt, pepper, cumin and dark beer and cooked over charcoal., I hope this helps

      2. re: baltoellen

        Ellen, I hope they do good too, since I been in the USA peruvian restaurants has not succeed in this area, people are to used to the tex mex cousine and the spanish cousine (both are great) but there are more to it on the latin cousine, I hope this restaurant do good and increase their menu since Peruvian cousine has one of the top records on the most variety of dishes, from chicken, pork, beef all the way to the just mentioned cuy....I will recomend the Tallarin saltado or the aji de gallina...it's great

      3. Thanks for the informative post, BinB. Could you provide a bit more on prices, ambience, service, parking, please? I don't live in Baltimore, but visit regularly. Thanks.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Sal Gee

          I'm not the OP, but have been there. The place is on the corner of Lombard and Ann Streets. I only got carryout, but as far as 'ambiance,' it's basically an old corner SE Baltimore type bar, a large one, with some very basic four top tables. I don't imagine there's much in the way of 'service,' since I think it's pretty much one guy and his sister. The prices are very inexpensive, and parking is where you can find it on the street!

          Your question sort of made me chuckle, since it's really just sort of a quick, cheap meal kind of place, and definitely not a 'dining establishment!'

          1. re: baltoellen

            Thanks, Balto
            Always happy to provide a chuckle. I look forward dropping by for some anticuchos.

        2. Ok, folks. Pleeeeaaase go here to keep this place open. Finally had a chance to try it tonight, and the original poster's take on the ceviche was spot on. The lime-y ness was perfect and the fish was tangy and salty and spicy and perfectly dressed with lightly lime-juiced onions and cilantro. I ordered a side of fried plantains, and they were freshly fried, steaming hot, and very sweet. The very nice lady (owner? she did the cooking and serving) brought out a little sample glass of the chica morada when I asked about it, and it was wonderful enough that I ordered the whole glass - perfectly sweet with little chunks of apple and pineapple and that hint of cinnamon. My boyfriend had the rotisserie peruvian chicken, which was really moist but not quite as good as Chicken Rico's (maybe because it was more delicately seasoned here, whereas Chicken Rico's is just plain seasoned and tasty). Our friend also had the lomo saltado, which looked fantastic and he said he really enjoyed it (though this was his first shot at Peruvian).

          Halfway through the meal, the chef/owner lady brought out a little plate of a casserole she'd just made and offered to me to try some (I think because I was curious about the menu and was chatting with her a bit). It was very yummy and not something on the menu. It was basically tunafish salad spread over chunky mashed potatoes (with a twist - maybe yuca?) with more potato on top and a little mayo layer on top of that. Kind of served cold. Sounds a little weird but it was quite tasty.

          As for pricing - very affordable. 1/2 rotisserie chicken was $6.95, my entree-sized ceviche $9.95 (same as the lomo saltado). $2 for plantains. $2 for chica morada.

          Unfortunately, we were there around 7:30/8 on a Friday night and the place was empty. One or two folks came in for take out orders, but I was disappointed that there weren't more diners there. I hope they make it!

          2 Replies
          1. re: bluepig1

            bluepig1,
            thanks for the reminder to go back there! I also worry that they won't make it, but was walking around the there the other evening, and got the delish chica to go....mmmmm. Anyway, here's my original post, and I, too, worry about them staying in biz...
            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/411215

            1. re: baltoellen

              had an enjoyable meal there a couple of weeks ago but sad to say they didn't have any chicken! i was so disappointed. if, like me, you were intent on chicken, you might want to call ahead or be prepared to order something else. i've been craving ever since, so tonight...i am off to hunt again :)

          2. thanks for the spotlighting rinconcito peruano. it sounds really good & i cant wait to check it out. does anyone know if they have a restaurant in the dc area that also serves cuy? or of another restaurant in the dc area that serves cuy? ive really been interested in finding a local spot that offers it on the menu. -gracias! :)

            32 Replies
            1. re: cambacolla

              Just came back from lunch there with fellow 'hound. Had lomo and ceviche, and pitcher of chica m....

              I'll let him fill everyone in, but this place is really great, and besides us, only one other customer for lunch. I do hope they survive--since they offer much more than just chicken!

              1. re: baltoellen

                I ended up going there yet again last night, after describing it to a friend that was over. Again, we had the lomo saltado, the ceviche, and my friend, who had been to Peru, got the anticuchos. He said that it all was exactly as good as he remembered it from Peru.

                The people who work there are warm and wonderful, and it's so sad that pretty much my dining companions and I are always the only ones there. :-(

                1. re: baltoellen

                  Sadly, this is starting to sound like the fate of the Ethiopian place (Sunrise? Sunshine?) that used to be on Eastern just east of Broadway. Same story - cuisine where there is little competition in Baltimore, great food, nice people, good value for the money, but no customer fannies in the seats!

                  Folks, if we don't want to bemoaning the loss in six months or a year, please go, give this place a try, and if you like it, tell your friends and go back yourself. The folks posting on this thread are doing their part, how about if more of the rest of us (me included) give this placea try?

                  1. re: Warthog

                    Warthog,

                    Last night over dinner I was thinking that I didn't need another 'restaurant project,' like Sunlight Ethiopian, or your ill-fated fav. It just hurts to really like a place, want the best for them, and have them close down.

                    Since it's in my 'hood, so to speak, I've been touting it on the 'hood listserv as well....so, we shall see!

                    Look forward to hearing back from all the new people who end up going!

                    1. re: baltoellen

                      Ok, I will go for dinner tonight. Promise.

                      Maybe doing a chow lunch there would help.

                      1. re: JonParker

                        We really *should* do a chow lunch at some point. And, this place would work perfectly!

                        1. re: baltoellen

                          Ok, yum. I had the chicken, and it was delicious -- easily as good as Chicken Rico. The fries, meh. The salad I didn't bother to eat. I got it to go, but had a glass of the chica morada while I waited. That was way good, and would be even better on a hot day.

                          I will try to go back this weekend and have something else. But this is now my go to place for Peruvian chicken for sure.

                          And yes, I was the only customer in the place. Damn. Let me add my name to the chorus of voices urging people to go.

                          I think a chow lunch would be great. We're not really supposed to set it up on the board, but if anyone wants I could set up an area on my message board for it (it's actually devoted to classic films, but I can make room for this). Or we could use Yahoo groups or something. Any volunteers to organize it?

                          1. re: JonParker

                            A man of your word, JP! So happy you went.

                            A classic film loving hound...how great. I'll be happy to help organize this, if you want to set up a board--yahoo is easy enough.

                            To get things started, you can contact me at ourgalellen@yahoo.com.

                            A chow outing for the Baltimore group is long overdue!

                            1. re: baltoellen

                              Ok. We're finally ready to start organizing some chow outings. Jon Parker has been good enough to set up a yahoo group, and you can sign up for it here called charmcityhounds: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/charmci...
                              Hope to see you there virtually soon, and in person at the Peruvian place a bit later!

                              1. re: baltoellen

                                I'll try to go to this restaurant this weekend, but I also joined the group. Always wanted to meet the local chowhounders! Thanks for setting it up!

                                1. re: pattiat600block

                                  I can't make the dinner, but wanted to do my part to keep the place open,
                                  and went over for lunch yesterday...it was locked up! The sign said it was open Monday's from 11am on...I was there at 11:50...hope this isn't bad news...I was so bummed!

                                2. re: baltoellen

                                  So how was it? And can they handle a crowd?

                                  1. re: chowsearch

                                    Well, it wasn't just the 11 of us there, but the place was the most crowded I'd ever seen it! Very good news, indeed.

                                    It also turns out that the owner (?) also works at The Helmand, so is no stranger to handling big and multiple tables. He was very appreciative (and even had a printout of this very thread).

                                    I've said enough on the place, and let the other 'hounds who were there fill in all the details!

                                    1. re: baltoellen

                                      Is Ellen the only one that survived last night's Chow dinner? :-)

                                      1. re: Hal Laurent

                                        Hi There-
                                        Here is a full review from the CHARM CITY CHEAP EATS (CCCEs) ;-)

                                        Wed. 7PM at El Rinconcito Peruvian Rest. 1801 E. Lombard St. Balt. 21231

                                        To summerize the overall experience: clean, homey comfort quality food served with a smile.

                                        This establishment is a keeper, if supported by us.

                                        Menu:

                                        Whole Chicken -seasoned and rotisserie over charcoal served with FF and garden salad, corn on cob with dipping sauces $13.50 and comes with Pitcher of Chicha Morada

                                        Lomo Saltado- Sauteed beef, stips, julienned peppers, onions, tomatoes, peas, French Fries, fresh cilantro, served with rice and potatoes. $9.95 this is a Peruvian stir-fry influenced by Chinese and Japanese of mid 1800s,

                                        Bistec Encebollado- Lima Style (fried egg on top), served with rice, sliced boiled potatoes or in our case (Plaintains & French Fries), sauteed onions, tomatoes and cilantro $9.95

                                        Anticuchos- Skewered beef heart as mentioned prior served with dipping sauces, corn on cob and FF-Special of day.

                                        Ceviche - Fresh fish with lemon juices topped with toasted corn kernels, red onion, cilantro, sweet potato and corn on cob. $9.95

                                        Salchipapas- FF lettuce, tomato, mayo, mustard on hot dog $3.95

                                        Tallarin Saltado- Sauted beef, onions, tomatoes, cilantro served with pasta $9.95

                                        Chuleta de Cerdo A La Parrilla- Grilled pork chop served with rice and salad.
                                        Side DIshes- all $1.95
                                        Baskets of Plantains
                                        Basket of FF
                                        Beans
                                        Cole Slaw
                                        Rice

                                        Whole Fried Fish served with lentils and rice-Special of Day

                                        Cuy- this rare treat is only available when the supplier carries it. It can be served 3 ways- grilled, fried or roasted all are marinated the same way. The guinea pig is served whole with feet and claws in tact for those adventure diners. You can call the rest. to check for daily specials and this item or be placed on a list to be contacted when it is available.

                                        Beverages- They offer Smoothies, Chicha Morrada (purple corn drink), Inca Kola(sparling yellow soda-sweet creamy bubble gum flavor), Passion Fruit by the glass. There is bar but no alcohol is served yet. BYOB appears to be an option.

                                        Carry out is available.

                                        Food was fresh!
                                        If you have not had the chicha morada- tastes like a nonalcoholic sangria to quote a CCCE member- but lis a spiced grape juice like beverage laced with cinnamon and nutmeg (or clove) garnished with bits of fresh diced apple and pineapple - YUM

                                        Ceviche - everyone agreed was great, fresh fish not fishy and huge portion.

                                        Plantains are slightly peachy in color so not your typical, served warmed and are sweet but served plain. Very good.

                                        If you like big portions, good prices, friendly atmosphere you will enjoy this place. Not sure if they accept CCards. We did pay cash.

                                        I would tell folks about this place and be sure to enjoy it again myself.
                                        Hope more will respond to their thoughts.

                                        1. re: hammocc

                                          Couldn't make it wednesday so I went today for 1/4 chicken dark. The rotisserie oven wasn't cranked up yet, but even though sitting, the leg and thigh was good, more aromatic than Chicken Rico with a possible tarragon overtone, and came with fries made while I waited and a little salad, all for $4.95. And they're having a Labor Day outdoor charcoal steak fundraiser lunch 12 noon Monday for earthquake relief in Peru.

                                          1. re: chowsearch

                                            Ok...I'll add a few more thoughts from my end of the table.

                                            The people who did eat beef, loved the anticuchos (sp?) and the potatoes on bottom that absorbed all the left over beefy goodness!

                                            By the time the whole fish we ordered reached us, well, there was nothing much left, but everyone seemed to love the rice and lentil sides.

                                            Ceviche was a hit....as were the little roasted pieces of corn with it, and place on the table.

                                            Not much discussion on the chicken, or the lomo salado, although I enjoyed them.

                                            Personally, I thought the chicha was not the best I've had there. May have been a bit watered down to deal with the crowd?

                                            Finally, the owner told me that they would start getting some traditional Peruvian desserts to offer.

                                            After hearing cuy described, I'm dying to try it. We also decided that the emphasis was more on the 'pig' than the 'guinea' part of the 'guinea pig!'

                                            And, an important note: our bill came to a whopping $11 per person!

                                            1. re: baltoellen

                                              There wasn't much to the fish down at our end either -- we were very careful to just take a taste. It's not something I would order on my own.

                                              The ceviche was outstanding, as was the chicken and the beef heart. The lomo salado was good but didn't measure up to the previously mentioned items.

                                              I would not only encourage people to try this place, but also to come to future chow outings. Outstanding company and outstanding food -- what more could you ask for?

                                              1. re: baltoellen

                                                Did they serve cancha at the table? Cancha is the dried kernels of corn that are like a bar snack, toasted and salted. Almost looks like munching on unpopped popcorn. Sometimes you have to ask for this at Puruvian restaurants. Cancha is great straight up but also can be sprinkled over your food.

                                                1. re: Steve

                                                  They had cancha sprinkled over the ceviche, which came with sweet potato. A great assortment of textures, as well as good flavors: I thought this was the best dish i tried. I got the chicken during a late lunch, and it had been hanging around a while. I also wasn't excited by its spicing; I found the chicken at Pollo Amigo on York Road in Towson to be much more exciting. Btw, if you are in the Towson culinary desert, Pollo Amigo is a great place for a cheap lunch: just above Merchants Tire place. Make sure to have the plantains as one of your sides (my daughter has it as both sides!)

                                                  1. re: Steve

                                                    They did bring us cancha at the table during our dinner, so they do have it. You might have to ask for it.

                                                2. re: chowsearch

                                                  Hmm, chowsearch, tell us more about the fundraiser lunch? Is it at the restaurant/outside of it? Did they say how much the lunch might be? I'll have to consider stopping by around noon on Monday... maybe there will be special items not normally on their regular menu.

                                                  1. re: bluepig1

                                                    I'm seriously considering stopping by then as well.

                                                    1. re: bluepig1

                                                      Monday noon maybe going til 9pm close they're grilling steak out front for $15, unclear what's included, but the owner guy made it sound special, seemed like he meant it would be a better beef experience than the bistec items currently on the menu and that might get added in the future. It sounded like he meant it would be a Labor Day barbecue benefit for earthquake victims back home. He said it was going to be a gran parillada, and made me regret taking French in high school. 410-276-2036

                                                      1. re: chowsearch

                                                        Checked this place out the other day.

                                                        Got the Ceviche and Fried Plantains to go.

                                                        Tips on the Ceviche were on point. Very fresh tasting and the onions and corn made it. Hearty than I am used to and very little liquid. Overall very enjoyable.

                                                        Plantains were fantastic. Fried to a nice caramelization on the outside with inside still creamy and delicious.

                                                        Talked with the owner while I waited, again the boards were on-point. Couldn't have been nicer. Took interest in me when I ordered an inca cola, and offered me a taste of the chicha morada, which was great as described.

                                                        I certainly will be frequenting this place as its so close to my house, the food was tasty and fresh, and the people were wonderful.

                                                  2. re: hammocc

                                                    There seem to be an awful lot of FF served with this meal. Is this typical Peruvian? Or just a Balto adaptation? If that latter, what does one usually get in Peru? when i ate there early on in the summer I was not that excited about my Pork chop which was pretty blandly seasoned and came w/ a mountain of FF. i think my disappointment was particularly hard to digest that day bc i had been craving the chicken but when we went that evening they weren't serving it!

                                      2. re: baltoellen

                                        you have a chow lunch there. i will come, and bring people. let's plan....

                                    2. re: baltoellen

                                      This is slightly unrelated, but I live in Butcher's Hill too and I hear about the neighborhood listserv all the time at the dogpark, but I keep forgetting the web address. Baltoellen, can you tell me how to get there? :)

                                      ps. learned about (and thoroughly enjoyed) Rinconcito Peruano from this forum, so thank you all! I work at a charter school and we have an upcoming unit on Peru, so I am going to see if they will cater a lunch for us...

                                      1. re: dantastic

                                        Look on the Butchers Hill website (butchershill.org), under About Butchers Hill, then Useful Links. There's a link to the Yahoo group there.

                                        1. re: Hal Laurent

                                          Thanks Hal!

                                    3. re: Warthog

                                      Well, I went last night, and I'm happy to say there was a large group of college-age persons and another table with two diners. Maybe the word is getting out.

                                      This time - A half chicken (that was a BIG chicken!), fried plantains, a pitcher of that purple stuff

                                      Next time - lomo saltado or ceviche - or both!

                                      This place is Warthog approved! Gee, maybe I need to get a hoof print stencil to leave a chalk mark on the sidewalk outside of "Warthog approved" restaurants!

                                      1. re: Warthog

                                        Definitely the ceviche. Sooo good. The anticuchos are really, really good too.

                              2. Thanks for the info on a new Peruvian place in MD that I will try next time in Baltimore. La Flor de la Canela is the best of those I have tried so far. The other MD Peruvian places I have been in tend to cut corners too much and often use stale or cheap ingredients, including the overpriced hole-in-the-wall Rockville joint that Tom S. for some reason recently swooned over.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: foodcheck

                                  An easy swooner...this place is completely unpretentious, a real mom-n-pop, and the pop works as a waiter at our beloved, very professional Helmand. It's really modest, but they have an ingredient that makes even the sitting-for-awhile chicken taste great--it might be tarragon. This family's only connections are religious, as you'll see on the wall and note how customers interact with the icons. They aren't connected to the DC dining snobocracy.

                                2. The Save El Rinconcito campaign has attracted the attention of Elizabeth Large, Baltimore Sun food critic. She mentioned this chowhound thread in her blog today.

                                  http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/enter...

                                  1. Yaaay! Citypaper gets it right!

                                    "Citypaper 2007 Best Peruvian Restaurant":
                                    http://www.citypaper.com/bob/story.as...

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: bluepig1

                                      I was going to say something to the fact that I never recall seeing it reviewed, but, ,lo and behold, it's in today's 'cheap eats' section of the CP.

                                      Apparently, the restaurant was out of everything, but the reviewer still thinks it's a place to go back to!

                                      1. re: baltoellen

                                        I wonder how they discovered it. Regardless, I'm glad to see it getting the publicity.

                                        1. re: JonParker

                                          and more....
                                          http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertain...

                                    2. I love Peruvian food... but I gotta say El Rinconcito Peruano is not good!!! I'm sorry to be the only one to give it a bad review, but I've gone there twice with my peruvian boyfriend and we really didn't like it. I'm from NY and hes from NJ, and I've always enjoyed the food there. I'm living in Baltimore now and was hoping that it would be good. I tried the lomo saltado (usually my favorite dish)... not so good. If this is your first taste of peruvian - there is soooo much better out there!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: gatita21

                                        Gatita21--tell us where, so we can try it!

                                      2. I have to give this place a try! Are there any other peruvian restaurant in the area. the Only one I have heard from is Rinconcito.?

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: cdda

                                          Sadly, they recently closed. If you make it to Montgomery County there are three great Peruvian restaurants: La Flor de la Canela (Gaithersburg), La Canela (Rockville) both owned by the same people and La Limena (Rockville). in Baltimore, there is Chicken Rico in Highlandtown which offers Peruvian style chicken.