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Jul 2, 2008 12:01 PM

Latin Chef - San Diego

Peruvian food in San Diego is hard to find so my husband and I were tempted by the good reviews of LATIN CHEF in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. The restaurant was empty save for one couple that was waiting for their meal. A friendly food server asked if we had reservations? Mind you the restaurant was empty. She told us to take a seat anywhere. We ordered Chicha and a Coke, which both arrived cool however no ice in the glass. My husband requested ice and she said "oh?" Then she sent someone from the kitchen to go buy a bag of ice, when he returned the ice was given somewhat reluctantly. Fine so far, we ordered antichucos, pollo saltado, and tallirin verde con bistecka. The antichucos were tasty but the had been reheated in the microwave and were not very warm. A table of six arrived and the server took their order. They had to request ice after their drinks arrived. I have been to Peru many time and ice is not commonly found in drinks however in the states all Peruvian restaurants serve ice with their drinks.
My food arrived and was O.K. the server said my husband's pollo dish would be coming. I waited a couple of minutes and then I started eating slowly while my husband watched. Five minutes passed and the server brought one plate out to place in front of one of the six diners at the other table. My husband wanted to leave but I had aready eaten 1/2 my food and did not want to waste the other half. He told the server to please get his meal. She said, "it's coming." Every five minutes for the next 15 minutes a new plate arrived in front of a person on the table of six. They were as frustrated as us however they did not complain to the server only amongst themselves.
After thirty minutes my husband went to the kitchen/front counter and requested his bill, he noticed a man in the kitchen eating a freshly prepared dinner and talking to the chef. The server asked if my husband would like his meal to go. Mind you the only meal in the back was the chef's friend's meal. My husband said he had waited thirty minutes from the time I received my meal to the time he requested his bill. He paid for what we ate and he grab dessert in Old Town San Diego at the FireHouse Cafe, YUMMY and we listen to live Bossa Nova out on the twinkle lighted patio.

Latin Chef has a talent for food preporation however he lacks the ability to serve more than one person at a time. Also first come is not always first served in his restaurant. I don't understand why he would start on a table of six before he served the other half of a table for two that had sent two requests to the kitchen in regards to when the second meal would arrive. SADLY, LATIN CHEF is a disappointment in the Peruvian Restarant Catagory.

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  1. sorry to hear of your negative experience

    We ate at Latin Chef and loved it.

    I notice this is your first post on Chowhound


    1. sorry about your bad service and experience. We've not had awful service so far....

      1. Sounds like whomever was in the kitchen was having a hard time, to say the least. I haven't heard many other complaints about the service - I thought the hot food was just ok - but the ceviche was fabulous. Sorry you had a bad experience.

        1. Yes, Enorah, this was my first post however I have been a fan of Chowhound for about two years. I love this site and use it whenever we travel which is quite frequently. I was encouraged by my bitter husband who was so let down by not being fed at the Latin Chef. I guess we had the bad luck to catch the Latin Chef on an off day.

          We did head up to L.A. the next day and ate at El Pollo Inka. As always the meal was fantastic and sizzling hot. Their Pisco Sours are awesome and their servers are seasoned in the art of treating every diner as a welcomed guest.

          I don't think we will try Latin Chef again but I truly hope my post will encourage him to complete one table prior to starting another. My love of Peruvian food outweighed by manners to wait until my husbands food was served (or not served in our case).

          3 Replies
          1. re: food4lilli

            My family is Peruvian, and I've been to Peru numerous times. The best Peruvian food (like any food, really) is the one that you get at home.

            That being said, Latin Chef does some good things. They keep it nice and authentic. But, sadly, on the operational side of things they do come up short. I've been there a few times, and have had the same experience you did. Looooooong wait for food and the owner and servers stressed out. Waiting for a dish for 40 minutes, while large groups are given their appetizers first. but going on a Friday night, or on the weekend should be no excuse. The place should be thriving with the increase in clientele, not struggling.

            End of story, they need to expand the kitchen and get two chefs back there, not just the one.

            The food is good, though. A little sparse on the plate, but good. I do need to go and try out Aji Seco.

            For Orange Country, in Garden Grove, you definitely have to try Nory's on Euclid. It's the bomb. Wonderful food there.

            La Pizza Grotto nearby on Harbor is good too. It looks like a pizza place (which it is, hence the name), but it's actually a really good Peruvian restaurant with a full authentic menu. Who says Peruvians can't multitask?

            1. re: food4lilli

              I really miss El Pollo Inka in Lawndale, Torrance, West LA. Do you know if the Latin Chef has Aji de Gallina (I missed it so much that I tried to make it once with mixed results). Q's in Encinitas was okay but way overpriced like twice as much as the 11.95 plate at Inka.

              1. re: tangyteng

                Yeh, and they do a good job with the dish. It and the cebiche are probably the best tasting things I've had there. Not that I've actually had any food that wasn't at least good.

                It's too bad hearing about the service issues. Perhaps since the place doubled the seating, they haven't figured out how to do the serving right. But I still would come back for the food.

            2. I have to say I agree about the service - its super lacking. I always go back because I adore the food but the place is just poorly managed and its an awkward experience (every time for the 5 times I've been there).