HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


Peruvian Food: Los Balcones del Peru, Mamita's and Mario's

I was disappointed with my experience at Los Balcones del Peru last night. I had been looking forward to trying more Peruvian food. The food was only okay, and the service was not great at all. They had one waitress working all the tables.

I definitely felt the food and service at Mamita's in Glendale was better. The portions were also larger and tastier.

There is a lot of buzz about Mario's. I need to try that next.

Any thoughts on the Peruvian restaurants in LA would be appreciated. Thanks.

Mario's Peruvian & Seafood
5786 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/650205 (among many other glowing reviews to be found on the LA board)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg

      Adding link

      3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

    2. Give Puro Sabor in Van Nuys a try. I think it's the best Peruvian in town.

      1. I love Mario's!
        The Chupe Carmarones is one of the best soups I have ever had. Don't like the lack of beer/wine or the lines but man-o-man the food is perfect.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ciao Bob

          Been to both Mario's and Balcones recently and Balcones seemed better--but largely because the last visit to Mario's was a disaster. Has anything changed lately at Mario's--we didn't recognize the guy behind the counter--or was it just cook's night off?

          1. re: Chandavkl

            I went last week for the first time in many years and thought it was as good as ever, maybe better.

        2. If you are ever in the South Bay, give Kotosh a try. It is Peruvian food and sushi. The owners are Japanese-Peruvians and the two cuisines actually go pretty well together.

          I also love Mario's. I wish I worked or lived closer to that place. :)

          Kotosh at Kamiyama
          2408 Lomita Blvd, Lomita, CA 90717

          4 Replies
          1. re: annapurna7

            Second Kotosh - their salsa de aji is just right. Really like Puro Sabor too. Haven't tried Mo Chica yet but it seems they've nabbed the crown for elevated Peruvian cuisine.

            1. re: bulavinaka

              Normally when one speaks of Peru and elevated my mind usually jumps to some Andean vista or nasal numbing botanical substance. Is Mo-Chica known to be more "higher" end (no pun intended) Peruvian fare?

              1. re: Servorg

                As I typed that word - elevated - I thought of you - no joke. "Hmmm - maybe I should change this to some other word - Servorg is sure to lambaste me for this. Oh what the hell - let's see if he bites..." :)

                From what I've read and heard, Mo Chica is about as high-end dining as one can currently find when it comes to Peruvian cuisine. I could be wrong, but aside from Mo Chica, I think tasting menus are unheard of in Peruvian restaurants around here.

                1. re: bulavinaka

                  MO- CHICA

                  as i posted before- I returned from Gaston's new restaurant in Cuzco and went to Mo Chica three times in the next week. Mo-chica was every bit as good, if not imho better (but no need to split hairs)

                  as said above: the food is the highest, the ambiance is: what can you say- it is definately L.A. where you can't discount food in strip malls and other "unlikely" places. its "urban" fun and they are very nice, AND it is probably one of the best bargains in town (certainly better than any LA Week- or whatever they called that)

                  When Mario gets a new restaurant the prices will at least double

                  Don't miss it-

          2. Don't expect good service @ Marios, you go there for the food and "deal" with the sub par service. Despite their sucess @ the same location for over 20 years if I'm correct, they haven't found the need to expand to a bettter, more convenient location for the convenience of their customers, who've made them sucessful, or improved on their service. People still keep going. I guess they must be doing something right, because they're always busy. Their thought must be, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ollie

              too bad Mario's doesn't move just a few blocks east to the former Pueblo Viejo spot near Larchmont Blvd. Would allow for beer & wine, and has about the same amount of parking to the rear of the building.

            2. Charo's Peruvian in Long Beach, near the theatres in the Town Center


              I liked her ceviche mixto.

              Charo's Peruvian Cuisine
              7563 Carson Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90808

              1. Heard of a place either in Burbank or Glendale that I was going to track down called Lau's which came highly recommended. Anybody been there?

                3 Replies
                1. re: Hughlipton

                  I believe Lau's is out of business. I tried tracking it down a few years ago and found an empty storefront.

                  1. re: Galen

                    Spotted Lau's the other day as I was eating at the burger stand across the street. Haven't tried it myself, but would be curious to see what others thought of it. It did seem to be vacant during lunch on a weekday, so I'm not sure about their hours
                    2315 Victory Blvd
                    Burbank, CA 91506
                    (818) 848-1192

                    1. re: ozzygee

                      If I remember correctly I was told that had weird hours. They were supposed to be open only Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 lunch to 9:00 p.m. How you stay in business with those hours is beyone me but now that you've pinned down the address I may have to give a good look.

                2. Our family used to be faithful to Los Balcones. But for the past year we keep returning to El Rocoto. (They also have a Cerritos location) Mo Chica is impressive, but we like going where everyone can get what they want off a more extensive menu, such as soup.

                  El Rocoto

                  1356 W Artesia Blvd
                  Gardena, CA 90248-3370
                  (310) 768-8768

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: nectarine

                    I'm just adding the link for El Rocoto. We went to the Cerritos one and it was okay, I thought maybe the food a bit underseasoned. The lamb shank dish was probably the best of the 3 we tried.

                    El Rocoto
                    1356 Artesia Blvd, Gardena, CA 90248

                    El Rocoto Restaurant
                    11433 South St, Cerritos, CA 90703

                  2. I love Natalie Peruvian. Really great ceviches.

                    1. Puro Sabor in Van Nuys. Their fish dishes are good.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: SilverlakePhil

                        Agreed on the fish dishes, in general, but their saltado pales in comparison to mo-chica.

                      2. Ms. Dr. Oz and I had dinner last night at Puro Sabor -- 6366 Van Nuys Bv., which is just south of Victory. We've eaten there several times, and each time have been impressed by the quality of the food, the size of the portions, and the friendliness. It is a small, obviously family-run place, very clean, very pleasant. We split several appetizers, and shared a nice large portion of truly excellent ceviche pescado (just fish) -- I've also had their ceviche misto, which has fish, shrimp, octopus and squid. On the plate with the ceviche are chunks of potato and sweet potato, a partial ear of large-kernel corn, a lot of thinly-sliced red onion, and a handful of parched corn. I think the ceviche pescado was about $12. Our total -- 3 apps, the ceviche, and 2 drinks (purple corn for Ms. Dr. Oz and a mixed-fruit thing with strawberry, pineapple and papaya for me) was $32 and change, and was more than we could finish. Strongly recommended.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ozhead

                          Puro Sabor is wonderful but long drive 4 me. Two places not mentioend. Mi Patria in Pico Rivera is pretty darned good, very large servings, good menu. Norys in Cypress is the best I ever have, BUT it is a strip center divey place, not fancy, just beer and wine, gets very busy with repeat customers. Still waiting for new Pasadena place, with hope!

                        2. Recently tried Mo-Chica in the Mercado de La Paloma near USC. The food was ok, but the service was unbearably slow. I think there is better Peruvian food in LA. The best dish of those we tried was the ceviche, but even that wasn't exceptional. My friend got the lamb, which I think was better than the seafood rice I had. Many Peruvian restaurants serve bread and green sauce prior to serving any appetizers and entrees. Mo-Chica did not, which was disappointing.

                          I also tried a Peruvian place a few months ago in Orange County. I forgot the name, but it was in a mini-mall and had two locations in the same city, near Irvine. Anyway, very good food, great drinks and excellent service, plus live Peruvian music. I enjoyed it. I will post the name, when I remember it.

                          3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: katkoupai

                            You might want to give a try at El Pollo Imperial in Long Beach.

                            I also like Charo's Peruvian in that giant shopping center in east Long Beach with the movies. It might be related to the two you liked in OC.

                            El Pollo Imperial
                            5991 Atlantic Ave, Long Beach, CA 90805

                            1. re: mlgb

                              Thank you! Someone told me about a place called Pollo Inka in Lawndale, and a Peruvian-American told me about a place called El Rocoto (?) in LA. I think El Rocoto is the one you mentioned above. Is that near the South Bay?

                              1. re: katkoupai

                                El Rocoto place link for Gardena.

                                ADD: I now notice that "nectarine" had already linked El Rocoto up thread.

                                El Rocoto
                                1356 W Artesia Blvd, Gardena, CA 90248

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  There is also an El Rocoto in Cerritos but I think the Gardena one is better.
                                  El Rocoto is more a full-menu place with a lot of the Chinese-Peruvian dishes. I liked the ceviche in the Gardena restaurant.

                                  I think Charo's family ran (or runs?) the Inka Grill in OC.

                                  It is hard to keep all the names straight!

                                  El Rocoto Restaurant
                                  11433 South St, Cerritos, CA 90703

                                  Inka Grill
                                  260 Bristol St, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

                            2. re: katkoupai

                              Here's a photo of the ceviche at Mo-Chica:

                              3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                            3. Peruvian is the Grubman’s 2d favorite cuisine. Here’s my take:

                              Los Balcones offers the best overall Peruvian experience, esp for 4 or more grazers at a time.
                              Mario’s chupe de camarones is the best P dish anywhere outside of Lima.
                              El Pollo Inka’s roasted chicken is pretty wonderful if you are lost & alone in Lawndale.
                              Mo-Chica to go rocks the takeout category.

                              El Pollo Inka
                              15400 Hawthorne Blvd, Lawndale, CA 90260

                              3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Mr Grub

                                Very helpful. Interestingly, I thought the seafood rice dish at Mo-Chica tasted better leftover than it did in the restaurant. Not sure why. Maybe I should go there again for takeout.

                                3655 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90007

                              2. It's not really a restaurant, but Pollo a la Brasa in Koreatown (Western & 8th) is a Peruvian rotisserie chicken joint which, in my opinion is absolutely incredible. Juicy, tender, smokey chicken drenched in green aji sauce.... all under $10. You can smell the place 2 blocks away :)

                                1 Reply
                                1. Just thought I'd piggyback off this great old post... I happened to have eaten at the Mario's in La Mirada recently and it was really good. The Seafood Saltado was amazing. It had such great flavor (nice and smoky and spiced just right). The Ceviche was excellent although maybe just a tad bit too spicy for me (maybe not for some whose taste buds can handle the intense heat); reminded me of really spicy Aguachile. My only gripe was their Yucca. It was not edible. Overall though I think it's still a good spot to go to if you're in that area.

                                  Mario's Peruvian
                                  15720 Imperial Hwy
                                  La Mirada, CA 90638

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: snooze button

                                    El Pollan in a gritty district in East Los at Atlantic and Beverly has amazing food; short on ambiance - a kind of enclosed patio with a head on view of the metro rail, the food is made to order. Call ahead and it will be ready when you get there otherwise, a wait. Cerviche is outstanding with a separate little pitcher with the broth to add or guzzle. Lomo saltido wonderful and all the shrimp dishes, potatoe dishes are very good - my fave the heart grilled antichucocos.

                                    El Pollan
                                    Beverly west of Atlantic on south side of street
                                    East Los Angeles
                                    would ad phone number but menu is in the glove of my car-:)

                                    1. re: ZoeZara

                                      Google has an "El Pollon" listed in the area you mention, but not an "El Pollan."

                                      1. re: ZoeZara

                                        Here's the yelp link - take a look at the address and see if it's the one you are thinking of!


                                      2. re: snooze button

                                        Good to know. Thanks.
                                        Peru's Taste in Northridge (Louise/Roscoe) has become my Peruvian sweet spot of late.

                                      3. 2 weeks ago I had Peruvian roast chicken at The Chicken Shack in Hermosa Beach, and thought it was excellent, better than Lola's in Van Nuys. The Chicken Shack, 1030 Aviation Blvd, Hermosa Beach 90254

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: pizzafreak

                                          We had a pretty good meal at Las Dunas in Winnetka last night.
                                          Especially liked the Ceviche Mixto Las Dunas with fried calimari on top. The Pescado Chorrileano and Steak were very good, too. Wasn't crazy about the Tallerin Verde. Their aji sauce is good, and their bread comes put nice and toasty. Service was friendly and efficient.
                                          A lot easier and closer for me than Puro Sabor.