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Oct 21, 2009 11:25 PM

Nazca Grill - San Diego

Just a brief summary of a first impression after a few lunch visits at a relative new Peruvian restaurant in Clairemont (4310 Genesee Ave) - Nazca Grill. It is in the old place of Aji Seco (and the formerly attached Mexican taco shop). So far my wife and I tried the Pollo a la Brasa which was not bad - very moist and tasty chicken but the fries were average standard fries and the Aji Amarilla was a bland. The pescado a la chorrillana (lightly fried fish with sauteed onions and tomatoes) was very good with excellent fish. The Lomo Saltado is one of the better versions. We normally prefered the version at Tropical Star over the one at Latin Chef but the one at Nazca is our new favorite in SD. We haven't tried any appetizers yet, e.g. Cebiche de Pescado (Latin Chef makes my favorite version) or Anticuchos.
Overall a niced addition to the area and with Tropical Star and the Balboa International Market now the third good place for a nice lunch within walking distance.

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  1. A few notes from our first visit to Nazca:

    Our server, who is apparently also one of the proprietors, was happy to answer questions and share his knowledge about Peruvian ingredients (such as the fact that there are 3,000 varieties of potatoes grown there).

    The Ceviche Tiradito is very different from what fans of Mexican ceviche are used to. There are strips of fish smothered in an "aji" sauce, accompanied by some vegetables, including Peruvian corn with huge kernels, and "corn nuts" (which are much lighter and less likely to break your teeth than the commercial Corn Nuts brand that you buy in the 7-11).

    When a dish is described as having "spinach sauce" or "spinach noodles," it's really a delicious sort of Peruvian pesto, containing a lot of basil as well as spinach (but, I think no nuts).

    Diners should be aware that "bisteck" here is not a thick slab of beef with a juicy red center, but rather, a rather tough cut, pounded thin and fried. The sauteed ("saltado") beef dishes, however, seem to use a more tender cut of beef.

    The complete menu is online at

    1. Hey honkman, did they have Alfajores (cookies) on their menu? ever have them?

      6 Replies
      1. re: cstr

        No, I never had their Alfajores. I went a few more times over the last 12 months and overall ithe food is not bad. The recent visit was with somebody from Peru and she thought the food wasn't outstanding but also far from bad and we both thought that it was on a similar level as Latin Chef. (We both agreed that Q'ero is still the best place in SD to get peruvian food). During the last visit the restaurant was completely empty beside our group for lunch and so I am not sure if this was that day but I am not sure if the restaurant will last for a long time.

        1. re: honkman

          They are a Peruvian cookie with a cooked milk outer cookie with a cooked milk center filling that's very caramelly looking and creamy adicting good. Usually they're sprinkled with powdered sugar on the top.

          1. re: cstr

            Most Argentinian I know claim that "real" Alfajores, like you described them, are made in Argentina whereas the Peruvian ones often use chocolate and/or almonds. The only time I had Alfajores was at Caffe Luxxe in Santa Monica which were OK but nothing outstanding.

            1. re: honkman

              Interestingly, it's been the reverse for me. I've only had the alfajores Cstr described in Peru. Costa Rican bakeries also feature a super-sized version with dulce de leche and a shortbread-esque cookie, but the Peruvian ones are a little more delicate and there is such a thing as too much dulce de leche. My friend brought some Argentine alfajores home and they were dipped in chocolate, with a cakey cookie and a rum-infused filling.

              1. re: geekyfoodie

                I've seen the larger Alfajores but prefer the regular size. Now I'm jonesing for them, wish I could find some close by..

                1. re: cstr

                  I have been looking for a good Peruvian restaurant in SD as my fiance is Peruvian and he misses his parents' cooking... and I grew to like it, too.

                  The papa a la huancaina was good but ridiculously overpriced for what amounted to a tiny portion of what is basically less than 1 potato with aji amarillo sauce on it..

                  The lomo saltado was actually quite good, and my bf is kind of an expert on this dish since it's his favorite. :) I meant to order aji de gallina, but I either made a mistake when I ordered (or the waiter did) and I got something like pollo saltado, which is like a stir-fry with chicken with spaghetti noodles and onions. It is a simple dish, and I wouldn't order it again - but for what it was it was decent. We got 1/2 pollo a la brasa to go that we ate later at home and it was quite good.

                  It was good, but not good enough that we’ve gone back yet. I’ve heard about Q'ero in Encinitas, but I can’t bring myself to pay a lot of money for Peruvian food when it’s so cheap to buy elsewhere (like where we used to live in NY) and at his parents' house. It's the principle!