According to the PewResearch Hispanic Center, there were 557,000 Peruvians in the US in 2009. Luckily, their incredible food immigrated with them and with a massive population here in the Northeast, we are blessed with a preponderance of great Peruvian food opportunities well within driving distance.
330 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk, CT
Located in the same parking lot as Best Buy, this restaurant offers the best Peruvian fare in Fairfield County. Go here for the delicious meat dishes, including lomo saltado, savory strips of meat marinated in vinegar, salt and soy. It showcases the Asian influences in Peruvian cuisine. Also check out chaufas, the Andes’ take on fried rice. To drink, have a chicha morada. This purple beverage is made of corn and fruit, and is sweet with lots of cinnamon. The place can get crowded at times, but you should be able to find a seat fairly easily and the prices are reasonable. If you’re looking for an adventure after dinner, head over to Patel Brothers down the road. This massive Indian market will surprise you with its selection and authenticity.
163 North Main Street, Port Chester, NY
Port Chester is a culinary destination for much of the New York metropolitan area, with places like Tarry Lodge, the Willett House and many Hispanic offerings. One of the gems is Acuario. This Peruvian restaurant specializes in seafood, and the theme is anchored by the fish tanks scattered about the room, which makes for an interesting decor. Here is the best place to grab ceviche, a South American classic of fish and seafood marinated in acidic, lemon-based sauces. Choose the ceviche sampler if it’s your first visit, which gives you a chance to try the four flagship varieties: pescado tiradito (sashimi-type fish), shrimp, octopus and mixed. If you’re feeling hungry, go for my personal favorite dish, the parihuela. This massive, hearty soup is based on a slightly-spicy broth, which is then filled to the brim with flavorful seafood. Order the unofficial soda of Peru, Inca Kola, for your drink. This place is slightly on the expensive side, but won’t bankrupt you for lunch. Communicating with the waitstaff offers you a chance to flex your Spanish skills, but English-speakers should have no trouble.
In a town as insular as ours, it is easy to forget about the massive variety of cuisines available outside the city limits. Peruvian food is accessible and delicious, and offers a fun departure from the standard New Canaanite meal. Check it out.