By Mitchell Nover
There’s no doubt in my mind that Peruvian cuisine is the star of the Latin food world. Widely varied and nuanced, it pulls influence from numerous cultures (Inca, African, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, and more) and regional cooking styles (Andean, Caribbean, Coastal Pacific, Amazonean). Unlike other one note (albeit delicious) Latin cuisines, Peruvian food offers layers upon layers of flavor technique that continue to surprise me the more I experience them. Luckily for me, and for all of us, those experiences are happening more and more often. Here in Miami, in addition to many other cities around the world, Peruvian restaurants continue to pop up on the dining scene, with each one offering up delicacies just different enough from the last.
Over the years, the MMTM team has reviewed a bunch of Peruvian restaurants around town. From Mel’s take on Sabor a Peru (RIP) and her love letter to La Mar to Caitlin’s 1111 write-up and my own post on Pisco y Nazca’s arrival in Kendall, our love of Peruvian food has been well documented. To that end, to help fill in the map of all the choices out there, I put together a quick round-up of four very different Peruvian restaurants in four very different Miami locations that all do their best to put their version of Peru on the plate.
Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar + LATAM Grill
Mitch’s take: First of all, Jaguar self identifies as a pan-Latin restaurant as opposed to straight up Peruvian. However, in my opinion, any restaurant that features more than three types of ceviche and dishes with copious amounts of aji amarillo is Peruvian in my book. This Coconut Grove mainstay (it opened in 2005) may not be the most innovative, but it’s a classic and constantly packed. Being able to stay in business for 10+ years in the Grove must mean something, people!
Standout dishes: As mentioned, this isn’t the most creative restaurant in the world. The menu won’t wow you, but it will definitely serve up a good, homestyle, comforting meal.
O’Lima Signature Cuisine
Bay Harbor Islands
Mitch’s take: O’Lima is a true undiscovered gem. Located on the quiet Bay Harbor Islands near Bal Harbour, this is the kind of place that seems unapproachable, but don’t let the upscale vibe fool you, this place is actually quite the opposite. Once inside, you can tell that O’Lima is actually a local joint with lots of repeat visitors, something that immediately put me at ease outside the confines of my traditional neighborhood comfort zones. Oh, and the Hora O’Lima happy hour doesn’t hurt either, offering lowered prices on all menu items. From 5pm to 7pm, Monday through Friday, the Hora O’Lima covers $7 house wines and prosecco, $4 beers, $8 classic cocktails, $10 specialty cocktails, hot and cold appetizers ranging from $10-$15, and entrees ranging from $15-$26.
Standout dishes: At O’Lima, expect modern, creative plating of classic Peruvian dishes that will put the dishes you know and love in a whole new light.
Pisco y Nazca Ceviche Gastrobar
Mitch’s take: After a hugely successful debut in Kendall, Pisco y Nazca has joined the charge in leading the new Downtown Doral movement. Just like its sister restaurant, Pisco y Nazca Doral brings a gastrobar twist to traditional Peruvian cuisine. There’s so much about this place that just oozes cool, so it’s no surprise that the restaurant has been packed from Day 1. The vibrant bar and dining room’s open kitchen views are perfect for a night of sipping, socializing, and savoring.
Standout dishes: Inspired by Peru’s top ceviche eateries, Pisco y Nazca serves up bold-flavored dishes and unique cocktails to boot.
Mitch’s take: Juvia is best described as sexy. From the views, to the decor, to the clientele, this place is the definition of “South Beach chic” (cliché, I know, but it fits). I highly recommend taking advantage of Juvia’s Prix Fix Lunch Menu. For an unbelievably affordable $23, you can get three courses of appropriate sized portions that won’t break the bank or your waistline. And the best part is that the extra cash in your wallet can be used to turn your lunch into a boozy brunch with bottomless beverages.
Standout dishes: A trinity of French, Japanese, and Peruvian cooking styles, Juvia’s cuisine is collaboration at its best with fresh ingredients and fresh takes on standard dishes making for a divine dining experience.