If you’ve never tried Peruvian food, don’t wait, go try it now. Fresh seafood, grilled meats, Chinese-influenced rice dishes, complex sauces and seemingly endless potato varieties, Peruvian is one of the world’s most distinctive, and delicious cuisines.
The food press points to Peruvian cuisine as the next “big thing,” but New Jerseyans who know where find it, have been enjoying authentic Peruvian dishes for years close to home. New Jersey is fortunate to have both first-generation Peruvian neighborhoods (Paterson, Passaic, West Orange, Kearny) with no-frills restaurants serving cheap and delicious Peruvian food, and more upscale Peruvian spots spreading out into adjacent areas (Montclair, Rutherford), introducing Peruvian cuisine to new demographics.
For typical Peruvian dishes, try cebiche or tiradito (citrus-marinated fish) served with sweet potato chunks and large kernel Peruvian corn; papas a la huancaina (potatoes in a creamy cheese sauce spiced with aji amarillo, a yellow Peruvian pepper); and anticuchos (tasty marinated organ meats like beef hearts and chicken livers, grilled on skewers). Tacu tacu is the Peruvian version of rice and beans. Marinated rotisserie chicken is common. Take it to the next level with a causa (cold mashed potatoes with aji amarillo, avocado and tuna) or a plate of Aji de Gallina (chicken in yellow pepper sauce). Some of our favorite Peruvian menu items are Peruvian-Chinese Chifa dishes, specialties like arroz chaufa (Peruvian fried rice) and Lomo Saltado (stir fried beef).
Wash it down with some chicha morada (a non-alcoholic drink of purple corn and spices), Inka Cola (sort of the Peruvian Mountain Dew), or something stronger like a Peruvian national beer – Cuzqueña is my favorite – or Pisco Sour, the national cocktail made with grape brandy (pisco), frothy egg whites and a spot of bitters.
Don’t see your favorite Peruvian? Share yours. I’ll add the most popular to the list, and to the map.
A Tour of the Amazing Peruvian Restaurants of Harrison and Kearny, New Jersey
New Jersey’s Inca Trail