that’s some good peruvian food

Tucked away in Clarendon, right near the Jiffy Lube and Hess gas station, is a Peruvian restaurant consistently rated by the Washingtonian as one of the area’s 100 Best Bargains. Costa Verde is the kind of restaurant you know that you should try, and certainly mean to, but for one reason or another never seem to get around to it – or at least that’s how it was for me until I went with a few friends the other night.

Entering the restaurant, I felt some trepidation at the fact that there were many table available, but only a few filled – an unlikely sight at most restaurants in Clarendon on a Friday night. But I suppose we were just ahead of the crowd, because as soon as a complimentary bowl of roasted corn kernels had been placed before us, the restaurant was quite full. The corn kernels are noted in most reviews of this restaurant, along with the accompanying salsa verde, and with good reason. Though a bit starchier than I anticipated – I suppose I was prepared more for something along the lines of a Corn Nut – they are surprisingly sweet and can hold their own against the salsa’s purée of chilies.

One person ordered a tamale as an appetizer, and was compelled to share it with the rest of the table – it was big enough to be a meal in and of itself – and served with with chicharrón, a succulent, tender, and somewhat fatty morsel of pork. We also shared a rich bowl of shrimp soup. The creaminess of the dish is well matched to the hints of saffron, garlic, and other seasonings – though a touch too salty for some. We devoured both dishes with delight while putting away a few bottles of Pilsen Callao.

The menu at Costa Verde contains nearly two full pages of dishes focused on seafood – granted many are simply variations on a theme – but their expertise at preparing fish was well demonstrated in my main course. A hearty filet of fish – moist and easily approached with just a fork – covered with sauteed tomatoes and sweet onions – topped with a few olives and a slice of hard boiled egg. Others enjoyed the restaurant’s approach to Peruvian barbeque – cuts of meat and chicken seasoned and roasted to perfection.

The meal closed with a round of desserts that were just as good as everything else! A creamy rice pudding, served warm, with hints of cinnamon and raisons. Tres leches, a butter cake that takes its name from a process of soaking in in three kinds of milk (evaporated, condensed, and whole or cream), which virtually gushes with sweetness. Finally, the flan, a rich custard custard dessert topped with a soft layer of caramel on top.

…and then came the bill. Wow, they certainly live up to the Washingtonian’s rating! The food here was just as good, if not better, than some of the dishes we’ve recently had at more prominent restaurants, and for a fraction of the cost. You’ll love the attention to detail Costa Verde gives all its dishes – and unlike me you shouldn’t wait to get-around to eating there – you should go immediately.

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