The first thing I want to say is Machu Picchu is now one of my top 5 favorite restaurants in the city. Why not number one you ask? How can I possible choose a number one between Machu Picchu (Peruvian), Elephant Walk (French Cambodian), Kamiza (sushi), Tasca (Spanish) and Ariana (Afghani)? They are all so unique and different it’s hard to choose “the best one”.
Arriving on a Sunday night at 6:30pm there were only a few tables occupied in the main dinning room. By the time we left, it was filling up and it was a Sunday! I am so glad this place seems to be doing well. I sometimes worry about authentic restaurants, not in the main stream, “norm” or Boston. Many rarely seem to be busy and I wonder how they stay alive. It’s especially sad when the food is really really good, like Machu Picchu, and I am glad others seem to know about this place to. If you haven’t been, you have to go! Eating at Machu Picchu is truly a Latin American experience with authentic Peruvian food, complete with Peruvian artifacts, décor and Andean music. Even the wait staff wears uniforms that represent the traditional dress of Peru.
When we sat down we were given a complimentary ‘snack’. Most restaurants give bread, or chips and salsa if you are at a Mexican restaurant, but here each table is given cancha; giant toasted corn kernels. These had a slightly nutty and salty taste, very crunchy and absolutely delicious. The cancha is served with aji verde, a spicy light green cream sauce. Peruvian choclo, or corn, has giant sized kernels and is featured in many of the dishes here (also as a side with my ceviche). After the first bite, we knew we had chosen the right place to dine.
As an appetizer we shared the Choros a la Chalaca ($7). This is a traditional dish from Lima’s port area, Callao, where its inhabitants, “los Chalacos”, enjoy this recipe of Peruvian style mussels topped with a spicy lime sauce, tomatoes, onions and cilantro. This was to die for, one of my favorite dishes in Boston. So fresh and so flavorful.
We tried Peru’s national drink, Pisco Sour ($7). Pisco is a grape brandy produced only in certain regions in Peru, and Chile. The drink is made with pisco, lime juice, egg white, simple syrup and bitters. I was hesitant at first because of the egg, but the drink was actually quite good and satisfying to drink!
For my entrée I had the Ceviche Mixto ($16). The portion size was very generous. As with the appetizer we were given the choice of mild, medium or hot. We chose medium for both and I am glad we didn’t choose hot! The menu offers 6 different types of ceviche to choose from. The Mixto comes with scallops, shrimp, squid, octopus, white fish and a tangy citrus sauce with a nice little kick. I saw ‘’little’’, yet I was downing water. Jeremy didn’t think it was too much but I am more sensitive to spices than he is. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it! If you like spicy order it that way, otherwise I suggest the mild. This is certainly worth a try if you like ceviche or if you’ve never had it this would be the perfect place to try it. Everything, from the seafood to the limes onions and cilantro, is so fresh and full of flavor. This dish is served with a side of choclo (Peruvian corn), a piece of potato and a piece of sweet potato.
Jeremy ordered the Lomo Saltado ($12), a delicious and distinctively Peruvian dish consisting of juicy sirloin strips stir fried with onions, tomatoes and French fries, and served with a side of rice. The meat was so tender and juicy. When I asked our waitress about the marinade and sauces used in the stir-fry, she said there weren’t any. All the juices are natural juices from the steak, only spices are rubbed on it before it is cooked. A few minutes before it is completely cooked, the tomatoes, onions, and French fries are added in. I couldn’t believe it. It was melt in your mouth good. Jeremy devoured it. And the side of rice was HUGE. This was a good choice for a meat and rice-loving guy.
Note: The French fries are cooked in the same fryer as the breaded (gluten) dishes.
Stay away from the Aroz con Mariscos (rice with seafood) and any of the aroz chaufa, a Chinese-Peruvian style fried rice, both have soy sauce. Our waitress, in addition to being extremely friendly and on top of refilling our water glasses, was so knowledgeable and helpful about the menu and every dish I asked about, she knew every ingredient in it and how it was prepared. If you are unsure of something, just ask. But there are plenty of menu options. They also have a quinoa dish that they are ‘known’ for. I didn’t know this until after the fact, but I eat quinoa all the time and loved what we ordered, maybe next time!
We loved it and cannot wait to go back again. I’m not sure what we were expecting but this greatly exceeded our expectations in terms of the quality, flavor and uniqueness of the food, décor and friendly wait staff. Not only was this one of the best meals – and very affordable – we’ve had in a long time, it is also a healthy choice for dinner. Yes there is plenty of fried food choose from but we can’t eat that so that leaves us with fish, meat, quinoa, vegetables and all that’s fresh.
They also have smaller, more causal location right around the corner called Machu Chicken Charcoal Grill, and Mixtura, a combination of Peruvian Mexican and Salvadorian cuisines with an American twist. Personally I wouldn’t go there, not because I don’t think the food will taste good, but because it is not authentic and too Americanized. I am not a fan of American style Mexican food, I like the real stuff! But hey if you like burritos and sandwiches definitely check it out. BUT, I am not so sure how gluten free friendly they would be.
Location: 307 Somerville Avenue