A couple of weeks ago, Steve, Carlos and I met our good friends Larry and Joe at El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant in Rockville. Larry mentioned that restaurant next to El Mariachi, La Limeña is also very good and definitely worth a visit. Larry’s going to kill me for going without him, but last night, Steve and I decided to make a stop on a whim.
It is essentially a Peruvian restaurant with some Cuban dishes thrown in for good measure. Not long on atmosphere, the restaurant is cozy, bright and clean with a large open counter that looks in on the kitchen. They only use plastic-ware, plastic forks, plastic plates et al.. but what they lack in style they more than make up for in substance. Service is incredibly friendly and helpful and the food is DIVINE.
We started with the Ceviche Mixtos. White fish, squid and shrimp are marinated in citrus with herbs and peppers. Here it is served with a chunk of sweet potato, a small ear of corn and homemade corn nuts. It is without a doubt the best ceviche I have ever tasted. Perfectly balanced, spicy, tart and refreshing. I would have the stuff for breakfast.
The Pollo a la Brasa (Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken) is good but certainly not the best Peruvian chicken around. However, the sides are incredible. Try the Cuban black beans; A revelation of creamy and whole black beans with bits of pork. They are soul satisfying and a heaping portion to boot. French fries here are extraordinary. Essentially steak fries, they are greaseless and full of great "potato-ness". Great when dipped in the complimentary sauces which are brought out. Both are mayonnaise based, one mild and the other quite snappy and spicy. La Limena is known for its Anticuchos (Beef Heart) We did not try them on this trip but will the next time we go in.
The star of the show for us was the Pollo ala Parilla. A marinated half a boneless chicken is pounded flat and grilled skin side down over a charcoal grill. It was crisp and moist and utterly delicious.
Everything here is made to order so you may have a small wait for your food. All of the ingredients are fresh. They do not employ the use of freezers so you know you are getting the best possible meal at that time.
Save room for dessert. We had the Alfajores, which are two anise flavored shortbread cookies with a thick layer of caramel sauce in between. Truly unbelievable. Other items in the dessert case looked equally enticing and when you consider that the owner provides the desserts to all the other Peruvian restaurants in town, you can rest assured that no matter what you choose it's going to be good. I'm already looking forward to my next visit.
La Limeña 765-B Rockville Pike (in Ritchie Center), Rockville
Kitchen hours: Open Monday-Thursday, 11-9, Fridays and Saturdays 11-10, Sundays 10-9