I was planning on just eating somewhere near the airport and taking it easy, but I realize I have enough time to make it the city and back. I’m not in Chicago often and have really been wanting to get to Frontera Grill and eat more of Rick Bayless’ food.
In the USA
I have probably visited more Peruvian restaurants outside of Peru than anyone on planet earth (it’s debatable, but maybe inside of Peru too). In most cases I am left disappointed. The primary reason is the lack of access to high quality ingredients, primarily aji chiles, as well as proper substitutions for limes and other fruits, though at times, the entire concepts may seems off. That is not the case at Ricardo Zarate’s Mo-chica in Los Angeles.
In 2005, Gaston Acurio had just opened his second restaurant in Lima, Peru. It was called La Mar. It was a modern rendition of a typical Limeño lunch only cevicheria, like Sonia, a closed door Chorrillos haunt that Acurio had helped rediscover with his television show, Aventuras Culinaria.
Tired of the banking industry, native Ponceño Alejandro Vélez Blasini set off for the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. After a successful run with a tapas bar, in mid-2009 he opened Archipeilago, a restaurant on the sixth and seventh floors of a building overlooking Ponce’s Parque de Bombas and Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe on Ponce’s Spanish style plaza. The rooftop view is stunning, one of the best of any restaurants I’ve ever seen. The town square below glows at night.
About thriteen years ago I randomly went into a restaurant that just opened in Old San Juan. It was a Latin fusion place long before you could find a ceviche bar in Ohio. There was live jazz music, black and white tiles, a vibrant bar area, and an overall feeling that you had been swept away into Havana in the 1920’s. The restaurant was called the Parrot Club.
Latin Fusion restaurants are common in New York and other major North American cities. While there are many traditional restaurants that focus on a particular country or region such as Peru or Oaxaca, the majority of Latin restaurants that go upscale are widely traveled. They pull dishes, cooking styles, and ingredients from so many different places in the region that as a result you are unable to tell exactly where the food and the chef is based or comes from.
I have been consistently disappointed with Mexican food since moving to New York. While there are plenty of Mexican restaurants in every neighborhood, the majority are as basic and uninteresting as your basic Chinese take out. Some even serve Chinese food. I know there are a lot of gems out there; I just havenâ€™t found them as of yet. Until now.