Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Day of Restaurants

We don’t eat out as much as we used to. There’s no specific reason for that. It’s just that we’ve both been watching our diets…trying to eat a little healthier and exercise more, and besides, Maribel likes to cook. But there was a day recently when we set out on an early morning walk and didn’t return until later that night. In between we ate at three of our favorite restaurants.
They’re not fancy restaurants…Chiclayo only has a couple of upscale restaurants and they’re located in the better hotels. Personally I avoid fancy restaurants. All the elegance is wasted on me and sometimes makes me uncomfortable. I can’t relax when I’m sitting in surroundings that resemble a posh Hollywood movie set or Smithsonian museum display. And I’m uncomfortable reading a menu containing offerings that I can’t pronounce and have never heard of. I usually try to fake the order by authoritively mumbling and casually pointing to the item on the menu. Thankfully the waiter usually doesn’t embarrass me by asking questions because he’s already figured out I’m a rube. Then he’s back with the wine bottle. I always dread that after he removes the cork he’s going to make me do the sniffing and tasting routine but usually he doesn’t …he knows I don’t know good bouquet from road-kill odor. So I nod in approval as if I’m familiar with every wine bottle label that’s ever been printed and he pours.

I like the kind of restaurant where you sit in a booth and a gum-chewing middle-aged woman wearing an apron comes up to you and says, “What’ll ya have hon?...we got pot roast and meatloaf on special today.”  You just know you’re going to get good food and plenty of it and the coffee will keep coming. And if you happen to drop a knife on the floor so what? Nobody’s going to ‘turn up their nose’ at you. Anyway…on to our favorite restaurants.

For breakfast Balta 512 gets the nod. It used to be Romana and everybody still calls it that. It’s one of the oldest restaurants in Chiclayo, having been in business at the same location (Balta Avenue) for over 40 years. It’s clean, the service is good and so is the food. The waiters don’t call me ‘hon’ but they do say “Buenos dias Señor Tomasz.”

The menu lists typical Peruvian fare but what I go there for is desayuno Americano (American breakfast). What comes on the plate is always a surprise. One morning it will be toast with jelly and scrambled eggs with ham. The next morning could be French toast with fried eggs and ham. I suppose I could specify what I want but I like being surprised.  

La Cumbre is the choice for lunch. This restaurant has been open for two years on Santa Victoria Avenue. As of this writing their hours are 11:00am to 3:00pm but there is talk of expanding. As with all of the restaurants we patronize, La Cumbre is clean and quiet with good service and food. The menu is somewhat limited, but what they do they do well. Salads are fresh and crisp, and if you like fish; either fried or grilled La Cumbre is as good as it gets in Chiclayo.

Okay, we’ve had eggs for breakfast, fish for lunch, and now it’s time for some meat, and that means Joshe Grill, located at the intersection of Pacasmayo and Avenue Grau. Here you will find the best ‘lomo fina’ (tender loin) in town. We’ve been eating at this restaurant for years and have never, ever had a bad meal or experience. Even when the restaurant is full it is never noisy, and the service and food quality doesn’t deviate.  They’ve expanded and remodeled recently and I have to admit that I miss the feeling of coziness in the ‘old place’, but they have managed to retain a feeling of intimacy in the new setting.  

If you’re visiting Chiclayo be sure to try one or all of these restaurants. Maybe we’ll see you there.

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