Peru, I miss you.
I wish you were not an 11 hour flight away from me here in Chicago. Is there a way to just snap my fingers and magically end up among your friendly people, stunning landscapes and awesome culture?
Well, since time travel hasn’t been invented yet, I’m going to do the next best thing; dine (frequently) at my favorite Peruvian restaurant in Chicago called Tanta. Renowned Chef Gaston Acurio has so beautifully brought the traditional flavors and dishes from a far away land pretty much right to my doorstep in River North. What is there not to like about this scenario and more so, I can skip the long flight and be transported back to one of my favorite destinations.
Everything about Tanta blew me away; the intriguing drink concoctions, the artistically presented food, the unbelievable service…it’s Peruvian hospitality at its best. I also loved that Tanta has a wide selection of vegetarian offerings many of which are already or can be made vegan.
Here are some of my favorites:
Drinks– You can not visit Peru (or a Peruvian restaurant for that matter) and not have the national drink, the Pisco Sour (pisco liquor, lime juice, simple syrup, egg white and Angostura bitters). One sip of Tanta’s version and I was reminiscing having my very first Pisco Sour in the lounge of our hotel upon arrival into Lima. One other drink that I absolutely fell in love with at Tanta is called the El Chingon (jalapeno tanteo tequila, fidencio mezcal, lime, rocoto ice and cilantro). Trust me, this drink with its hint of spiciness should not be missed…it is now my go-to drink there.
Appetizers– While the vegetarian ceviche I had at Tanta was different from the version I had at El Vegetariano in Lima, I was amazed by the flavors and use of various vegetables in Tanta’s version (enoki mushrooms, broccoli, avocado, hominy, onions, tomatoes, cucumber and the list goes on, all in a slightly spicy lime marinade). This was the description I used for the vegetarian ceviche of the picture I put up on Instagram: beauty in presentation, depth in flavor, heart from Peru. I think that sums it up nicely (and it was one of my most liked pictures ever)!
Entrees– Since Peruvian food is very heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine, it is no secret that the Chaufa (Chinese) quinoa dish was absolutely amazing. Tanta’s version was hands down way better in flavor, presentation and the mix of cooked and raw vegetables, than the version we had in Peru. In addition, the side dish called Pastel de Choclo (peruvian corn cake, mushrooms, choclo sauté) was the most delicious, warm, comfort food dish I have had in a LONG time. I didn’t have this dish in Peru, but you can bet that on many a cold Chicago night, I will be back for it!
Dessert– The alfajor (actually an Argentinian cookie) dessert was heavenly (short bread cookies, lúcuma dulce de leche, hot chocolate sauce and vanilla bean ice cream). I was thinking the short bread cookies would be heavy, but they were light and flaky and the vanilla bean ice cream was definitely some of the best I’ve ever had.
So, if you live in Chicago and you can’t escape to Peru just yet, you are in luck….Tanta is your next best option. Trust me, I’ve done both!
Please Note: I was invited to a private dinner at Tanta; all opinions are my own.