Thursday, April 20, 2006

Chicken or Beef?
Mario's Peruvian Restaurant

I saw a shirt the other day that made me smile...and it looked a little like this just not as cute:

Image taken from Pasadena's Alternative Outfitters.

It's crazy...but give me some sticky Japanese rice, al dente pasta, freshly baked bread out of the oven, flour tortillas warmed on the stove, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, and I'm a happy camper! Add a little bit of meat, some veggies, dash of color, and it's a palate of deliciousness.

This obsession with starchy foods can be dangerous though. Eat too much, and you're full with a nice round Buddha belly. And it'll take days, weeks, sometimes months to get the poundage off. Lucky for me, it seems like I've got a pretty good metabolism. So for the time being, before I climb up the hill and am finally over it, I'm going to live it up and enjoy what life and the kitchen bring me.

I remember the first time I tried Saltado con Pollo. I was a poor college student, and I was happy to get away from campus dormitory food. A friend at the time took me down to El Pollo Inka in Gardena. I had never tried Peruvian food and didn't know what to expect. The covered windows of the restaurant made me wonder what I was getting myself into. But as soon as I stepped inside the warm and quite large space, I felt immediately at ease. There were salsa dancerslearning their 2 & 3, 1 & 4 steps on the dance floor. And when the menus came and I saw the simple and delicious mix of tender meat, fluffy rice, juicy tomatoes, and chunky french fries stir-fried together in the Saltado con Pollo, I knew that I would love it. And I did.

So when MS and I heard about one of EDnbM's recommendations for Peruvian food that rivaled El Pollo Inka, I knew we had to check it out. Mario's is a little hole-in-the-wall place that always looked a bit sketchy to me. Driving the Rossmore to Vine route many a days growing up, I would take note of the ever-changing mini-mall shops and eateries, construction of the new ArcLight where I have my 24 hour fitness membership, and the Music Plus transformation into Kinko's across the street. Times may have changed, but this little dive of a place on its awkward mini-mall island between Vine, Melrose, and Arden has seemed to weather the storm.

Both its interior and exterior designs are old, somewhat random, and not at all impressive. When MS and I found some street parking on Arden, we walked in to find a few tables and chairs that lined the inside of the restaurant. There was also a counter for customers to pick up their food on the go. We were seated by a friendly woman who delivered the special green sauce in a squeeze bottle that MS loves. He poured a huge blob of the green chili sauce onto his complimentary bread like it was guacamole. Somehow, I knew better and dabbed the side of my plate with only a few droplets. In a couple bites, MS started to sweat and take a few deep breaths. I couldn't stop laughing.

We looked over the menus and couldn't decide on the chicken or beef saltado. So we got both. The Saltado con Carne was a bit on the tough and chewy side, while the chicken was just the right amount of moistness and flavor. After a few bites, I was already full. I should've skipped the bread before loading up on the rice, the fries, and the chicken. At least there was enough leftovers for dinner!

Mario's Peruvian & Seafood
street: 5786 Melrose Ave | Los Angeles | 90038
cross street of rossmore (where it turns into vine)
tel: 1.323.466.4181
hrs: 11.30a-8p daily

El Pollo Inka
street: 1425 W Artesia Blvd | Gardena | 90248
tel: 1.310.516.7378
hrs: 11a-11p daily


rick james said...


i think marios is the BEST peruvian i've had in L.A. , none of others come close to their Lomo Saltado so far...

odd useless footnote:

in the movie, Ghost World, Enid leaves on the bus to nowhere, in front of .......Mario's... wooo....

jackt said...

mario's is definitely my favorite peruvian in socal. others recommend las quenas in noho but i much prefer mario's. the mariscos saltado is also excellent, btw.

also, be sure you get there early, because i've been there often where they lock the front door at 8pm and turn away a bunch of customers. they seated the people who were waiting for a table inside the restaurant, but a lot of the people waiting outside had to eat elsewhere!

now if mario's would only serve cuy, we'd all be in for a real eating experience!!!

Kirk said...

Hi Kristy - We sorely miss Mario's - or even EPI, the Peruvian Food(what little there is) in San Diego is terrible.

Jeni said...

I can't believe I still have not eaten at Mario's. I pass by the place EVERY day!

eatdrinknbmerry said...

So do you like EPI better? I'm always content with Mario's, just not the lines out the door. MS and i always pass this on the way to Respect.

i knew he would eat 1/2 the bottle of sauce haha. he loves it.

Daily Gluttony said...

Hey BoLA!

I've only been to Mario's once and thought it was okay. The food was way too salty, IMO. I do like El Pollo Inka tho'. fave Peruvian thus far is that new one on Vine across from the Arclight called Los Balcones Del Peru. You should try it!

BoLA said...

Hey all! Thanks for stopping on by.... I still prefer EPI over Mario's but that's cuz my stomach wasn't too happy with me after I ate there. muhahah! I haven't seen Ghost World yet, will have to try the Mariscos and Lomo Saltado dishes next time, and will most def have to check out DG's Los Balcones del Peru....sounds like my kind of place. ;)

neal gardner said...

Mario's is amazing.
Order the #26.

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