Though it doesn’t rank with some of the better restaurants I visited in Peru itself, Inca’s – which opened a Scottsdale location last November, two years after launching the original Tucson locale – is still a fine choice for sampling this far-flung yet accessible fare. The restaurant is open, modern and lively, with gold hues on the walls, bright red striped Peruvian textiles on the tables, a welcoming bar, and images of Machu Picchu flashing across a video screen.
You’ll detect an Italian accent in the tallarin saltado ($14 for chicken; $15 for beef or shrimp; $16 for a mix) – expertly grilled medium-rare Angus beef strips in a fragrant marinade with chunks of tomato and red onion heaped atop silky strips of linguini. Lomo saltado ($17) is basically the same dish over potatoes with rice, and is just as good.
I was smitten with the spicy papa rellena ($9.50), a potato stuffed with seasoned ground beef, peppers and onions. I also loved the whipped potato in the causa rellena ($10), though the shrimp on top was smothered with mayo. However, I was let down by bland papa a la huancaina ($8), a dish of cold boiled potatoes in aji amarillo cheese sauce. Aji amarillo and aji rocoto peppers are mainstays in Peruvian cuisine, but the aji amarillo in this dish and the aji de gallina – pulled chicken in sauce ($12.50) – didn’t have the depth of flavor I’ve had elsewhere. Ceviche mixto ($17) – different from Mexican ceviche, with large hunks of fish and seafood marinated in citrus and onion – also could have been better.
Service can be frustrating and dishes are timed terribly, so temper your expectations. The good news: They shake up one of the best Pisco Sours I’ve had anywhere (upgrade to the $12 Portón Pisco), so have a drink and try to roll with it.
Inca’s Peruvian Cuisine
Address: 7325 E. Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd., Scottsdale
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily
Highlights: Tallarin saltado linguini ($14 for chicken; $15 for beef or shrimp; $16 for a mix), lomo saltado ($17), papa rellena ($9.50), causa rellena with shrimp ($10), Pisco Sour ($12)
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