A fantastic…let me say that again…a FANTASTIC Peruvian Restaurant in Hollywood.
Wow. All I can say is, this place has been open for six years, and I’m embarrassed that I’m only getting to it now.
The Peruvian I had at Los Balcones del Peru was meat-centric, as I expect from cuisines like Brazilian, Venezuelan, Argentinean or Colombia. The Cowboys (Gauchos) of that region are great cattle ranchers, so you Beef will be a heavy component of what you order. But what I like about the cuisines of Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia and Peru, is the blend of Spanish and Native influence on the cooking, which means marinating your Beef, Chicken or Pork…in fruit or fruit flavors. If for no other reason, let this innovation stand as one of the great wonders of the modern world.
Plantains, Corn, Tomatoes, Jalapeños, all blending together not to form a dull, colorless taste, but a veritable explosion of colliding flavors. On top of that, we have the Ceviches, the Seafood…uhhh, Stews? Soups? I’m not sure what to call them. But the idea is simple, take raw Seafood and cook it in (Yes!) a concoction of fruit juices. No heat involved, the Seafood is “cooked” by the citric acid of the lemons or limes therein. Los Balcones has many varieties of Ceviche to try out.
The service at Balcones was warm and friendly, as welcoming as you can get. Even though you’re in a nice restaurant, with full bar, all of it recently remodeled and spiffy looking, the mood is like being invited into someone’s home. The Waitstaff know the food they’re serving and can answer your questions about Peruvian cuisine. Top it off with one of the many Latin American Wines in stock (most, if not all, from Argentina).
On top of everything, on top of the many wonderful surprises this place offers is the best reason to come here. It’s just not that expensive, especially for a place of this quality. Even the glasses of wine were in the $8 range.
This is a great restaurant. This is a place to bring a date, have a bite after the movie (Arclight Hollywood is in sight of the front door), or just to have a drink.
But seriously, if you go in for a drink and don’t have some of the food, you are denying yourself some serious pleasure. You want this stuff. You need this stuff.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: First off, start with the Quinoa Salad. Now, this may be hard to wrap your head around, but the Quinoa Salad is a salad primarily made of grains, (I know, a salad without leafy green vegetables, but it came recommended and…well, whoever recommended is now a genius in my book). It has couple sprigs of asparagus, corn, tomatoes, crispy bacon and Maracuya sesame seed dressing. They top it all off with a poached egg, and…well, like Anthony Bourdian I’ve become quite the slut for eggs with dinner.
I followed it up with Bistek Patron, which is a grilled Rib Eye, lima beans, banana (plantains), Chorrillana sauce, and of course a fried egg on top. I am nothing if not consistent. But the explosion of colliding tastes I tastes I talked about earlier? Well, they continue through the salad on into the Bistek. I could have sworn I tasted hints of mango as I bit into that thing. Heavenly.
My pal Jonathan helped himself to the Seco De Carne, braised short ribs, and was equally amazed.
Best sign? When your sitting there, satisfied with what you had, and are already plotting to come back. That’s a mark of quality.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: At most (and this is stretching things) Los Balcones is in the sketchiest part of the Arclight’s Neighborhood, and like I said, that is stretching things. There is less than zero reasons to feel in danger, but you might feel a bit isolated from the hustle and bustle of Sunset Blvd.
It’s also near K&L Wines, which is a danger in and of itself, especially once we find out what the corkage is.
PARKING: This was an especially welcome surprise. Los Balcones validates for both the Kinko’s Parking lot just across the street, as well as the massive Arclight Parking Structure for 2 hours. This makes a huge difference. You can now park in the relative safety of the Arclight Structure, and still get your grub on for a very reasonable price. (I dropped $3 bucks when I was braced for $10.) That being said, its a bit of a hike back to the Arclight, but c’mon…you need the exercise.
You can still park on the street if you want to.
Los Balcones del Peru
1360 Vine Street
Los Angeles, CA
Tel: (323) 871-9600
Monday-Thursday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Friday: 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
Saturday: 4:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sunday: 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm