Critic rating
(Good)
Neighborhood: Rockville
Cuisine: Latin American
Price: $$ ($15-$24)
Sound check: 77 decibels (Must speak with raised voice)
Cuban-inspired ropa vieja finds the winy shredded beef in an edible vase made with fried green plantains.
Our Review

2012 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012

“Salud! Salud!" cries the server as he deposits a round of pisco sours on the table. A sip of the foam-capped cocktail brings back fond memories of Peru, as does much of the food that follows. Pale pink tilapia in a bright yellow sauce of lime and shrimp is no ordinary sashimi; tamales filled with soft pork and crunchy peanuts prove sheer comfort. The lines near the semi-open kitchen with a half-roof of red tiles can be endless at rush hour, but the aroma of rotating chickens and the nurturing nature of owner Emma Perez suggest your patience will be rewarded. That chicken goes into a strapping stew, tender slices of breast meat in a creamy cloak of sauce enriched with Parmesan. Perez controls the occasional chaos in her storefront, stopping to admire a bambino here or share her secret for cooking sweet potatoes there. While the food comes out fast, all of it shows care. Cuban-inspired ropa vieja, for instance, finds the winy shredded beef in an edible vase made with fried green plantains. Perez notices we didn't order dessert and sends out two caramel-filled cookies. See how it's worth the wait?

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