Editors' pick

El Chalan

South American
$$$$ ($15-$24)
When you step down the stairs to this long-running Peruvian restaurant, you leave Washington at the door.
Mon-Fri 11:30 am-3 pm and 5:30-10 pm; Sat 1-10:30 pm; Sun 1-8 pm
Farragut West (Blue and Orange lines)

Editorial Review

2006 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 15, 2006

Can't get to Lima? Your best alternative is a meal at the cramped, noisy, engaging El Chalan. The underground restaurant with the low ceilings and religious art has been pouring pisco sours and peeling potatoes -- which go into seemingly every other dish -- for a quarter-century, a small miracle in the here-today-gone-tomorrow restaurant business. An address near the World Bank helps explain all the Spanish in the air, while the kitchen, rather than the matter-of-fact service, is responsible for the many occupied tables. An appetizer of seviche -- tender shrimp and squid made colorful with sweet potatoes and corn -- is big enough to qualify as a whole meal; among entrees, sauteed beef in a jumble of potatoes, onions and tomatoes (lomo saltado) and shredded chicken in a faintly sweet peanut sauce compete for a diner's attention.