We were first introduced to Peruvian cuisine when we visited El Tule in Lambertville, NJ. It was a special experience that was emblazoned in our minds; the food we had was unforgettable and left a lasting impression. We were very interested to try more, but our travels have not taken us anywhere near Lambertville or any other Peruvian restaurant in the Philadelphia area for that matter.
Luckily, the stars aligned and we had planned our visit to Doylestown, PA (which I wrote about a few weeks ago). Since we were going to be in the Doylestown area, we had to drop by Quinoa Peruvian & Mexican Restaurant, the sister restaurant of El Tule. It was on our list ever since our visit to El Tule. And I’m so very glad we did.
Quinoa is located in a small strip mall type building at 3710 N. Easton Road about a mile from downtown Doylestown. It’s been open for 3 years, owned and operated by the Egoavil-Anguino family whose mission is to offer an exceptional Peruvian-Mexican culinary experience in a family-friendly environment; delivering the flavors of Peru and Mexico and allowing you to experience Mexican & Peruvian culture without leaving the United States.
Similar to El Tule, the atmosphere of Quinoa inside is warm, welcoming, and vibrant. Quinoa is noticeably bigger and offers more dining room space than El Tule. The restaurant is spectacularly decorated with an astounding amount of authentic Peruvian artwork, artifacts, and collectibles. Our host Jack had several paintings specifically commissioned for the restaurant. They are truly stunning and must-see! The restaurant is a feast for the stomach and the eyes.
When we were seated, we were presented with two menus – the regular/everyday menu and the “Chef’s Choice” menu which included specials, seasonal dishes, and some new items they are testing out. Everything on the menu sounded intriguing.
Jack enthusiastically gave us the run-down on all of the items on the Chef’s Choice menu and made some suggestions. We willingly deferred to him and allowed him to choose for us. He did not steer us wrong at El Tule, so we knew we’d be in excellent hands at Quinoa as well. Besides, this was our 2nd time trying Peruvian cuisine and we wanted to be dazzled again!
Before eating, Jack had a surprise for us. He brought out a carafe containing the national drink of Peru — the alluring Pisco Sour. It was so refreshing and irresistible. I easily drank 3 glasses during our meal, but could have drank them all day long!
The restaurant is BYOB, so if you bring your own pisco, they will make this for you. A traditional Peruvian pisco sour cocktail is made by mixing Peruvian pisco with Key lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, Angostura bitters (for garnish), and ice cubes. Pisco is a kind of brandy and, luckily, you can find it at the Fine Wine & Good Spirits shop right down the road. Protip: do that!
The first appetizer to arrive at our table was the Tostone Fusion — fresh plantains fried and topped with fresh guacamole and Ceviche Limeno (Corvina fish marinated with lime juice and yellow peppers). So beautiful and delicious! Nothing more to say. A terrific, fresh start to our meal.
The second appetizer we were presented with was the Black Bean Quinoa Balls — black beans, chorizo, red peppers, onions, and quinoa rolled into balls, flash fried and garnished with jalapeño sauce and rocoto pepper sauce. I’ve got one word for you: WOW! If you go and they don’t have these on the menu – demand they make them. Hubby and I both agreed this is one of the best appetizers we have tried in some time. So fresh, flavorful and very colorful!
If it is one thing that I’m now really taking to heart about Peruvian cuisine, not only is it delicious but the presentation is exquisite and shows off the beauty of the ingredients. Once you eat with your eyes, and then with your mouth, you will be mesmerized by the elegance of this cuisine.
You’re probably not going to believe this is a Peruvian dish, but this is Gnocchi Andino — Peruvian yellow potato gnocchi, shrimp, Parmesan, and cream sauce made with the Peruvian aji amarillo chile pepper. A marvelous and unique fusion of Italian and Peruvian cuisines. It may seem far fetched, but Italians have influenced Peruvian food for a long time. There is a long history of Italians emigrating to Peru. If this dish is any indication… thank goodness they did! I was completely blown away. This is the best gnocchi I have ever had and hubby agreed that it was one of the most unique things he’s ever tasted.
The Gnocchi Andino may seem simple ingredient-wise and looks-wise, but it comes with big personality. The creamy pepper sauce was divine combined with perfectly cooked shrimp and phenomenal pillowy gnocchi… it’s a game changer! I hope they keep this on the menu and you can try it. Just reminiscing about it as I write this is making me wish I had a bowl of it in front of me now. FYI – this is coming from someone who doesn’t like shrimp. Just saying!
Our savory repast ended on a hearty note with the Peruvian Style Lamb Stew — tender pieces of boneless lamb slow cooked for 48 hours in a sauce of Peruvian Aji escabeche and Chicha de Jora. Served with Canary beans and white rice. The lamb was supple and pull-apart tender. The well-seasoned sauce added depth to the dish while the beans added a luscious creaminess. To me, the rice was unnecessary though. The lamb and beans were fabulous together. Enough said!
Do you think they were going to let us leave without trying dessert? Nice try! The first dessert we were presented with was Suspiro Limeno — an exquisite Peruvian dessert made of silky dulce de leche custard topped with fluffy spiced porto wine meringue. Topped with a cherry, of course. Absolutely heavenly.
The second dessert and last dish we sampled was Alfajores Andinos — Peruvian wheat cookies sprinkled with powdered sugar and caramel quinoa inside, a little strawberry sauce on top, and served with homemade vanilla ice cream! Talk about being thrown over the edge. Naturally, Peru uses quinoa in desserts too. It is one of the most versatile ingredients in that you can use it in every meal — from breakfast to dessert.
From beginning to end, our meal at Quinoa was nothing short of remarkable. While these dishes may seem simplistic, there is an underlying complexity which comes from the chef’s innate knowledge and nuances of the unique ingredients they bring with them from South America. Allow yourself to be enchanted by the flavors and food culture of Peru at Quinoa and El Tule in Lambertville. You will not regret it.
I’m now so entranced by the cuisine that it has moved higher-up on my list of favorite cuisines. And after watching the Chef Table’s episode of Central Restaurant in Lima, Peru, I now have dreams of traveling there some day to experience the culinary offerings in the country itself. Special thanks to Jack, his family, and staff for igniting this passion for a new cuisine in me. We will be back, I promise. Perhaps to try the Mexican side of the menu? 😆
Quinoa Peruvian & Mexican Restaurant
3710 N. Easton Rd
Doylestown PA 18902
As always, if you go, tell them Philly Grub sent you!