Rinconcito Peruano

Traditional and affordable Peruvian fare is a downtown hit

Alexandre Moreira
Inside of Rinconcito Peruano

Through an unmarked door and up a flight of battered stairs in one of the shabbiest parts of town – Santa Ifigênia, in deepest darkest Centro – this simple-as-possible Peruvian restaurant has become a word-of-mouth sensation over the past year or so. It’s a million miles, in more ways than one, from the handful of swish Peruvian and Peruvian fusion restaurants that have opened in 2013 – think Osaka and Maremotto – and from upscale La Mar in Itaim, brainchild of the celebrity Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio, whose Lima restaurant Astrid & Gastón, picked up Restaurant magazine’s Best Latin American Restaurant award in September 2013.

Rinconcito Peruano is all about cheap, cheerful, deftly cooked food in no-frills surroundings, and it does absolute justice, with its blend of utter simplicity and more complex flavour combinations, to Peru’s magnificent national cuisine. And if you’ve already acquired a taste for ceviche – fresh raw fish and seafood, ‘cooked’ in a lemon/lime marinade – then get ready to be ecstatic. The ceviche here is fresh, firm, generously proportioned and served the traditional Peruvian way – with ají chilli, red onion and toasted corn, on a bed of potato and sweet potato.

Alexandre Moreira
Chaufa de mariscos (seafood fried rice) 

Start with a cold bottle of beer and a fresh, tender pile of the fishy speciality: we ordered a family-sized portion (RS$98) last time we went, and excellent as it was, it was way too much for four. A small or medium-sized serving (RS$27, RS$52) will do nicely, especially since it’ll leave room for some of the menu’s other delights: classic ‘lombo saltado’ (R$17), a jumble of flash-fried strips of tender beef, peppers, crunchy onion and fat potato chips, served with rice; Peruvian-style breaded, fried chicken (‘pollo broaster’, R$14, with fries); or just a heap of simple but delicious chaufa rice – egg-fried rice with your choice of slivers of meat, chicken or seafood (shrimp, octopus and squid, R$17).

Of the filling soups, the Minuta (R$12), is our top tip: a subtly savoury, soul-warming broth enriched with milk, harbouring a tangle of angel-hair pasta at the bottom of the bowl. Just for fun, finish up with one of the colourful, children’s-party-style desserts, which are of the wobbly, jelly-and-custard variety: vanilla blancmange with jelly (gelatina com flan de baunilha, R$3), or jelly with a milk mousse (mousse de leite, R$3).

Night-time in this area is far from salubrious – in fact, it’s not recommended at all. These are mean streets often haunted by crack-smokers, and night-times round here are a queasy blend of deserted roads and very unsavoury characters. Come in the daytime, when the area is busier (but with your wits about you arriving and leaving), and find yourself a table on Rinconcito Peruano’s breezy, open-air mezzanine floor upstairs, for a long lunch featuring some of the finest, best-value food you can get in São Paulo. We like it that much.

By Claire Rigby

Rinconcito Peruano details

Address Rua Aurora 451

República, São Paulo

Telephone (11) 3361 2400

Main courses from R$ 17 to R$ 98

Open noon-3pm Mon; noon-11pm Tue-Sat; noon-9pm Sun


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