El Farol Peruvian Restaurant

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5534 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix

Brothers Walter and Gino Milicich from Lima, Peru, have taken over the storefront that formerly housed Sushi Mishima, transforming this once-dreary space into a clean, pleasant and remarkably affordable restaurant specializing in the delicious foods of Peru. This country is famous for its ceviche, and you'll see why after one bite of El Farol's delicious version, which is "cooked" in fresh lime juice with garlic, onion and cilantro. If you have the nerve, ask for the anticuchos, skewers of ultra-tender, marinated beef heart, served with pale green cilantro sauce. They're outstanding. But of course, for the true Peruvian experience, you must try Papa a la Huancayna, thick slices of boiled potato draped in velvety queso fresco sauce and spiced with aji amarillo (a medium-hot Peruvian chile). Entrees are just as appealing, particularly moist rotisserie chicken (so good with house-made french fries) and saltado -- a stirfry of top sirloin steak with onions and tomato. Keep everything festive with Peru's famous Pisco Sour (faintly reminiscent of a margarita but maybe better) or try a refreshing, non-alcoholic chicha morada, a bright purple drink made from purple corn, pineapple, cloves and cinnamon. For dessert, there's pale orange ice cream, made with lucuma, a delicate-tasting fruit. The only fault I've ever found with El Farol is that a few of the dishes mentioned on the menu are seldom available. I hope that problem is corrected soon. Otherwise, El Farol completely rocks. Lunch and dinner M, W-Su. Closed Tu. $-$$