Image: Pescado a Lo Macho
Last Updated: January 2022
Current Status: They are open for dine-in service (though no link for take-out or delivery, it might be available). Weather permitting, they may have outdoor seating.
Overview: The large room with lots of ornamentation sets the scene for dishes from South America, primarily Peru. The long bar invites locals to hangout or those from farther afield on busy nights. There is a residual feel of the old Chi-Cha Lounge that previously held down this spot. Owner Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld decided to trade in the lounge for a restaurant, though the louche artwork gives a nod to the past while family pictures from his youth in Ecuador lean toward a more family-oriented dining experience.
He recruited young talent to jump start the project, luring a chef away from newly-Michelin starred Xiquet. The chef, Cristian Granada, is from Colombia, and he appears to have taken over from opening chef Eugene Perret after only a couple months without much change to the menu. The standards are well represented. Ceviches are sharp and fresh and the calamari garners praise. The Lomo Saltado is decent, though we prefer thicker fries that can withstand the sauce. The Pescado a Lo Macho of Mahi Mahi under a spice-inflected cream sauce with sweet potatoes and big chunks of red onion is worth a return trip. Both owner and chef have said they would like to stretch the menu, but so far it has remained stable. Perhaps when supply chains loosen and seasons change, they will be more playful.
There is an energy to the place, even on a slow night. Talkative bartenders do variations on Pisco Sours and the staff bring dishes as they are ready from the kitchen. The wine list is limited for now, but the choices cover the essentials.
D.C. has been lucky to have a number of very good Peruvian spots open in the last few years. El Secreto de Rosita, nestled into a quiet stretch of U Street, is a worthy and friendly replacement for the very good Nazca Mochica to the south in Dupont that became a pandemic casualty (and we are hopeful for its return). El Secreto is also a good spot to start or finish a night.
Washington Post: Tom initial review was generally favorable.
Washingtonian – no coverage yet
DonRockwell.com – no thread yet, but old Chi Cha thread notes the food was better than you’d expect.
Eater.com – Preview