Machu Picchu, is a peruvian restaurant in the Northeast Plaza. The prospect of eating here was fairly exciting because we were hungry and tired, but also because neither of us had had peruvian cuisine before. In fact, this was supposedly the first peruvian restaurant in Atlanta, and I can say it’s certainly the first one I’ve seen. My excitement immediately redoubled when we opened the door and saw they do it up in style here…
|The welcoming alpaca.|
The restaurant, while not supremely fancy (drop ceilings), was nicely appointed. Besides the alpaca, the walls and display cases showcase a variety of peruvian art and artifacts. The also have a kind of indoor pergola and artificial plants to help break up and soften the space. The restaurant had a pleasant enough feel. More importantly, the clientele was entirely of latino descent. This was the first good indication to me that we were going to get some tasty authentic food.
|I timed shot this so as not to creepily take photos of families eating; the business was steady while we were there.|
We started out with some Inca Kolas and a beef empanada. Both were excellent. The Inca Kola was first created in Peru in 1935 (see Wikipedia article here. Be sure to read the various slogans from years past), and is quite tasty, with a flavor reminiscent of cream soda, but lighter and less chemical-tasting. It’s made with lemon verbena and I dig it. It’s a shame I’m not a soda drinker. Actually scratch that. It’s a good thing I’m not a soda drinker, because I would have a serious problem on my hands if I was. I’m already jonesing for this stuff and it’s only been two hours.
|The golden cola|
The empanda was heavenly – flavorful and spicy, but not spicy at the cost of taste. The dipping sauce was spicy, though. Spicylicious. A great pairing. In short, it was amazing and I was kind of bummed we were splitting one, because I wanted it all.
|Empanada of deliciousness and the dipping sauce of gods.|
For entrees, we ordered arroz con mariscos (peruvian-style seafood and peppers on a bed of yellow rice, $12.50) and picante de mariscos (seafood in a creamy sauce, $12.95). Both come in large and small sizes. We ordered two smalls and hoo-boy, I simply can’t imagine eating any more. Larges are definitely for sharing, in my opinion.
|Picante de mariscos in the front and arroz con mariscos in the back.|
Adam and I enjoyed both dishes thoroughly. The picante sauce was subtle but had depth. The seafood in both dishes was cooked to perfection. The creaminess of the yellow rice was incredible and was the perfect complement to the seafood. I would love to come back and try their ceviche.
There was kind of a long wait for our food and my dish came out significantly earlier than Adam’s. We weren’t really worried about it, just kind of tired (have I mentioned we were tired?), but we must have looked incredibly bored because our very friendly waiter gave us a second round of Inca Kola on the house, an unnecessary but sweet gesture.
|Mazamorra morado, with cinnamon on top.|
There was a surprising variety of desserts to choose from, including the dessert of the day, a delicious sweet milk caramel kind of thing. However, the mazamorra morada (purple corn pudding) completely arrested my attention. I first heard of purple corn at Quickly’s, an asian shop farther up Buford that we’ll get to here one day. I assumed it was an asian thing but in hindsight, since BuHi is such a melting pot, it only makes sense that a shop would include flavors of other ethnic groups that live nearby and would patronize the shop. Anyway, finding out it was actually a peruvian thing was very exciting and we had to get it. Our waiter recommended that we have it hot, so we did. It was very tasty! It was a bit like eating warm jelly, but not overpoweringly sweet like actually eating spoonfuls of jelly would be. It was sweet but subtle and the cinnamon went with it quite well. I would highly recommend giving this dish a try, and look forward to having it again sometime!
|Don’t believe the expression – he loved it.|
All in all, we give Machu Picchu four stars. It’s definitely a higher pricepoint than some of the places we’ve been doing lately, but we didn’t come away with the feeling that it was overpriced, just that we couldn’t afford to eat here every day. The food was great and the atmosphere was nice. The waitstaff was all smiles and the place clearly does a lot of business, considering what we saw during off hours. I suppose that’s why it’s been in business since 1993!
Machu Picchu Restaurant
3375 Buford Highway NE, Suite 1130
Atlanta, GA 30329