Inka Grill House
Alpaca Chumichan, Avocado Cream, Fried Corn Crisps
Lomo Saltado alo Criollo – Stir Fry Beef, Tomatoes, Onions, French Fries, White Rice
Baked Guinea Pig, Papas Doradas, Criolla Salad
Plantain Pancake with 62% Peruvian Chocolate Sauce
Guayaba and Cocona Pancake with 62% Peruvian Chocolate Sauce
For all of its wonder and tourist traffic Aguas Calientes is no dining destination, the base camp for over 400,000 annual visitors to Machu Picchu instead doubling down on tourist traps and cheap souvenirs which led two sun-burnt visitors to Inka Grill House after hiking the Citadel.
Situated on the East end of town and empty at 3:00pm, the Chef and his staff of two watching televised Soccer from Spain on arrival, it was with friendly smiles that guests were welcomed and offered a seat, Wine and glasses already present but declined in favor of Bottled Water as menus were perused.
Offering a list of Peruvian Classics with occasional Mexican plates, the later likely catering to travelers unwilling to explore indigenous cuisine, it was after asking a few questions and walking through the kitchen to a restroom that makes it seem like the owner lives an attached apartment that two appetizers and an entrée were ordered, each taking quite a while to come out as the stone oven and antique stove had both been extinguished.
Watching the Chef and his assistant work while waiting, the wood-fired oven started with an old Samsung television box warming as Appetizers were prepared from scratch, it was alongside two warm Tortillas stuffed with grilled Alpaca that the trip’s first true Lomo Saltado arrived, the combination of Beef, Fries and Rice not dissimilar to Fajitas in terms of flavor while the makeshift Burritos showed why lean and chewy Pack Animals are probably not eaten in North America or Western Europe.
Mindful of time due to a train back to Cusco at 4:35, the oven slowly coming to temperature thanks to damp air from a recent rainfall, it was nearly an hour after sitting down that baked Cuy arrived with crispy Potatoes topped in creamy Dressing, the ‘picture worth a thousand words’ idea of a Pet on the plate expectedly not dissimilar from Rabbit beneath an herbal dry rub and certainly nothing craveable unless one has a cultural attachment to it.
Tricked by menu pictures into thinking Panqueque were slices of Cake, the Spanish speaker at the table only voicing her opinion several minutes later, it was with time as an issue that two rolled Pancakes were taken via Styrofoam clamshells to the train, the Plantain version lodging a Jack Johnson song in the brain for several hours while Guava and Coconut were a tropical treat whether eaten alone or topped in melted local Chocolate.