Located just north of Touchton on Southside Boulevard is Pisco’s Restaurant which has served Peruvian cuisine for a decade now. You may have driven past this restaurant nestled among a small strip of shops and not thought too much about it. I’m definitely guilty of this and that’s why I’m sharing with you my experience – the food is too good not to know about it. If you love authentic Peruvian dishes, you will love the food here. The menu is robust, serving a variety of seafood, chicken, steak and ceviche that will satisfy anyone’s taste buds.
Pisco’s Restaurant has a very casual atmosphere but the wow factor is in the food. When you arrive, you will enter to a small bar, simple tables and a mural of Machu Picchu. You will be served a bowl of roasted, salted Peruvian corn. These are large, crunchy, roasted corn kernels that are like movie theatre popcorn – once you have one bite, you will want more. The best way to describe these are that corn snacks are to Peruvian, as bread is to Italian, clear soup is to Asian, and chips and salsa are to Mexican. Even if you’re skeptical about a bowl of corn kernels, I challenge you to try these tasty little snacks.
For the appetizer we tried the Yuca Frita ($4.85) which are fried yucca served with a Peruvian cheese sauce on the side. The portion size is enough to share with a small group of people. These are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. We added a little salt to the traditional Yucca Frita. Other appetizers include tamales ($4.95), kabobs ($8.35) and Peruvian corn on the cob ($6.25).
We also tried the Sweet Plantains ($4.35) as an appetizer (under the sides in the menu) and every bite was full of flavor. The plantains were served warm and had a hint of sweetness that even those who don’t love dessert will enjoy these. You can order the plantains sweet or unsweet.
If you love ceviche, you must try the ceviche at Pisco’s Restaurant. The Ceviche Mixto ($13.95) is a large portion of fish, shrimp and calamari that has been marinated in lime juice with onions and a chili sauce with potatoes and corn. I love how fresh, light and flavorful ceviche is and Pisco’s does not disappoint. You can also order the Ceviche de Pescado ($12.95) which is the fish only or the Ceviche de Camarones ($17.95) which is shrimp only. If you want to try this but not commit to a full entrée, I would recommend sharing as starter and then getting another delicious dish to share. Ceviche is fish that has been “cooked” by marinating in lime juice so it doesn’t sit well for leftovers – but was so good we didn’t have any!
For the beef lovers who want a little heartier dish than ceviche, look no further than the mouth-watering Lomo Saltado ($12.95). This was the show stopper. The a stir-fry of beef strips, thick tomato slices, onions and cilantro are served all on top of French fries. I was a little skeptical of the French fries but once the plate came out and I smelled the savory dish, all skepticism left. The sauce in the Lomo Saltado was so flavorful and the fries soaked up the sauce making every bite delicious.
Food comes out as it is prepared and the last dish to come out was the Arroz con Mariscos ($16.35). I can honestly say I’ve never seen a larger plate of food for one person. This huge portion of yellow rice with shrimp, octopus, calamari, mussels and cilantro was served hot and the shrimp were cooked perfectly. The dish isn’t spicy at all and you can taste the delicious seafood and cilantro in every bite. There’s a light white wine sauce in this dish and I would absolutely order this again.
The food is hands down the highlight at Pisco’s. The service was, challenging. We tried to ask questions about the different dishes but there was definitely a language barrier. The menu has detailed descriptions of the dishes as well as recommendations which made our choices a lot easier.
Bottom line – if you’re looking for casual dining, this authentic Peruvian fare is well worth the visit and great for date night casual eats or a small group outing where you can share multiple dishes. I’m always searching for local, hole in the wall places and this place is now on my list. The food is fresh and every dish carries its own unique flavor.
4131 Southside Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32216