Monday, May 17, 2010

Cabanita Review

I spent lunchtime on Sunday trying all sorts of tasty ethnic food at the Taste of Wheaton, then spent the afternoon over at Brookside Gardens strolling around and enjoying the nice weather.  For dinner, I was feeling adventurous, so my boyfriend and I headed over to Cabanita on 11305 Elkin St. around the corner from the Royal Mile.  This place has been on my radar ever since Eatin in Wheaton mentioned it in one of his posts

The restaurant specializes in food from the Arequipas region of Peru.  The place doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside the walls were painted a cheery yellow color with photos of Arequipas decorating the walls.  The wall-mounted TV was tuned to a spanish-language sports channel, but it was later changed to a spanish music channel.  It was a little loud, but not too distracting.

They had a fairly big menu, with just about everything listed in both english and spanish.  We did notice that a spanish-only part of the menu listed 'cuy' as being available if you give them 5 days notice.  Cuy (pronounced 'kwee') is guinea pig, which is a fairly popular traditional dish in Peru.  Well, since we didn't give them 5 days notice, cuy wasn't in the cards for us, so we looked over the rest of the menu.  It wasn't quite as cheap as we had hoped - most of the entrees were in the range of $12-$18.

We shared a pitcher of chicha, which is a corn-based drink (non-alcoholic at Cabanita).  It resembed a red fruit punch with a little bit of a cinnamon taste.  I liked it, but the pitcher was way too big for two people to share.  We then ordered an appetizer of roasted sliced potatoes, which came with a 'mild sauce' that was thick and tasted a little like peanut sauce.  It was good, but not super-exciting.

Next we ordered two entrees to share.  First was grilled beef heart, which came with crispy sliced potatoes and a vareity of corn that has really huge kernels.  It was one of the cheaper dishes at $9.  I've never had beef heart before, but the grilled skewers of meat were tender and very flavorful.
The other dish we ordered was lomo saltado.  It was about $13 and consisted of roasted beef tenderloin, onions, and red peppers all cooked in the beef broth with french fries thrown in with them.  Peruvian people really like their potatoes, but that's okay because I also love taters.  The dish came with a side of rice, which was great for soaking up the broth.  Again, the beef was very tender, and all the vegetables and beef cooked together gave the dish a rich taste.
Our bill came to about $38, but you could definitely eat for less if you skipped the appetizer and maybe ordered a glass of chicha instead of the pitcher we got.  We just happened to get two beef dishes, but they had a number of fish dishes that also looked good as well as some chicken.

The restaurant was empty when we first walked in around 6, but a few families came in later in our meal, which livened things up.  Our waitress was friendly and helpful, and I got the impression that she would have been happy to help us out if we had any questions.  I give Cabanita two thumbs up!


  1. Wow, I must say I'm impressed with your adventurism! Not sure if I would have had the cajones to order beef heart...

  2. I hear you. The only way I rationalized it was deciding that heart is really just a muscle, which is the same as thing as most meat is made of. I definitely would not have been eating any kidneys or liver!