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Ceviche is the specialty of this tiny Peruvian cocina, but be sure to start with excellent mussels on the half-shell, dressed with a tangy salsa jacked with aji limo peppers. Grilled beef heart and traditional lomo saltado are worthy turf selections, if you're not into surf. Souffl-like bavarois de guinnes are, appropriately, ethereal.


Teaser: Ceviche is the specialty of this tiny Peruvian cocina, but be sure to start with excellent mussels on the half-shell, dressed with a tangy salsa jacked with aji limo peppers. Grilled beef heart and traditional lomo saltado are worthy turf selections, if you're not into surf. Soufflé-like bavarois de guinones are, appropriately, ethereal. Open daily.

The Peruvians haven't played in a World Cup since the '80s, but El Sanguchon's ultra-authentic Peruvian home cooking scores major points. Everything is made from scratch, including the pillowy bread with crackly crust that accompanies the tamale con pan y salsa criolla ($5.99), a good example of a major tenet of Peruvian cooking: starch on starch. The carbs were sided with the classic condiment of thinly sliced raw red onion (made milder by washing the slices under cold water) marinated in lemon and cilantro. 

Likewise, french fries and rice are served with thin, tender steak and eggs in the bistec a lo pobre ($13.99). If you fancy fish, the pescado a lo macho is a cornmeal-crusted catfish wonder, smothered in golden cream sauce teeming with scallops, shrimp and fresh calamari. 

Chile has the edge on wine in South America, but El Sanguchon serves a delicious Peruvian Chincha Valley semisweet vintage, Borgoña, ($4.50, glass; $24, bottle) that pairs well with leche asada ($2.50), broiled custard with sweet caramel syrup glaze. 

Though Peruvian food hasn’t quite made it to the haute cuisine circuit, restaurants offering the South American fare have cropped up all over Orlando; Limeña Chicken in the Winter Park area offers one of the most exhaustive all-Peruvian menus in Central Florida.

Selections cover the gamut of Peruvian food, from aguaditos ($7), a hearty cilantro-based soup brimming with chicken or fish, to a melting amber-hued tamale ($4), stuffed with earthy black oil-cured olives and shreds of spiced chicken, to the ubiquitous Peruvian lomo saltado ($8.75), a stir-fry of thinly-sliced beef, tomatoes and scallions piled atop French fries. Limeña’s lomo left much to be desired – it was served lukewarm and the meat was tough. The accompanying rice, however, was aromatic and perfectly portioned.

It’s advisable to prime your digestive system for a few days prior to visiting if you plan to order the jalea ($13), a heaping mound of deep-fried fish and shellfish. It’s not exactly diet food, either, so if you’re counting calories, head instead for one of the ceviches ($10 for fish, $12 for mixed seafood).

Finish the meal with a small cup of lucuma ice cream ($2), apricot-colored with the fragrance of raisins and honey and a radiant aftertaste that lingers long after the ice cream has been demolished.

Limeña Chicken is quiet on the weekdays, but Friday and Saturday the band walks in and plays until 2 a.m. The service is friendly, though a bit leisurely. Be prepared to remain flexible: On any given day they may not have what you order, but rest assured, whatever your order, it will be Peruvian.

You no longer have to spend the exorbitant cash to “eat around the world” at Epcot. Urban Café in Lake Mary is a poster child for international cuisine, boasting “Grecian Café” on their sign and screaming “AMERICAN BREAKFAST” in neon letters in their storefront window. And it doesn’t stop there – not only are Europe and North America represented at Urban Café, but South America, too. The first page of the menu is a list of classic Peruvian dishes: lemony ceviche ($9.99) and arroz chaufa (Peruvian fried rice with chicken, $9.99) to name a few.

The juxtaposition of these three nationalities may seem strange at first, but Urban Café pulls off each with international flair and respect for differences of culture. The gyro sandwich ($7.29), whose spicy beef-and-lamb strips unfortunately came swimming in tangy tzatziki sauce, is served with a side. Advice: Pass up the Lay’s and order potato salad. Chunks of potato are bathed with the traditional mayonnaise mixture, but the addition of fresh Greek oregano makes the usually-predictable dish a surprising treat. On the other side of the Atlantic, the seco de carne (literally “dry soup,” chunks of meltingly tender braised beef with potatoes and carrots in aromatic gravy; $9.99), was perfection, with lingering notes of cilantro and spice.

You can’t go wrong at Urban Café, unless you show up after 3 p.m., when the tiny restaurant has closed for the day. Whether you order two eggs over easy with bacon and toast ($5.75), the refreshing spinach melt pita ($7.29) or a pineapple-flavored Inca Kola ($1.99), Urban Café delivers a multicultural breath of fresh air.

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