"Inka's Restaurant in Irvine, CA"
OMGosh!!! I travel a lot and I love hitting your recommended spots, but I found one you've missed. Inka's is a Peruvian hole in the wall buried in a strip center in Irvine, CA run by a mother and her two daughters. They opened about 13 years ago using their grandmother's recipes and what I tried on my first visit was awesome. I asked Ana (one of the daughters) what I should try. She told me her favorites and then gasped and said "I know! It's not on the menu, but you'll love it." It was a chicken cutlet in a special Peruvian lime sauce (juice) with spices that can only be found in Peru. My friends got their standing favorite, the Tallarain Verde Pollo which is lightly breaded chicken cutlet over pasta with a spinach, basil sauce that is better than any pesto I've ever tasted. The family actually has French and Italian roots as well which is not rare in Peru, but what Ana told us is that the spinach in her grandmother's recipe was primarily based on a lack of basil in Peru so there's a ton of spinach in it. Two cups a serving to be exact. Anyway, Ana is charming. The place is perfect for your show and the food was outstanding. I know you'd love it. We even got a Peruvian education on potatos. It was a great experience. Just to tempt you a bit further, you can end your meal with a Peruvian cookie that is basicaly a shortbread sandwich cookie with dulce de leche caramel filling. I know you don't really like sweets but they're not that sweet. They're just the perfect bite to end on. P.S. They even make their own juices from scratch -- Maracuya (passion fruit punch) and Chicha Morada (tropical fruit punch. Inka's Fine Peruvian Cuisine 16277 Laguna Canyon Road Irvine, CA 949-753-1276