Inca’s Cafe is located in Carrollton just off George Bush and Josey, in the same strip center as the Target which you will find on the corner. What looks to be very ordinary, and possibly even mundane from the outside, turns out to be a whimsical ride through Machu Picchu in Peru. Inca’s serves up some pretty terrific Peruvian dishes, often with a side of live music to keep with the beat of the theme.
Owned by Candy Vera, who purchased the restaurant from her mother. “In 2003 my mother started the restaurant using all of our family recipes. My grandmother’s, and further back” said Vera. Candy Vera was working for Merrill Lynch at the time as a broker, and at one point invested in the restaurant to help take it to another level. She eventually bought her mother out, and now runs the restaurant by herself. She talks of expansion, catering (which she does now to a happy list of clientele) and even going back to school for some culinary lessons to help elevate those old family recipes. Not that she needs to, because what we found was thoroughly delicious, and reminiscent of my travels to Peru.
Vera, who migrated with her family fro Peru back in the 80’s, is a huge fan of ceviche, and she makes a particularly wonderful Peruvian version replete with yucca, yams, corn, finely sliced red onions and a garnish of red onion. Her ceviche is extremely fresh, and cut into large chunks for a meaty bite with each forkful. “Mexicans take pride in their tacos, and we are proud of or ceviche. It is a true Peruvian dish, it is a flag”.
As we sit and chat I spoon a bit of the darker of the two sauces supplied at our table as a condiment for the dishes we are eating. It has a definite heat that brings a bit of tears to my eyes. “The red one is the spiciest. It is called rococo, and is made with the pepper of the same name, but also has a bit of habanero. At first you don’t feel it, but give it a second and it will give you a huge kick”. The green salsa, the Aji De Huacatay is a bit mild, made with Huacatay and Aji Amarillo peppers, garlic, wine and mint. It tastes more like a familiar Indian chutney, and is creamy.
A few happy appetizers are the Pappa Rellena, which is fried mash potatoes stuffed with chicken, black olives and egg, served with criolla sauce. A criolla is a sauce made with Salsa criolla onion, red peppers, garlic, tomato, vinegar and oil. And of course there are the requisite empanadas and Peruvian style tamales.
We sampled a few dishes that included Lomito Saltado, which I thought to be similar in some respects to a Canadian poutine, but obviously with more flavor and color. This dish has tender strips of sautéed lean beef cut in pieces, mixed with sautéed onions, tomatoes and French fries, served with rice and a fried egg. I would definitely order this again. Also listed under beef selections we found a fantastic goat dish in the Cabrito de Seco, which is a tender goat stew served with rice, Peruvian beans, steamed yucca and sarsacriolla (a Peruvian onion relish).
I was particularly happy to find a housemade chicha morada, a special Peruvian non-alcoholic drink made with purple corn, cinnamon, apple and pineapple. This may be kick up with a bit of Pisco Porton, the house choice of Pisco, which is a Peruvian brandy that is quite delicious. They also make a mean Pisco Sour, a cocktail made with limes and egg whites.
Inca’s Cafe is a delightful family run restaurant in the Peruvian tradition, with bold Peruvian favors.