Peru is the epicenter for much that we enjoy today. The simple potato has its origins to the Andes and nearly every potato found worldwide can be traced back to Peru. The humble peanut made its way to Africa via the Spaniards, and vast variety of corn stems from the region. One variety of corn is an inedible purple kernel that the natives to Peru make into a sweet drink called chicha morada which can be found at a local restaurant, El Tesoro del Inca.
We stopped into El Tesoro recently after being tipped off to its whereabouts. It sounds so secretive, but when you check the restaurant out you will see what we mean. It is a bit hidden in a small shopping center off Beltline in Irving. If you are not paying much attention you will miss the spot altogether.
Once inside you will find a beautiful oasis that is family owned and operated. The English spoken is sparse, but the common language of food is well thought out.
El Tesoro serves up authentic dishes that often start with a cup of chichi morda and a bowl of fried corn that is extremely addictive. Think of that corn as a bowl of home-made Corn Nuts, only not as rugged on the tooth.
The cuisine itself has an influence of China, Spain and even Italy, brought to Peru via immigrants. 20% of the population of Peru comes from Chinese ancestry which makes their food oddly unique. Some of this influence can be found on the menu at El Tesoro.
An example of a dish that is tusán, or Chinese-Peruvian, would be their Tallarín Saltado which is sautéed noodles and beef tossed with soy sauce. Another is Lomo Saltado which is similar but served with steamed rice.
Very classic Peruvian is the ceviche, which can be order pescado, or simply fish, or marisco, or mixed seafood. We tried the marisco which was chockfull of bass, octopus and shrimp. The ceviche is one of the finest found in the DFW area, and it swims a bit in leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk. This is the stuff legends are made of, and is thought to cure hangovers. Some think of tiger’s milk as an aphrodisiac.
The tamales are authentic Peruvian style, stuffed with corn, chicken, boiled eggs and olives slices, and then wrapped in a banana leaf. Many dishes are topped with salsa criolla which is thinly sliced red onion marinated in lime juice. If you are not a fan, then tender strands of onion are easily tossed aside. This appetizer is large enough to share.
The star of our table was the Papa Rellena which is this fist-sized ball of mashed potato stuffed with seasoned beef, onions, tomatoes and olives, then topped off with the savory salsa criolla. The ball is lightly fried and ever so tender.
If you are looking for a little South American get-a-way but do not have the time or the updated passport, check out El Tesero del Inca. It is BYOB so bring plenty of Pisco or Cristal beer. Futbol fans prepare to stay and watch your favorite team knock-a-bout.El Tesoro del Inca | 733 N. Beltline, Irving | 972 313-9495