Fausto Garces gives South American transplants more than one reason to visit his restaurant, Don Churro Café. In addition to authentic dishes from Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, and Spain that earned Don Churro Cafè recognition as one of the region's Best New Restaurants by Northern Virginia Magazine in 2009, the restaurant entertains sports fans by broadcasting soccer matches from South American nations. Diners gaze at twin plasma televisions or a pull-down projection screen as athletes play the sport known as "fùtbol" in Latin America, and as "dangerous" in antique stores.
The dining room's yellow walls and floors are offset with royal-blue wall sections, matching seat cushions, and a bright painting of Quito––Fausto's mountain-clad Ecuadorian homeland. Illuminated by hanging light fixtures, lime-marinated ceviche and crispy plantains cleanse the palate before entrees rife with grilled pork belly, chorizo, and certified Angus beef arrive. Fresh, marinated fish filets come grilled alongside rice and patacones or buried beneath a creamy signature seafood sauce.
At Genghis Grill, cooks stir-fry more than 70 fresh ingredients to make healthy, flavorful bowls loaded with proteins and vegetables. Diners can mix and match ingredients to create customized feasts, or choose signature dishes such as the Thai Chicken bowl with chicken, veggies, and udon noodles in red curry peanut sauce. Nutrition-focused heart-healthy bowls, developed with the help of a dietitian, feature flavor combinations such as Sichuan-style bamboo beef or ginger-citrus shrimp.
The chefs at Aguaymanto Grill pull their recipes from the distant land of Peru, where vendors at colorful markets lure passersby with plates of fresh ceviche, and plump rotisserie chickens crackle on spits in the windows of local pollerías. In the kitchen, skilled chefs incorporate fresh seafood into a variety of traditional dishes, including citrusy tilapia ceviche and flavorful parihuela soup. They also slow-roast seasoned chicken over an open-flame grill and plate the sizzling birds alongside nests of crispy fries. To craft their specialty tacu tacu con bistec dish, the chefs slice up juicy steak before showering the thin strips in a tangy chimichurri sauce.
In Aguaymanto’s sunny dining room, visitors perch on cushy, green booths and sip on imported beer and chicha morada—a traditional Peruvian corn drink. Other guests savor last bites of tres leches cake layered with decadent ingredients, such as fluffy cream and a center of Incan gold coins. The dining room's orange and yellow walls attract wandering eyes with striking pictures that showcase scenic Peruvian landscapes and locals donning traditional native clothing.
Chefs use grass-fed beef, cage-free chicken, and steroid-free pulled pork that hail from sustainable sources to craft a bounty of tortilla-wrapped treats that take their names from the likes of Caddyshack, Fletch, and Seinfeld. It's this dual mindset of serious food and irreverent attitude that tinges every one of the eatery's southwestern morsels, from the Art Vandalay burrito to the John Coctostan quesadilla. As the kitchen staff crafts their daily batch of guacamole to join the lineup of six zesty salsas, diners choose from a list of more than 20 ingredients to fill out the entree that will soon be conjured before their eyes. Because dishes are made to order, each finds easy customization for vegetarian, gluten free, and low-calorie diets, and the absence of microwaves, trans-fats, and MSG keep eats wholesome. Meanwhile, a complimentary accompaniment of chips and salsa turns portions into full meals faster than an industry-grade blow-up ray.
When the first Eggspectation eatery opened in Montreal in 1993, the concept was simple: upscale brunch with a focus on decadent egg and crepe dishes. The founding concept has been tweaked only slightly since then, with a menu that today includes more than 160 breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. Breakfast remains the menu’s biggest draw, with a dozen egg benedicts and savory crepes, 16 omelets and fruity pancakes, plus french toast and waffles. At lunch and dinner, chefs stack plates with fine-dining-style entrees, such as half-pound USDA-choice beef burgers and steak and seafood entrees, such as maple-glazed rib eye or lump crab cakes. Whether at a location in Canada, the US, or India, patrons can slide behind a table amid rustic stone and brick walls flanked by jubilant circus-theme decor, such as colorful murals and paparazzi snapshots of Humpty Dumpty.
Otani Japanese Steak & Seafood falls into a familiar rhythm around mealtimes. Chefs man tabletop hibachi grills and sear platefuls of filet mignon, scallops, or chicken right in front of patrons while entertaining them with witty banter, dexterous displays of culinary skill, and their ability to peel shrimp telepathically. Meanwhile, the sushi chefs avoid open flames entirely as they carefully tuck lobster, spring mix, or wasabi aioli into their signature rolls. The entire staff matches the friendly, energetic service of the chefs, striving to greet every guest by name by their second or even first visit.