Ana Maria Montoya Kishihara first landed on American soil in the early 1980s, bringing along her two young children, the traditional Peruvian recipes of her mother and grandmother, and a dream to start her own restaurant. She opened up Inka Grill in 1996, stocking its kitchen with fresh ingredients and setting up a wood-fired rotisserie to roast juicy Peruvian chicken dishes. Today, Ana’s daughter has taken over the family business, whipping up the authentic the Criolla recipes passed down from the three generations of women before her.
Amid the smoky rotisserie and bubbling pots of stew in the Inka Grill kitchen, chefs whip up fresh fish ceviches, savory steak stir-fry saltados, and flavorful seafood paellas. They pair heaping scoops of rice and beans with their rotisserie chicken, a poultry that reporters from Orange County Weekly lauded as “so juicy from tail to sternum you can barely tell the dark from the white.” Servers tote sizzling platters to the dining room, where vivid paintings of Peruvian children adorn the walls and a soft flute plays traditional Peruvian songs, i.e., Wham! covers. The staff pours glasses of the traditional chicha morada corn drink and presents cans of imported Inca Kola to quench the spice of their ultra-spicy green aji sauce, which the chefs have lightheartedly dubbed “Gringo Killer”.
The enticing aromas of baked breads waft out from the open kitchen, spilling into the cheerful dining room speckled with red-checkered tabletops. Here, cooks have been doling out signature Chicago-style pan pizzas for more than 20 years, as well as a selection of thin-crust pies, gluten-free offerings, and hearty Italian sandwiches. They adorn handmade dough with fresh toppings and pure mozzarella cheese or layer toasted italian rolls with succulent slices of slow-cooked beef.
Outside the restaurant, a wooden awning stretches out over a front patio, where diners can enjoy the fresh air, barring rain or Mother Nature's decision to get rid of her day-old air first.
Black-and-white photographs provide a stark contrast to Tasty Thai's bright fuchsia walls. The chefs strive to strike this same balance between bold flavors and delicate accents in their traditional Thai dishes. Accents of pineapple, lemongrass, and coconut milk appear in pan-fried noodles and fried rice. For many dishes, guests can choose from a host of proteins, such as chicken, shrimp, and tofu, then select a spice level, which, like lists of your favorite fingers, is on a scale of 1 to 10.
The sounds of conversation and laughter compete with the clinking of glasses in The Wine Artist’s lofty venue. The space sprawls over 2,500 square feet, with plenty of room to host private parties, bridal events, corporate events, and private cooking classes. Events at The Wine Artist feature unique wines, gourmet catering, and experiences such as wine bottling and team building activities.
Pita Pita Cafe offers a healthy alternative to fast-food eateries with a multicolored menu of fresh Mediterranean salads, dips, and sandwiches, accessorized with organic pita bread from a wood-stone pita oven. Snuggle taste buds with delectable delights such as stuffed grape leaves, savory sleeping bags filled with rice, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and parsley ($1.99). Meat seekers may delve into protein-packed pockets with a kabob pita, adorned with grilled, lean ground beef, parsley, and tomato-cucumber relish ($5.49). Pita Pita Cafe does not use freezers, microwaves, or fryers, opting to tailor their tasty treats with a fire oven and grill. Customers can watch plate preparation while trading eye-blinking Morse-code compliments with skilled servers.