Though meals tend to bring friends together, meals peppered with magnets can push them apart. Enjoy an attractive repast with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of Peruvian fusion cuisine and drinks for lunch or dinner at Mochica. Patrons redeeming this Groupon during lunch hours also receive a glass of sangria (up to an $8 value).
Zagat-rated Mochica's Peruvian-born chef Carlos Altamirano slices and stirs traditional South American ingredients in the kitchen to forge a brimming lunch and dinner menu. Papita rellena, a potato ball crowded with tender chicken ($10), leads a parade of tapas ideal for sharing among tablemates or plopping into the pot during a high-stakes poker game. As diners' eyes run along the colorful curls of abstract paintings on the merlot-hued walls, tendrils of fragrance unfurl from the warm ceviche tibio de camarones, a crowd of tiger shrimp braised in ginger, beer sauce, and aji amarillo, a golden pepper native to Peru ($18). During lunching hours, patrons clean plates with slices of yucca or wash down seafood paella ($18) with sangria, wine ($7–$10), or shouting matches with sprinklers.
Though Carlos Altamirano has studied under a number of internationally renowned San Francisco chefs, his first culinary teacher was his mother. He grew up amid the lush mountains and fruitful oceans of southern Peru, helping his mother as she sliced fresh fish, cilantro, and limes for ceviche. Today, Carlos infuses his mother's traditional recipes with contemporary flourishes to craft Mochica's menu of innovative Peruvian fusion.
Deep in its kitchen, Carlos and his chefs fold imported Peruvian ingredients into the seafood ceviche lauded by Bill Addison of the San Francisco Chronicle as "among the most astutely prepared in the city." Pots of seafood paella simmer on stoves, as chefs braise chicken breast in flavorful sauces and melt cheeses with but one gentle note from a wooden Peruvian flute. Out in the dining room, guests nibble on crunchy chickpeas and corn kernels while sipping on fine wines and fruity sangria. Sunlight streams in through tall windows, illuminating deep-crimson walls speckled with an eclectic collection of vibrant, modern artwork.