Like watching foreign films and licking the pages of travel guides, noshing on international cuisine expands your cultural palate. Indulge in authentic eats with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of Peruvian fusion cuisine and drinks at Mochica.
At Mochica, the skilled mitts of Peru-born chef Carlos Altamirano adorn plates with cuisine that fuses modern flavors with authentic Peruvian spices and ingredients culled from his homeland. For lunch, diners can go fork-happy with the aji de gallina ($15), which dresses shredded chicken breast in a silky aji amarillo sauce nightgown. An assortment of shareable tapas highlights the dinner menu, including savory servings of pork tamale, baby octopus, and Peruvian stuffed green peppers ($8–$13). Fresh seafood ceviches and tiraditos alight kissers with a lime-and-pepper zest, which can be cooled with a voluptuous gullet-greaser from Mochica's colossal wine list, which bursts with Latin wines, globetrotting cervezas ($4.50–$5), and Peruvian soft drinks ($3–$3.50). Patrons can nibble authentic Peruvian desserts while admiring the framed and macaroni art festooning Mochica's dark-red walls.
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.