Flavor Fest at Lafayette's Barranco Cocina PeruanaNov 15, 2017 08:23AM ● By Fran Miller
BY FRAN ENDICOTT MILLER
Already home to several destination level restaurants, Lafayette adds yet another delicious reason to venture to the East Bay hamlet. Barranco Cocina Peruana is the newest addition to the area’s ever expanding culinary landscape, and what a welcome addition it is. Chef Carlos Altamirano’s Peruvian gem features a vibrant and welcoming interior, craft cocktails, and dishes that will leave your taste buds in a state of wonderment.
After enjoying a few of Altamirano’s menu items, you’ll understand the seemingly sudden proliferation of Peruvian restaurants throughout the Bay Area – many of them belonging to Altamirano. Barranco is his seventh such restaurant and his third in the East Bay. The cuisine’s authentic and eclectic flavors are a revelation. Featuring African, Italian, Spanish, German, and Asian influences, this is food (and drink) that is spirited and bold. Altamirano dives right into these mixtures of taste with seasonings and sauces that burst with flavor.
Cebiches, for instance, (the national dish of Peru) feature fresh, line-caught wild fish marinated in a variety of flavors that sing, such as the Cebiche Verde: Mexican white shrimp, cilantro jalapeno, avocado and leche de tigre. Antichuchos (skewers), a favorite Peruvian street food, feature marinated beef heart, chicken, pork belly or scallops. The Bocaditos, or ‘snacks’ portion, follows, and many items are entrée sized, such as the BBQ pulled pork sandwich – tender chunks of pulled pork with house made Inka Cola BBQ sauce and sweet salsa criolla on a large ciabatta roll.
Main courses, or Platos De Fondo, include beef, fresh fish, chicken and vegetable options. The Salmon Bandido – grilled wild salmon filet with butter beans and salsa criolla was outstanding, as was the Lomo Saltado – tender stir fried beef tenderloin with onions, tomatoes, soy and Yukon fries. All dishes are meant to be shared, and wait staff recommend starting with the Para Empezar portion (‘to get started’) and working forward through the menu until satiated. Numerous tantalizing choices make repeat visits a must. And don’t forget cocktails; a Pisco-centric cocktail menu features several variations of the national spirit of Peru – a clear liquor made from Peruvian grape varietals and produced under a strict 400-year old process. If you’ve not tried a Pisco Sour, Barranca’s version provides a great introduction.
Named for Altamirano’s hometown in Lima, Peru, Barranco’s interior is as lively as its fare. The former site of Baja Fresh, the building reveals an extensive remodel featuring high ceilings, concrete floor, and tables lining the length of a wall, creating a communal dining feel. Custom murals by Bay Area artists Letty Samonte and Bridget Moser take center stage, as does the open kitchen with chef's counter.
Having trained under some of the Bay Area’s most exalted chefs, Altamirano has earned a reputation for his exemplary Peruvian cuisine and fine restaurants such as Mochica in San Francisco’s SOMA district, Piqueos in Bernal Heights, La Costanera in Half Moon Bay, and Parada in Walnut Creek. He’s got another winner on his hands with Barranco.
Barranco: 3596 Mt. Diablo Blvd. : Lafayette
Tuesday – Thursday, and Sunday, 5 – 9pm
Friday and Saturday, 5 – 10pm
Brunch: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 11am – 3pm
Photos by Kristen Loken