Although it’s relatively unassuming, La Bodega Sangucheria Peruana could be considered a destination restaurant.

“There only one other real Sangucheria in the country,” owner Mitto Barriga said.

Even though it’s a small place, it has a wide variety of menu items. La Bodega makes them all well. They feature sandwiches, pastas and empanadas.

Atmosphere

Big windows provide a bright environment with tables and a six-seat counter. It’s simple, but very welcoming. Outdoor dining also is available.

 “It’s comfort food,” Barriga said. “It’s tastes homemade like you eat on Sunday."

Barriga and his wife Rosita Wang have operated the Aji Peruvian Cuisine next door for five years, opening the Bodega about a year ago to bring a more casual approach to Peruvian food.

“Peruvian food is influenced by many cultures,” Barriga said.  "People came from all over the world — Japanese, Africans and mostly Chinese.”

About the Food

One of the highlights is the Chicharron sandwich ($9.50) that combines juicy chunks of pork, crispy yams, salsa criola and a fresh white bun. It’s a large dish, perhaps more than enough for one sitting.

A special treat is the Chicha Morada drink, based on Peruvian purple corn. Even though it’s non-alcoholic, it’s as strong and smooth as a traditional Old Fashioned.

People love the pasta and empanadas, according to Barriga.

The Tallarines Verdes Pasta is Peruvian pesto, spinach, basil queso fresco and cream. It’s very smooth with the fresh ingredients offering a smooth taste. For a special touch that adds a slightly different taste, they use walnuts instead of pine nuts.

The Huancaina pasta is spicier. It has a nice heat due to the Amarillo creamy sauce, but it’s not overpowering.

Empanadas come with beef, chicken, pork or a couple all vegetarian choices.

Other items are on the menu:

The Bodega’s PBJ is a rocota (pepper)-based jelly and peanut butter. Pepper jelly is always a nice surprise and here it works well with the peanut butter.

They have hot dogs as well. And as might be expected, they’re a little different.

Barriga says the Salchipapas hot dog is a Peruvian Classic: a beef hot dog and fries rocota, with Peruvian aioli.

The fries are special, just like everything else. Perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. 

Burgers include the Rocket Man: Bulgogi Sauce, kimchi, sriracha mayo, muenster cheese and crispy wontons. La Bodega makes its own kimchi. The Burro Loco burger comes with sautéed onions and jalapeños, jack cheese, chipotle aioli, tomato, crispy tortillas and avocado.

Wait, There’s More

There are choices for people who are looking for something else. There’s a Classic Rueben: Hot pastrami, muenster cheese, pineapple slaw, thousand island dressing on rye and fries. Or have a Peruvian-Asian Chicken Salad: Romaine, red cabbage, carrots, mandarins, fired wontons, sesame seeds, grilled chicken breast with maracuya-ginger dressing.

The best choice for dessert is Helado de Lucuma, which is imported from Peru. There’s also Lemon Pie with whipped cream and Nutella Cheesecake.

Important to Know

It’s wine and beer at La Bodega.

Happy Hour is 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

La Bodega Sangucheria Peruana is at 2306 E. Fourth St. They open at noon every day. (Closed on Tuesdays).

The phone number is (562) 439-8565 and the website is www.labodegasangucheria.com.

They take reservations. Parking is on the street.

Kurt comes to the Gazettes with 30 years experience in broadcasting and journalism. He has produced and/or directed hundreds of television programs, including news, sports, entertainment, election coverage, town meetings and telethons.

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