This review is so fresh I think I still have a piece of quinoa stuck in my teeth.
Yes. Quinoa! That amazing South American super-grain filled with so many delicious nutrients you can’t help but eat like a 1000 of them. It’s also an absolute staple in Peruvian cuisine!
Yes, people, much to my surprise, the humble people of Peru not only have a cuisine but if Charango is anything to go by, it’s a freaking delicious one! Having never been to Peru myself I can neither confirm or deny the authenticity of such a claim, but even if the menu at Charango is simply inspired by Peru, then someone please take me to Peru!
This was in fact not our first visit to Charango. Our First visit was shortly after it had opened (a couple of months ago) to meet a friend for a drink, it was a sunny afternoon and we wanted somewhere with a lovely outside area that would allow us to soak in the start of the weekend. We did have a couple of tiny tacos while we were there, but to be honest, our priority on that day was checking if there was in fact truth in wine! I’m happy to report there was.
This wasn’t even our second time at Charango. No, that was another Friday evening where on a whim we decided to change the venue of “Date Night” and once again soak in the weekend while sipping on champagne. When dinner rolled around we kinda picked a few things out the menu with no real expectations to be honest. I mean, the place was new and trendy, slap bang in the middle of the other trendy bars and eateries. So we had low expectations.
Strangely enough, the food was not the first thing to blow us away. Believe it or not, it was the service. Yeah, I know, when last has service been so good that it stood out!? Our waiter was absolutely incredible, just super friendly, super informative super helpful and really made the night for us – I would think we just got lucky if we hadn’t experienced the same service this last time around too.
When our food arrived (mostly recommendations from our waiter) we were blown away. Yeah, I know, sounds extreme again, but much like you, when you started reading this article, we didn’t quite know what to expect from Peruvian tapas, so when it arrived and we realized every dish was tastier than the last it brought a whole new level of joy to our meal.
See, what we came to discover (in short) was that Peruvian cuisine was (like most South American cuisines) largely influenced by the Spanish. However, it was the Chinese and Japanese influence on the food that made it all so different.
Now, look. I’m not a real food critic, so, It would be cheeky to sit here and break down the meal for you, telling you that “the crunch of the Asian slaw contrasted perfectly with the seared Tuna in the bite-sized tacos” – all be it true. However, if you’re anything like me, you simply want food that you can enjoy without feeling like you should have studied before you sat down.
The food was good, all of it. Even the cucumber and courgette salad that we tried was amazing, just simple and fresh but full of flavor! When you have 2 meat eaters fighting over the last courgette piece you know you’ve nailed the salad!
Let’s move on to drinks, shall we!
Ok, so? What do you even know about Pisco? Probably as much as me before arriving at Charango. Turns out Pisco is a Peruvian brandy developed by the Spanish settlers in the 16th century as an alternative to their Spanish orujo. Our waiter, however, told us that it had been created as a way to beat the wine tax in Peru, and to be honest, I way prefer that story. We both started off with a rosewater and cardamon Pisco sours as recommended by Alwyn the manager and I must say that despite trying our best to work our way down the list of Pisco sours the Rosewater and Cardamon remained our favorite. We also gave one or 2 of the other cocktails a try and although they were very delicious we did find them a little sweet. Interestingly though Charango uses no sugar in their drinks but instead Xylitol as a lower carb sugar substitute! I thought that was quite novel!
As the afternoon started cooling down we moved outside and just sat watching the world go by as we sipped on another Pisco Sours – we loved it!
I think my view of Charango is pretty obvious. My mouth started watering and I got all excited again just writing this review. I can’t even quite put my finger on what makes the place so amazing, sure the decor is great and so is the food, but it’s more than that. There’s something ‘extra’, something I can’t explain, something I really think you should try for yourself.
If you’re in town and want to give Charango a try, you can call them on 021 422 0757, they’re open Monday to Saturday for lunch (12-3pm) and dinner (6pm till late) and you can find them at 144 Bree Street, Cape Town.
UPDATE: Charango has recently undergone a facelift, and although I haven’t been in a while I believe they’re still knocking it out the part with that delicious Peruvian cuisine!
Okay. Stay Fancy.