Picca Peru

Picca Peru
9575 West Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
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Type: Restaurant
Category: Dinner, Late Night
Company: Friends, Date
Cost: $5-$14 per plate, specials $mp
Quickie: Think a well-choreographed Peruvian circus. With probably 100 seats, over 50 menu items, an open kitchen and a full bar - this is where you want to be for food, drink, and entertainment all in one place, all at once. 

OTC Tip: Sit at the counter (it's where they treat friends and family)

Picca sits in what appears to be a quietly converted house with its letters splashed across the raspberry facade in meyer-lemon yellow type. But don't be fooled - After climbing up the handful of stairs to the main entry that's belted in by two heavy double-doors, once you get a look in through what would be the living room windows see that you are about to step in to not only a restaurant but what reveals itself as a self-contained, culinary colony. There is a full bar. An open kitchen. A full counter. Dozens of tables down stairs, and a balcony up stairs that hosts another counter, more tables, and a whole back room hiding a country-style communal table. And with over 50 small plates spewing from the bar, the grill, the oven, and every other prep station for delivery to (probably 100) seats faster than I could take pictures - all I can say is eat and drink what sounds good, because once you are there it all is.

OTC Tip: You can't do Picca like you've gotten accustomed to doing places like Rustic Canyon or Animal. You don't get to pair or pace your menu, and even if you could there are so many options that your head might explode. Thankfully, the drinks go with the food so all you really have to do it point at whatever looks fabulous on the menu. Or (as I did) point and ask at other someone else's order, circle it on the menu, and hand it to the waiter.

With that caveat (and now another) while drinking the first of the three cocktails (that even had I not been a tad tipsy) I still doubt I would be able to recall (note: while there is a wine list, there is no vodka or tequilla or gin so let the bartender recommend something based on your "usual" taste) we ordered:

Chicharron de pollo. marinated crispy chicken, salsa criolla, rocoto sauce
Ceviche crocante. halibut, leche de tigre, crispy calamari 
Causa albacore. garlic chip, ceviche sauce 
Bisteck a lo pobre. skirt steak, egg, pan fried banana, chickpeas tacu tacu
Chicharron de costillas. crispy pork ribs crostini, sweet potato puree, feta cheese sauce, salsa criolla
Anticucho beef filet. sea urchin butter, garlic chip 
Anticucho black cod. miso anticucho, crispy sweet potato (I think....it gets a bit fuzzy)
Tres leches cake

My favorite was the Bistek a lo pobre. Messy, eggy, savory and hearty, every bite is familiar (rice, steak, egg) but not typical (you'll also find chickpeas). The concept reminds me of the Brendade with soft egg, arugula, and grainy mustard at Son of a Gun, and the spice/heat make me think of the "who knows what's in here but it's mind blowing" bowls from Roy Choi's Chego.

No matter how many drinks you've had, you know you are in a great place when the staff sits down around closing to enjoy a spread of plates, the bartender's friends breeze in wearing heels and donning hugs, and the chef tells you that the cow pinata over the doorway is going to be cracked open by his staff on new years - and what will it contain, I asked? He smiled. Money, of course. Clearly, Picca's act isn't going anywhere.

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