I had the pleasure of having a casual dinner at La Brasa, a Latin restaurant located in Rockville, MD, close to the Twinbrook Metro stop on the Red Line.
I was pleasently surprised how cute and comfy the place was considering it's located in a more industrial part of the city across from a gas station on Parklawn Dr and hidden in the shadows of the US Health and Human Services Building.
There are outside chairs and tables for those that prefer the ambiance of being outdoors. The parking is on the side of the building and there is just enough.
It being my 1st time here, the outside made it look more like a carry-out place that perhaps had minimal or quick seating...
...but I was wrong! It's very inviting with warm colors, lights and the table cloths. You are able to seat yourself and a server will come over to your table and hand you menus. You also have an option to walk right up the register and order food to go.
As you can see, the place is very small but there are many small tables within the resturant. On a Friday night, it wasn't very crowded, so food was served quickly.
Instead of being my usual boring-water self, I decided to order a special drink they had there, and it was called Tamarindo for $1.75. It is a juice made from the Tamarind plant that looks like a large, brown string bean pod with a couple brown sticky things in them. In a nutshell, the drink tastes kinda like apple juice but with a more fragrant and tart taste. There is no pulp, just the juice, and it's quite refreshing!
A little perk about dining in is the complimentary tortilla chips and salsa. Plus the staff is extremely patient, helpful, nice, attentive and warm. Good service can make or break a restaurant, and this place has awesome service.
This place has food ranging from chicken (which I got and will discuss), to burritos, fish, soups, salads, steaks, carne asada, etc. They also have a large selection of sides including fried yuca, fried plantains, and black beans.
I got the 1/4 dark chicken meal, which includes 2 sides, so I chose the fried yuca and plaintains. All that food was $5.50. What a great deal especially for women who don't like to eat that much so they can save room for dessert like myself. =)
The yuca was very good, starchy, crisp, and fried just enough. I liked eating it with ketchup because they're very much like big french fries but slightly sweeter.
The chicken had the right amount of seasoning. Some other peruvian chicken places are a bit salty which I think can take away from the other spices. The chicken was drier than others that I have had, but was by no means dry. It was very tender, and was easy to remove from the bone.
I'm a huge fried plaintains fan, and these passed my test! They were sliced long-ways instead of into smaller slices, which I think helped make them more tender. They were very soft, caramelized and tasted sweet. I wish I had ordered some to go!
Here is the view of the entire plate to show that it's a good amount of food for the price.
My cousin came along with me and he ordered 1/2 a chicken instead and black beans and rice as his sides. He said he liked the black beans, so I'll have to get them next time.
Here is the rice that he mixed his beans with, and its nice there are some herbs on top to add to the flavor.
With the meals were two dipping sauces. I don't know exactly what they are, but other places I've had Peruvian chick at have also served me the yellow sauce. It seems like a sort of mayo to me. The one on the left tasted spicier version of the 'mayo' to me. For the record my spicy tolerance is pretty low. Like eating too many Hot Fries at once can make me be like "ow" for a second, so please try to use that as your gauge to the hot factor of the sauce.
Even though I'm full, I always have room dessert. So I ordered a slice of Tres Leches cake. In Spanish it means 'three milks' cake, and it's extremely moist, wet even because of all of the liquids. My cousin asked if I wanted to share it, and I said no because I wanted my own!
Dinner was relaxing because it wasn't loud and crazy in there. The service was wonderful. The food was delicious, fast and plentiful. The place is very affordable with $3.75 Tres Leches cakes, and $15.75 Surf & Turf, which is the most $ thing on the menu.
I would recommend this place to anyone who is up for a casual evening out, and doesn't feel up for paying an arm and a leg for good food.
12401 Parklawn Drive
Rockville, MD 20852