La Chola Peruvian Cuisine
by Eric Marion
As a vegetarian, I am very often challenged with Puerto Rican dining and in general with most Latin American Restaurants. Chefs will spend hours preparing animal meat to taste, but vegetables and fruits are too often deemed "secondary" elements to the main course. Thus, most of my restaurant experiences are tales of stale parsely, wilted lettuce, and second-class dining experiences.
La Chola on 1859 Calle Loiza (near the Ocean Park Entrance) is a delicious vacation from the subpar norm to which I have become accustomed. Each meal is prepared to order. You want onions? They are cut fresh within minutes of your order. Do you prefer mango or avocado on your salad? No matter, they will both be freshly peeled. For meat eaters, the quality is of a similar stellar standard (or so I have been told by the countless referrals I have sent to La Chola).
My favorite treat is the red sangria. In true Peruvian tradition, the syrup is made from purple corn tea, freshly brewed and saturated with fresh tropical fruits, then mixed with a fine argentinian wine for zest. The sangria isn't served on ice. The attentive waitstaff has the forethought to pour your sangria from the carafe onto the ice as dinner proceeds (eliminating that watered-down cocktail so common in other less-attentive Caribbean venues).
The tasty sauces which accompany many of the menu items are brown-bag worthy. You know that the dinner is a success when you are imaging how such-and-such a sauce would taste in your own kitchen on your own dinner items. The zingy/tangy/sweet/rich sauce(s) are perfect compliments to the "carbon" cuisine of La Chola. ("Carbon" is "blackened" in English; thus, "blackened chicken", "blackened salmon"). Almost all items are served on crispy beds of vegetables and fruits (unless the recipe calls for La Chola's delicious ceviche, one of La Chola's more popular dishes).
La Chola's spacious and artsy interior make this spot an ideal setting for a romantic last night out in San Juan. Of the many restaurants in San Juan, La Chola is a sure bet that never fails to impress.
Loiza St. 1859, 00911 San Juan, Puerto Rico
(787) 200-5877Today 4:00 pm - 11:00 pm