The Fire of Peru is Alive at Los Balcones in Studio City

Chef and Author of the Fire of Peru, Ricardo Zarate is on fire! Considered the “godfather of Peruvian cuisine”, he is spreading the flavors and excitement of Peruvian food across Los Angeles. His restaurant Rosaline in West Hollywood showcases classic Peruvian dishes and his new place, Los Balcones in Studio City, explores Mestizo cuisine, Peruvian dishes blended with Spanish and Asian flavors.

Los Balcones is located on the corner of Moorpark, just east of Tujunga. It sits in the space that was previously Girasol. Los Balcones has kept some of the decor, including the magnificent ceiling that looks like an etched flower.

After sitting down in the covered patio looking out onto Moorpark Avenue, our first order of business was to select our drinks. We ordered the “special” cocktail that was described as inspired by Zarate’s book, The First of Peru, and was made with mezacal and an orange juice ice cube. The serving of the cocktail was the first hint of what we were in for – lots of flavor, a little heat and some of the most colorful dishes you may have ever seen.

Knowing that there would be some heat in the dishes, I took a look at the wine list and was very impressed by the selection of grape varieties and producers on the list. Unlike its predecessor Girasole, who may have had great food but completely failed when it came to the wine list, Los Balcones Studio City is doing it right. The by-the-glass offerings include crisp, mineral-driven white wines, such as Gruner Veltliner, Riesling and Txakolina, and the red wines, such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, Alicante Bouschet and Cinsault, are balanced and not over-the-top reds. The wine list consists of wines primarily from Spain, Chile, Portugal, Italy, Argentina, but there are also wines from Oregon, France and California, mostly from the Santa Barbara area.

Peruvian cuisine is one of fusion. It is influenced by the Inca, as well as cuisines brought by colonizers and immigrants from Spain, Italy, China, Japan, West Africa and more. This was reflected in the menu, which is divided into four sections: Un Nuevo Comienzo (Fresh Start), No Te Detengas Ahora (Don’t Stop Now), Termina Como Un Campeón (Finish Like A Champion) and Final Feliz (Happy Ending).

Un Nuevo Comienzo is where you will find the ceviche and other fresh, mostly raw, fish.