Judging Restaurants – El Chalan

This is one of those places that looks like it could be a classic hidden gem. El Chalan is located at 1924 I St, NW:

El Chalan Restaurant was founded in 1975 by Pedro and Elsa Espinoza. After, a few years in the DC metropolitan area they opened a carry-out in Arlington, Virginia. They initially sold traditional American food such as hot dogs, hamburgers, and fries during the week and Peruvian food was served only on the weekends. Soon, there was increasing demand for the Peruvian menu, and they converted the carry-out to a restaurant and changed the name from Washington Lee Carry-out to El Chalan Restaurant.

El Chalan was the first Peruvian restaurant in the DC metropolitan area, and continues to be one of the most recognized in the area, and has received multiple favorable reviews. Located on 1924 I Street, El Chalan serves up delicious Peruvian fare every day of the week. Our most known dishes are the lomo saltado, causa, and ceviche. The pisco sours are also very popular.

You can see their full menu here.

Any fans?

18 Comment

  • great place and a long time Washington institution. Great Pisco Sours.

  • Very good. Lomo saltado and aji de gallina are great. Same with the ceviche

  • This is where I learned that I do not like goat. Or cow heart. The less adventurous dishes are quite good.

  • Ate there yesterday (and for the last couple of decades). Love the Pisco Sours, Lomo Saltado, ceviche etc. Don’t know about the goat or cow heart mentioned above.

  • Have been going there since my days at GWU. Now I take my business meetings there. I’ve never had something I didn’t enjoy. Then again I almost always order the Tacu Tacu–rice and white beans mixed and crunchy on the outside, topped with seafood sauce. Amazing. El Chalan never disappoints.

  • This place is good but I much prefer Las Canteras in Adam’s Morgan for Peruvian food.

  • Went there for a late lunch with my parents when they were in town, and we really enjoyed it. I’d definitely go back if I ever find myself in that part of town.

  • Mmm. Aji de Gallina. I think I know what I’m craving now…

  • Best peruvian I’ve had in DC. Their ceviche and papa huancaina make a perfect lunch (and maybe a Cusquena if I don’t have a busy afternoon, hehehe)

  • I’ve been going here for years. Great place for some lomo saltado!

  • Good stuff, particularly the ceviche. The fact that they can still pull this off after decades, while trendier eateries surrounding them come and go, is a testament to the fact that they know WTF they’re doing. I wish I could say that about more places downtown.

  • I go there for lunch sometimes. It’s a nice l’il hidden gem in dc. The lomo saltado or the goat stew are awesome!

  • Popular with nearby World Bank staff for lunch. I was taken there by a Peruvian who claims it’s the best and most authentic Peruvian food she’s found anywhere in the States. That said, don’t bother if you’re vegetarian.a

  • Into their 4th decade of consistently good, traditional Peruvian food and drinks.

    Visits between these two exceptional restaurants, El Chalan at 19th and I Streets and Las Canteras at 2307 18th Street, NW you will have been to Peru and back.

  • This place is definitely a little gem. I went there once for dinner a few years ago and really enjoyed the food.

  • Great Place…best Ceviche around and delicious Piscos with authenic top (keep quiet 🙂 Hope they still have the coupon in City Paper. They seem to have been very busy lately.

    This is truly a hidden gem to my thinking.

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