Costa Verde was one of those places that I had passed numerous times on walks between the Clarendon and Ballston areas of North Arlington. Tucked in amongst the many, many Pollo a las Brasas joints that line this area, Costa Verde looked surprisingly reputable i.e. non-divey, and the word of mouth was pretty good. I am no expert on Peruvian food, but I have tried it before at El Chalan in Washington DC – so I was prepared for flavorful, spicy profile – and the possibility of tasty fish.
The place itself is located poorly. It is not that it is off the beaten path streetwise – it is indeed very easy to find. However, it does not announce itself being on a sidestreet – you have to remember that it is there. Indeed the decor of the restaurant was pretty first rate. While by no means a Morton’s or anything, the tables were clean and seemed to evoke a family friendly atmosphere (well as family friendly as a place with some of the visual joys of Univision on the TV in the background can be). The place was empty on a Saturday night – but I think that had more to do with the location than anything. (and the general market for non fast food Peruvian) Also the service was no great shakes – not bad, but decidedly slow.
The food though did hit on the mark. A recommendation I was given in researching this was to make sure I have the seafood – and indeed their menu was chock with options. I had the Octopus and Squid in a Garlic Wine sauce with potato and rice. The seafood was cooked nicely so there was some tenderness and not overly sinewy – the common refrain ripping those particular choices. The sauce was not especially fiery, but definitely a good solid flavour – and when added to the green sauce (some sort of salsa verde) it had plenty of depth and kick. The ceviches also looked attractive, but unfortunately nobody at the table took the plunge, so that will have to be a mystery to uncover at a later date. El Chalan seemed to have a little more variety – especially in terms of innards and some of their dishes were legitimately fiery. However, Costa Verde does not take a back seat, and being a 20 minute walk from home – it is a terrific option, at least for me.