One of the real joys of living in the greater Arlington area is the remarkably high number of Latino food joints stuffed in the area’s nooks and crannies. Peruvian chicken, the pollo a la brasas is well known enough, and as Anthony Bourdain could note, Arlington is second to none there. I’ve had good Peruvian chicken and good Salvadorian, but never the chance for Bolivian. It’s such a random idea isn’t it? Bolivian? But it is true. Cinthia’s Bakery and Cafe West of Bailey’s Crossroads is the real thing – at least doing the usual scan of clientele I’d have to attest to that. It was bustling on a Saturday early afternoon, and the pure Spanish on the menu and whatnot both gave us a chance to see if we remembered anything from high school and gave us some notion of authenticity.
I got the Chairo, the Bolivian beef stew with potatoes and freeze dried potatoes (called chairo). The broth had good body and flavor. You could see the amount of work flavorwise that the bones and the oxtail and beef I saw in the bowl did. The potatoes were boiled and cut rather large so they add some starch to it, but not a lot else. LG got the Silpancho, which is a dish that layers rice, boiled potatoes, a giant schnitzel of what looked to be beef, and tomato and onion – oh yeah, and a fried egg on top. The dish was large and starchy. What was interesting was that the onion and tomato layer was just raw – no pico de gallo type of deal or anything. The dish from what I had was good – but wow the starch was bursting.
I guess ultimately you have to give credit for authenticity. The dishes were tasty – and given the mountainous, poor area of Bolivia – that the dishes were starchy and high potatoes and markers of “peasant food” (or at least as I see it) is expected. That being said, this is a definite thumbs up. This round of ordering was not knock my socks off, but very solid – and shows a lot of potential. If nothing else, the chance is there to hone my espanol.