Photos & story by Romaree Herbert
Walking into AMAR Peruvian + Mexican Kitchen transports me to a different land. Casual, earthy, bright, airy, and filled with lush greenery, this place is cozy and welcoming. Tease your palate with a taste of Peru and Mexico in this charming locale.
Wicker tables and chairs with a splash of colors are neatly spread around the room. Baskets of all sizes, cacti, and macramé wall-hangings adorn the walls. Little metal white buckets are filled with napkins and silverware and brought to your table as you sit down.
A long white wrap-around bar with plenty of seating showcases the open kitchen design, where one can see the charcoal oven (brought back from Spain) and the bustling staff busy at work creating one of a kind plates for their customers. Outside in front, there is a sprawling patio with wood chairs and tables, more greenery and more open seating.
Only open for four weeks, Amar has established quite a following with their traditional Peruvian dishes and Mexican food. Tania Peregrino Yee, born in Mexico, and her Peruvian born husband Elio Rodriquez are partners in the business along with Tania’s parents Humberto and Gysel Peregrino Yee and her brother Kevin, who is also Amar’s Chef.
Tania explained that this was a family business and that eight years ago, while she was studying at FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing) in Los Angeles, her parents started Don Carbon, a local drive-through Mexican food eatery here in El Paso. Don Carbon has done exceptionally well and continues to open new locations, but Tania wanted to focus on a distinctive restaurant concept.
“My husband’s mom taught me how to make traditional Peruvian dishes and I wanted to bring to El Paso the beauty of Peruvian cuisine and share the love and miracles that GOD has given to my family. The name AMAR is the Spanish root word for love and our menu is based on pure love for comida,” Tania said.
When I arrived, I was greeted by a hostess who let me know that I could choose my own seating. I decided to sit at the bar so that I could get a front-row view of the action taking place in the kitchen and all around me. I was then offered a “chicha morada,” a refreshing drink made from Peruvian blue corn, lime, pineapple skin, apples and cinnamon. The drink was fruity, tangy and simply divine, as I slowly savored each sip.
A little bowl of “Canchita,” which is fried corn with salt and a small dish of sauce arrived in front of me next. Eating these little kernels reminded me of eating corn nuts… then I dipped them into an herbal sauce called Huacatay made from premium mint paste, jalapeño, and cilantro. The taste of the two flavors combined ignited my senses and I truly felt that I had landed in another country reveling in the new flavors.
Ceviche Amar, which is a Peruvian ceviche with Mahi Mahi cooked in lime juice, shrimp, and octopus, fried calamari, mussels, Peruvian peppers, sweet potato, and Andean maiz (corn) called, cancha y chocio. This dish was large enough to be a shared appetizer, or even a main dish. The lime sauce drizzled all over the food was the finishing touch allowing all of these flavors to blend together creating a light, yet succulent mingling of aromas. The calamari was crispy, and complimented the tender shrimp and delicately firm, sweet potato slices. As I took pleasure of each bite, I was in awe of how perfectly these foods tasted together.
The last plate that I was introduced to is called Huancaina Truffle Pasta, linguine served with Peruvian huancaina sauce, truffle oil, and parmesan cheese, topped with a generous amount of grilled shrimp. Rich and creamy, this dish was excellent and extremely filling. If customers prefer, chicken can be added or it can be eaten as a vegetarian dish.
There are also popular Mexican dishes to choose from such as the Tacos de Ribeye or Elotes a la Brasa, both grilled in their charcoal oven, and Aguachiles Enamorados which is a ceviche of raw shrimp cooked in lime juice, green sauce, red onions, orange slices and tostadas. Wine, draft and bottled beer, micheladas and mimosas are also served.
The staff is attentive and willing to answer any questions and make it a point to add all the finishing touches to each plate before they are served. “The exposed kitchen reminds me of a family reunion…grandmas, tias, cousins, all in the kitchen cooking together and sharing a drink!” expressed Tania.
Dine-in · Curbside pickup · No delivery
Address: 3100 N Mesa St, El Paso, TX 79902
Phone: (915) 613-5051