Machu-Picchu is a new Peruvian restaurant that opened in Sparks on Oddie Boulevard between Sullivan Lane and El Rancho Drive. I ate there last night and enjoyed the food, but I think the challenge for me and other Chowhounds is finding a distinctive dish that makes Machu-Picchu a place to recommend.
Machu-Picchu, named after the ancient Incan city in Peru, is the building most recently inhabited by the coffee shop Cozy's and what was originally a chain fish-and-chips place. It's clean but they haven't done anything to remodel since it was Cozy's, as far as I can tell. Very plain inside.
The server was friendly but had a hard time describing the food, perhaps both because English is his second language and because he was young. I asked about the soup of the day and he described it as having meat and vegetables. Well, that describes about 80 percent of the soups in the world. I wasn't able to get any more of a description out of him, including what kind of meat was in the soup.
I ordered Sopa Criolla, described on the menu as "beef and noodle soup slightly creamy with a bite," Tallarin Saltado, described as "Peruvian style lo Mein, Spaghetti and assorted vegetables and beef."
The bread arrived first and it was the only bad part of the meal. It was light and probably pretty tasty when it was fresh -- perhaps even homemade -- but this bread was dry and almost hard. I suspect dry bread is not a Peruvian tradition. I should have sent it back. Call me a wuss.
The soup arrived and it looked like cream of mushroom soup with egg like you see in egg flower soup. I can't remember what kind of noodles it had. The egg was a nice contrast to the thick creaminess of the soup. The meat was in small pieces. It was nice soup, a little different. But for $6, I'm not sure I'll get it again.
They brought the Tallarin Saltado out with the soup and this is very easy to describe. It tastes almost exactly like stir fried chow mein with soft noodles. Even the small slices of beef with the dish tasted like stir fried Chinese food. The only change up between the Tallarin Saltado and Chinese food was that the Peruvian dish had fresh purple onions. The noodles are so much like lo mein that I wouldn't be surprised if they bought them from an Asian market. I asked the server and he said it was an authentic Peruvian dish. It wasn't like there was some fusion going on.
I enjoyed this dish. But after I ate it, I was wondering what would make me get it for $11 at Machu-Picchu when I can get it for $7 at any number of Chinese restaurants in the Reno area.
They have a $2 drink called Chicha Morada I'd recommend people try. The menu says it is made of black corn that is boiled with pineapple, cinnamon and clove and then mixed with sugar and lemon. Basically it's tea made out of corn. The pineapple, cinnamon and clove were all distinctive in the drink. I liked it.
The trick with Machu-Picchu is to find more unique dishes that will give us a reason to eat there as opposed to say El Sazon restaurant a hundred yards away in the same shopping center. Right now I can say I've eaten at a Peruvian restaurant and kind of add that as a notch to my belt to show I've eaten at a diverse group of restaurants, but we need something that makes it unique.
The to-go menu had a lot of items I didn't see on Friday's dinner menu. Some of the fish dishes look interesting. There's a Bisteck a lo Pobre described as a traditional Peruvian steak served with rice, French fries and fried bananas topped with eggs. There's a Tallarin Verde described as spaghetti made with a flavorful basil and spinach sauce.
I'll try it again. I ask other Chowhounds go to Machu-Picchu and report back on more interesting dishes to try.
2258 Oddie Blvd.
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