First off, thanks to everyone who helped with our group's decision to try Fina Estampa.
We ate at the Van Ness location last night and it was excellent. There were only 3 other diners there that night, and the bartender also took our orders and served the food. There was a busser who refilled water, bread etc. Service was great, and all of our orders came out quicky.
We started with Pisco sours at the bar as our group arrived (the bartender recommended them as being traditional Peruvian), and they were great.
Then we sat and were brought bread with several sauces. The chimichurri was definitely the best, but all were really good (others who posted about this were not kidding when you said the chili sauce was hot! Wow!) . We had several appetizers, including the marinated beef heart skewers (which I've never had and they were excellent, as described in the other threads on this board), avocado stuffed with chicken, calamari, garlic shrimp, and 2 ceviches. Again, everything was excellent, and dipping the bread in the leftover garlic and oil from the shrimp app was a delight.
About half our table had seafood paella and the rest of us had the red snapper and breaded beef dishes. The bisteca was huge, and was pounded super thin, breaded and fried. It was very tender and with not a hint of greasiness. It could have used some lemon or chopped tomato with it, but we improvised and spread a little of the chimichurri over it and it was perfect.
We shared several large carafes of sangria which I think was one of the tastiest I've had .
For dessert we had simple cookies dusted with powdered sugar. In between the two cookie halves was some kind of caramel (which was described by the waiter, but I didn't catch how it was made- it wasn't gooey at all). The cookies were delicious and buttery.
Among the restaurants on our list, I would rank it as a must -return.
Thanks again hounds, for the recommendations and info. Of course, any recs for a letter G restaurant are always welcome!