We tried Don Ricardo's, a Peruvian and Brazilian restaurant on West Dedham Street in the South End yesterday evening. It felt a bit off the beaten path, in a little shopping area between Tremont and Shawmut. The inside was a bit plain but comfortable, with a well-worn carpet, lots of ferns and palms along the windows, and a mix of photos and traditional art on the walls. The couple who own the place were exceedingly nice, and seemed quite happy to see us (perhaps because we were the only ones there!).
We started with the guacamole appetizer--the guacamole was smooth, creamy, and mild, which is exactly how I like it (no harsh onion taste), while the tortilla chips were decent enough. Sangria had a bit of a kick to it, and had many little pieces of fruit floating at the top, adding to the flavor.
The entrees were excellent, though mine was rather unusual; the tallarin en salsa verde included a linguini-style pasta in a type of pesto sauce, with thin, flat pieces of beef milaneza (kind of like a chicken-fried steak) laid on top of the pasta. The steak was delicious, and the pasta was tasty, too, though just a bit overcooked. My GF's salpicon de pollo (sauteed chicken with peppers, onions, and tomatoes in a garlic white wine sauce) was terrific, and it came with an equally nice side of beans in sauce as well as white rice that was ok but a bit on the bland side. I also ordered a side of yellow rice, which had a bit more taste to it than the white rice.
Desserts looked tempting, but we both decided to pass on that, opting instead to walk off our meals in the neighborhood (and checking out some dining spots that are on my list, including Joe V's and the South End Buttery).
Don Ricardo's is just one of many excellent restaurants I've gotten to in 2008, making it a great start to the year. Between the Jasmine Bistro (Brighton), La Siesta (Winthrop), the Elephant Walk (Cambridge), Sahara (Worcester), and Fasika (Somerville), it is really tough to choose a favorite so far this year, but I'm still thinking the Jasmine Bistro might have them all beat thus far.