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Restaurants & Bars 11

El Sobrante - El Chalan Italian Peruvian Restaurant – Si

Krys | Feb 14, 200511:32 PM

While waiting for my takeout order of Peruvian style rotisserie chicken I ordered a glass of chicha morada. Large dishes of delicious looking food passed by and I kept adding to my order.

I added olopa, thick slices of boiled potato covered in a creamy green huancaina cheese sauce, garnished with two salty black olives, a hard cooked egg and a romaine lettuce leaf. I was surprised this was a cold dish. The sauce had a nice hot pepper kick to it. I liked this dish. I found a recipe which is linked below.

The mildly spicy roasted chicken seemed to be marinated since the spices permeated the meat. The owner made it a point to tell me that a side of a special sauce came with it. Somewhere between the restaurant and home I lost the sauce. Next time.

The chicken comes with salad which did not look impressive – chopped romaine, tomato, onion, cucumber – but was dressed with a creamy lemony house made dressing. All the food was very tasty, but that salad with the dressing was the best part of the meal. The dressing was that good.

Instead of fries with the chicken, I had rice because I’m trying to cut down on the fried food. Peru is the botanical home of the potato, there are many recipes using potatoes, so I am guessing the fries are good.

I also added another special, a large empanada which had a ground beef filling. Squeezing the fresh lemon slice on it, livened up the flavor.

The chica morada, described as purple corn punch is made by boiling purple corn and the outside of a pineapple with cinnamon and cloves. A little squeezed lemon is added to finish it. I found the deep grape purple drink pleasant with a mild clove flavor. Maybe because if the color, I thought it tasted a bit like grape juice. When I was 10, I had a dish that was over-cloved and to this day, cloves are a spice I avoid. Yet, I did not find this objectionable. However, because of the cloves, I wouldn’t order it again.

There are a lot of interesting fresh Peruvian beverages and they make their own sangria. I want to try the maracyuta (passion fruit juice) next time. Gee, it was valentine’s day. Should have ordered that today. Instead I brought home two bottles of Cusquena, a Peruvian beer. There are also a number of other imported beers and I think the house wine is Peruvian.

I skipped dessert. Some of the Peruvian desserts included Peruvian ice cream (helados de lucuma) and picarones, yet another ethnic fritter/donut. These are pumpkin/squash fritters with a caramel dipping sauce. There are also Alfahores, a cookie with caramel filling that gets mentioned on Chowhound often.

Then there’s the whole Italian side of the menu. I asked about that … Peruvian/Italian? It seems the owner who is from Peru had an Italian restaurant for 10 years on College Avenue in Berkeley. He later briefly worked in another Italian kitchen before opening El Chalon three years ago. It is a full Italian menu with some interesting dishes like the crab ravioli with saffron cream sauce. There are a few English errors on the menu so I am assuming that is what Zaffroncream sauce is.

So you can decide between garlic bread or ceviche, lasagna or lomo saltado, flan or tiramisu. I just love this. What a great place to take a picky eater who might not want Peruvian food. Everybody likes Italian. There is a children’s menu. There are also some vegetarian dishes.

There are specials on the board. The décor is bare bones but clean. Two large windows look out on San Pablo Dam Blvd.

I found my place to learn about Peruvian food. The owner is very nice and helpful about explaining what is in the dishes. I’ll have to try the Italian someday too.

El Chalon
3748 San Pablo Dam Road,
El Sobrante, CA 94803
(510) 222-0607


Closed Tuesday
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 11:30 – 8:30
Friday- Saturday 11:30 – 9:30
Sunday 9am – 8 pm

Hmmm … that must imply some sort of breakfast menu on Sunday. I’ll have to look into that.

Who would have thought there would have been so many good restaurants on San Pablo Dam Road in El Sobrante? I am in some alternate food world where they only serve good food. Taking a chance and stepping into unknown places has been delicous and kind to the budget.


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