Kitschy Dining (Choo-Choo!)

Ever since I was a wee girl and had my first plate of ribs (yes, ribs) at Darryl’s in North Carolina (in its glory days, think meals at two-seater tables in a bus driven by a gorilla, chicken wings wolfed down in a jail cell, hot and greasy French fries in the back seat of a green Volkswagen), I’ve had a real soft spot for kitschy dining establishments. Call me crazy, but there’s something comforting and bittersweet about feeling like you’re 7 again while glomming a tasty meal. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of stumbling upon many other dining establishments of the sort, from the Blue Benn Diner in Bennington, Vermont, while on a family camping trip, to Sweet Sue’s per a friend’s excellent recommendation (Thanks, D!), to Walker Bros.—that ridiculous waffle house in Evanston, Illinois, that serves the most deliciously huge apple pancakes you ever did eat.

So, it came of no surprise to Mark when we happened to spot El Expreso de la Virgen de Guadalupe Café Cultural, an old 1920’s converted train car-turned-restaurant and night club, while wandering around the Barranco neighborhood in Lima that I almost tripped over myself at the thought of going in. Maybe I’ve seen Harold and Maude way too many times, but needless to say, there was no way we weren’t stopping there for a bite to eat. Plus, a vegetarian buffet in Peru?! Come on!

Luckily, everything was delicious. Appetizer: white bean and vegetable soup with chunks of carne de soya (gasp!). Mains: heaping plates of quinoa and veggies; mushroom and tofu ceviche; three types of potatoes—sweet, baking, and new with parsley; runner bean salad with rice; black-eyed peas with peppers salad. Dessert: Rice pudding (sans raisins!!). All washed down with a glass of chicha. Yummers!

And the atmosphere? Classic kitsch. Stained-glass windows. Old, rickety wooden chairs. Tables with extra-sticky tops. Gaudy hanging lamps. An old out-of-tune piano. Carpeting! I half expected Maude to come out of the back and start talking about Snowfall on 42nd Street. (“Subways . . . Perfume . . . Cigarette . . . Cologne . . . Carpet . . . Chestnuts . . . Snow!”).

The lesson here, folks? Even though you might feel silly walking into a super hokey place to eat like the one described above, just do it. The prices might be just a smidgeon higher. But in the end, it’s all worth it.

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About andesnotthemint

Alexis, Mark, 2 seasons, 1 continent, a very long mountain range.
This entry was posted in Food, Lex, Peru and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Kitschy Dining (Choo-Choo!)

  1. ariburling says:

    Holey smokes its 100 degrees today! Can’t believe… I miss blue ben.

    SOMEONE keep us up last night- it seems SOMEONE is having a tiny growth spurt, accompanied by a lot of gas.

    THat plate of food looks yummy, and you look resteed and 100% stress free!

  2. Food glorious food……………Great photo! You look so happy. This is the experience of a lifetime.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Guys – Best things to eat in Lima
    1- Chicha -fermented blue corn sweet drink – wonderfully unique
    2- Mazamorra Morada- sweet purple corn and rice pudding -I dream about it
    3-cebiche pescado
    4-Pisco Sour
    Lima has the best food – Peruvians are great cooks – Don’t forget Hot dog Grande.
    Harold (JBS) Schwartz

  4. Pingback: ATNM Travel Awards: Culinary | Andes Not The Mint dot com

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