I’m kicking myself for how long it took me to make this discovery. I have been a big fan of Peruvian food for a long time. I can’t remember who, when, or how I was introduced to lomo saltado, but I was pretty hooked once I tried it. Lomo saltado is stir-fried steak, onions, and tomatoes over a bed of white rice and French fries. It may sound a little different, but it’s awesome! From there I became a fan of causa (chilled mashed yellow potatoes stuffed with protein), arroz con choclo (rice and corn), anticuchos (skewers), and the list goes on. More recently I have tried to be more cognizant of the soy sauce in some Peruvian dishes like the lomo saltado (I sometimes would sort of ignore the fact it probably had gluten since it’s not as “obvious” as something like bread, but that was a bad idea), but there still is plenty for me to try.
The other week I was talking with some friends and Pollos y Jarras came up. It’s a Peruvian restaurant just about a block from my house. It’s right next to CVI.CHE 105, which is one of my favorite Peruvian restaurants. One of my friends told me that the food was delicious and they had gotten a big platter of meat with a lot of sides to share for like $50. Both the strong review and the apparent value caught my attention.
I remember reading an article about Pollos y Jarras when it first opened. The pictures of the space (very artistic and hip) looked very cool and by that time I loved Peruvian food. I added it my to-do list, but never got around to doing it. When I moved downtown, I noticed it right next to CVI.CHE 105 (I thought Pollos was in another part of downtown for some reason), but I was a little confused as to how it differed from CVI.CHE 105. I didn’t know (nor did I expect from the trendy look) that it was a more affordable Peruvian option.
I was now intrigued and more committed to checking it out. Just a few weeks later one of my best friends was in town for work. Unfortunately his schedule was packed with dinner meetings and events, but on his last day I took him to La Latina and not surprisingly he went NUTS for how good the food was. Fortunately/unfortunately he missed his flight later that day, so he was here for an extra night. Given him going crazy over arepas, I thought Peruvian food could be a good bet for dinner and we went to Pollos y Jarras.
The space of Pollos y Jarras adds a cool experience to the meal. We went to the restaurant section and there was a little bit of seating downstairs (mostly bar-like seating where you can watch the food being made), but we were sent up an elevator to the upstairs. Upstairs the walls are covered in neon advertisements, graffiti, and art. We had a table at the front of the restaurant looking out the floor-to-ceiling glass windows down onto the street. There also is a large outdoor bar on the first floor lit up in neon lights that looks very very cool.
Pollos y Jarras’ menu seems to be largely Peruvian, but with a number of more general Latin dishes. It has a lot of Peruvian food I’m familiar with from other Peruvian restaurants like causa, ceviches, and anticuchos. There is quite a bit more meat and I’d say that’s a noticeable difference from places like CVI.CHE 105 (in my experience). They also have dishes I associate with other Latin cultures (though I might be wrong on that) like salchipapas (French fries and sausage). There is plenty to pick from and I think a great sampling of Peruvian dishes and general Latin dishes.
The waitress came to take our drink orders and then came out with little cups of complimentary soup. The soup is aguadito de pollo, which has chicken, rice, vegetables, and herbs. I’m generally apathetic about soups, but this was really good! It was very flavorful and hit the spot. My friend was obsessed and was already really excited for this meal (he also got excited from all the spinning rotisserie chickens when you first enter the restaurant). The friend who had told me about his experience at Pollos y Jarros later told me they had ordered extra sides of the soup because they thought the sample was so good.
After the success of lunch, my friend deferred to me on what we should order. I picked out a number of different things for us to share. The salchipapas caught my attention because I love French fries and I love sausage. I also thought it would be a good intro dish for my friend to try. They offer salchipapas with French fries or salchiyuca, which comes with fried Yuca sticks instead. You can also opt for chicken or chorizo instead of the sausage or get a combination of the meats and/or a combination of the French fries and yuca. I really wanted to try the fried yuca sticks version, but thought the salchipapas would be a better first dish for my friend.
Next I turned to the meats. A few months ago I had an incredible steak antichucho at Coya Brickell. It was in this absolutely delicious red pepper marinade and was probably one of the best pieces of beef I’ve had in my life. I would have been looking at the steak regardless, but that Coya experience particularly made me zoom in on the different steak options. The Churrasco “padre y senor mio” seemed to be the best bet. It comes marinated with Peruvian peppers and spices. My friend really wanted to try some chicken after seeing the chicken on the rotisserie spits, so I did an order of the chicken anticuchos. Those two dishes, plus the salchipapas, seemed like a good amount of food, so I then focused on the sides. I went for a side of the arroz con choclo and the fried yuca.
The salchipapas came out first. It didn’t come with any pink sauce like Colombian salchipapas, but there were four sauces on the side (I think this might come with your meal in general). I’m spacing a bit on the exact specifics of the sauces, but I would describe them as a mayonnaise-y sauce with herbs and spices, an aioli sauce, a mustard/curry sauce, and a salsa/pico de gallo dip. We spent a lot of time dipping the fries in the different sauces and dribbling them over the French fries and sausage. I’ve always enjoyed salchipapas and liked trying/using the different sauces. My favorites were the aioli-like one and the mustard/curry one. My friend liked them all, but we agreed enough on the mustard-curry one to drizzle that all over the main dish (see picture below).
Our main entrees and sides all came out together and I was very excited for this feast. I’ll start with what I was most excited for- the steak. It was not the explosion of rich and spicy pepper marinade like the anticuchos at Coya, but this was an excellent steak. The pepper marinade was subtle and while I’d prefer the explosion of Coya’s anticucho if I was forced to pick, I did like that with this steak you were able to focus and enjoy the tender and juicy steak itself and then were reminded of the marinade as a nice aftertaste. I always love a good tender skirt steak, so I am very happy this is just a block away!
The next thing I was excited for was the fried yuca. I love yuca (when it’s done right). I am a big fan of the baked yuca at Whole Food’s grill. I was even more excited for the fried yuca when it came out. Understandably for fried, it is very crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside. The yuca flavor and heartiness I love is still there. I am most definitely getting the salchiyuca (the fried yuca with sausage on top) next time! I am actually very excited for when that opportunity arises.
The arroz con choclo was pretty solid. The corn kernels inside were very large, which took a second to adjust to. The chicken similarly was solid. It came more as a platter instead of skewers with roasted potatoes and corn. The chicken was marinated in a lot of different spices. I liked the flavor of the spices for sure and it had a heavy grill taste to it. I was surprised at how much I liked the roasted potatoes. They looked like basic potatoes and there wasn’t anything specific that made it amazing, but they were crispy and just one of those things you suddenly realize after a while that you’ve eaten them all. The gigantic kernels of corn were at first a little labor intensive to get off the cob, but interesting to try given their size and texture (a little more tough than the smaller yellow corn kernels).
I was very happy with my first (and long overdue) meal at Pollos y Jarras. I thought it was a great introduction to Peruvian food (and Latin food in general) for my friend and I think it will be a go-to spot with visitors in town. There really are just tons of options beyond what we sampled. I’m excited to try the salchiyuca and also more of the different kinds of meat. There also are ceviches and causas and other fish options. I think everyone will be able to find something they enjoy. Everything we tried was delicious and some had some excellent flavors and/or textures. The space is also very cool (check out the pic of the outside bar far below). I think it all adds a hip and trendy Miami vibe to a pretty affordable meal (relatively speaking). With the plethora of Latin food in Miami, I would say this is a high recommendation when you’re in the area (there is plenty of incredible food all around Miami). However it may be the worth the drive if you’re farther away and looking for an “experience” with dinner, because I think it’s a great one for a fun date night or dinner out with friends. I will certainly be back (and not just because I live a block away)!
Pollos y Jarras- 115 NE 3rd Ave, Miami, FL 33132