El Pike, Seven Corners, VA


That’s what I said when our server told us that El Pike was out of salteñas because from my past experience, their salteñas are better than Luzmila’s, surpassed in Falls Church only by the unearthly versions at La Caraqueña.

Knowing the size of the entrees that were going to arrive, my young dining companion and I went ahead and skipped the appetizers – he ordered a Diet Coke ($1.55) while I had what was about the damndest thing I’ve ever drunk: an El Inca Bi-cervecina ($3.89). This was on their beer list, and I’d never even heard of it before, so I ordered it blindly.

The bottle looked interesting enough, and it poured out a dark, syrupy brown. It both smelled and tasted sweet, and was unlike any beer I’d ever tasted. I looked at the bottle and was stunned to see only a 3% ABV listing – was I drinking a low alcohol beverage?

Indeed I was.  This “beer” is produced by the same folks that make Quilmes, and comes across on the palate as a slightly sweet iced tea with hints of black licorice in the nose – it may have been low alcohol, but this could not possibly be low calorie. I wish I could say I liked it, but it’s just not what I was in the mood for. Still, it was interesting.

Carne Asada (Lomo) ($10) was steak pounded thin, with salad, rice, boiled potatoes, and two fried eggs. Silpancho ($10) was lightly breaded steak, also pounded thin, with fried potatoes, rice, two fried eggs, and salad. These two dishes sound similar, and with the exception of the potatoes (the fried potatoes were just french fries; the boiled potatoes were outstanding even though they were very plain), were virtually interchangeable.

It’s extremely frustrating to order dishes containing overcooked eggs, and both entrees had thick, rubbery fried eggs with the yolks completely hard. It would have been oh-so-beautiful to let the runny yolks mix in with all the rice, potatoes, and juices from the beef, but the hard-egg issue seems to happen more often than not to me at Bolivian restaurants, and it’s just not fair!

A ton of food for the money, and all of it blue-plate quality. El Pike was empty on a late Friday afternoon, but later that night would turn into a pulsating disco. By then, we were long gone, but still full from our outsized plates of food.

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