Jimmy’s Peruvian Restaurant & Catering
Sacramento, CA 95821
Growing up, my dinner plate could have potato or rice, but never both. Peruvian food is different. Fries and rice often share the plate, making carb-loving people everywhere rejoice. I heard that Jimmy’s Peruvian Restaurant would satisfy my cravings, so I drove through a sea of liquor stores in search of this hidden gem.
Jimmy’s has historically existed within another restaurant; this one Mexican, offering mostly standard taqueria fare. The décor was sparse, often a sign of good food to come. A tiny note at the bottom of the menu read: “Most of our dishes are cooked with soy sauce.” Another good sign.
We started with an authentic Peruvian appetizer: Causa Rellena. Apparently authored by some vengeful Grandma out to torture her grandchildren, it looked straight out of a ’70s Betty Crocker recipe card. Shaped like a small three-layer cake, chicken salad is sandwiched between two sliced orbs of mashed potato and decorated with a single olive and a sliver of boiled egg. It was hard to get past the dense, grainy texture of cold mashed potato.
Our entrées also fell flat. The Seco de Carne was fork-tender, but lacked the expected stew-like consistency, causing two lonely beef medallions to float around like islands lost in a lagoon of cilantro sauce. The Lomo Saltado, with freshly sautéed beef, tomato and red onion was hearty, but lacked the sparkle I associate with Peruvian dishes. Luckily, the Aguadito de Pollo saved the day with a mega-salty cilantro chicken broth so robust, it’s no wonder Peruvians consider it a hangover cure.
On our next visit things perked up. As soon as the friendly staff (so friendly they never batted an eyelash at my creative Spanish pronunciations) brought us a bountiful plate of the Milanesa Special we knew what was different: the rice. Peruvian rice is sautéed with garlic, oil and salt. And since meat, potato and rice are the basics for most entrées, how the rice is cooked is pretty important.
Whomever ruled the kitchen this night knew what they were doing. The Milanesa’s breaded chicken breast was pan-fried until crisp. We drizzled some of Jimmy’s neon-green aji verde sauce (jalapeños, cheese, onions, garlic, salt, pepper) on the fries, rice and Milanesa. It was so flavorful, my companion stopped wanting to share.
My favorite entrée Bistec de Lo Pobre (aka poor man’s steak): juicy, well-seasoned flat steak paired with superb rice, the saltiest of fries, the tangiest Salsa Criolla (red onion, ají peppers, cilantro, lime juice), topped with two oily fried eggs and a caramelized, sour-sweet plantain. This was it. The sparkle that is Peruvian food. It’s not a delicate cuisine. It’s unabashedly designed to fill bellies and minds with hazy, carby, satisfying moments of joy.
Change is on the horizon at Jimmy’s. The Mexican restaurant’s owner left and the two restaurants will become one. This move may iron out some of the inconsistencies.
Jimmy’s also plans to expand its menu. Will it add more Peruvian cuisine, or maybe there’s some Mexican/Peruvian blend to come? Peruvian tacos? Lo Pobre burritos? Add some handmade corn tortillas to that Lomo Saltado and you’ll make everyone’s culinary dreams come true.