Peruvians have been immigrating to Chicago since the 1950s, and over time, they’ve developed a tight-knit community. So when Karlo Caceres, who lost his job at Basilico Ristorante during the pandemic, began selling Peruvian dishes out of his apartment, diners flooded in for lomo saltado and ceviche, tastes of home. In late 2020, he was able to open Avenida Peru.
Caceres serves classic comida criolla dishes like ají de gallina, shredded chicken in ají amarillo pepper sauce, along with the kind of bites found on Lima’s streets. Order anything with his hand-cut fries. In salchipapas, they’re mixed with chopped hot dogs and served with sauces, like a peppery ají verde. It’s the kind of dish any hot-dog-loving Chicagoan can get behind. Though you’ll find lomo saltado — beef tenderloin with fries, tomatoes, onions, and a smoky soy sauce — all over town, I’ve never had one as good as this, thanks to those crisp-tender fries and a deft hand with the wok.
Ceviche is Peru’s most famous dish, and Caceres serves a great one with chiles, fried calamari, and both soft and crunchy corn for a textural delight. Also a delight: On weekend mornings, Avenida Peru turns into a sanguchería (sandwich shop), with offerings like pan con chicharron — pork belly and sweet potato tucked into a bun. It’s a breakfast classic and more proof Caceres knows what Chicago’s Peruvian residents want.