50 Best Restaurants: Traditional Peruvian cuisine puts Inca Social on the list

From the bright, intricate decor to the traditional dishes, this modern Peruvian spot is worth a visit.

three pieces of food with crab
Photo by Rey Lopez

By Stefanie Gans and Rina Rapuano

Inca Social

Vienna | Peruvian | $$

From the first moments inside, taking in the glittery red tiles behind the bar, the eye-catching wall designs created with bright green moss and the large-but-not-quite-life-sized stuffed animal alpaca near the door (or is it a llama?), there’s a sense that fun is high on the agenda at this modern Peruvian spot. Its location near the Dunn Loring Metro and the 23 tap lines featuring mainly Virginia-made craft beers and ciders make it a natural happy hour spot, and the festive patio is a great place to unwind. For those uninitiated in Peruvian cuisine, this is a great place to right that wrong. Servers are extremely friendly in explaining traditional dishes like causa—a base of cold potato cakes that taste like potato salad that’s mashed, formed into a disk and topped with mounds of chopped and dressed beets, chicken or shrimp. Inca balls are another winning appetizer, featuring that same causa potato mixture stuffed with cheese or ground beef that’s then breaded and fried. Lomo saltado, a stir-fry of soy-glazed beef, onions and tomatoes, celebrates the influence Asian cuisine had on some of the country’s most iconic foods. Or keep things lighter with an order of the El Cuzco salad, a squat cylinder of avocado, quinoa and mango with a passion fruit-lime vinaigrette. // 2670 Avenir Place, Vienna

This post originally appeared in our November 2019 issue’s 50 Best Restaurants cover story. For more food reviews, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

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