The industrious epicenter of D.C. could use some vibrant brunch activity to liven its streets. Farragut Square has a whole lot of corporate buildings and restaurant chains, but not a whole lot of dining establishments where you can kick back and brunch for a while. Pisco Y Nazca has just joined the neighborhood downtown, and is adding much-needed energy and Peruvian flavors to the city.
We’ve been watching the development of Pisco Y Nazca as its signage foreshadowed that a vibrant restaurant was about to hit the scene. Of course, we had to see what would come of such bold statements and bright colors. The result was close to what we anticipated. The space is large, awesome for groups, and has a well-lit bar for a swanky date night, or a drink by yourself — no shame in that. The nautical and almost tropical tones of the interior are calming yet radiate energy.
The staff is incredibly helpful, especially if you’ve never had Peruvian cuisine before, and are eager to show you the ropes. At first glance, the menu doesn’t offer a large amount of brunch items, and, besides the ceviche, there’s a lot of pork on the menu. We’d recommend branching out of your classic brunch go-tos at Pisco Y Nazca for a chance to experience some different cuisine. Here are the food dos and don’ts:
Do order the mimosa and sangria. It’s always nice to see an extra something special on a brunch cocktail menu. This sangria has bourbon and tons of acidic citrus to accompany the red wine base. And, for $18.00 you can go the bottomless route. For the quality of booze being served, and the price of brunch dishes, we’d say this is a good deal. The mimosa at Pisco Y Nazca is fresh and smooth. The non-basic drink has a touch of passionfruit for added sweetness and Peruvian speciality. This is a very good mimosa and we will now consider having passionfruit on hand at all times.
The pulpo and empanadas are ideal contenders for your brunch order. I order octopus more than I should when I go out to eat. To my disappointment, it’s often chewy and overcooked. Pisco Y Nazca has held true to its standard of seafood excellence. The octopus is well adorned and cooked perfectly. The chicken and beef empanadas are crispy, savory, moist, and great for sharing. They come with a fiery aioli sauce, too — your fork will find its way into this sauce well after you’ve consumed the actual empanada.
Despite my millennial-driven affinity for avocado toast, don’t order the avocado tostada. While we appreciate the trend-forward thinking, this tostada just doesn’t belong on this menu. The avocado isn’t really present behind the overly-mayonnaise-y egg salad piled on top of the bread of a thick schmear of avocado, and the underripe, out of season tomato doesn’t add much flavor nor acidity. The dish feels tangential to the emphasized Peruvian flavors.
Another dish to fall slightly short of excellent was the Causa Del Pancita. Although the menu has a little bit too much pork, the Causa Del Pancita is well executed with a crispy, buttery pork belly and a Peruvian style Hollandaise. The Cause del Pacita is interesting and well suited for any eggs Benedict lover, but it was a little saucy and messy in our opinion.
Lastly, definitely order the French toast. The French toast is by far the best brunch item at Pisco Y Nazca. Thick bread is coated in Rice Krispies; is soft like a bread pudding, and somehow still maintains its crunchy integrity. Accompanied by a maple dulce de leche, the dish has just the right balance between classic brunch and Peruvian dessert.
The Bitches say: 4 champagne flutes. The menu is not your typical brunch, and may be best suited for dinner, but we applaud the Peruvian twists on some American classics.
Pisco Y Nazca serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 11 a.m.