What You’ll Be Eating at Del Campo (Pictures)

Victor Albisu serves up cheffy takes on South American classics at his new Penn Quarter steakhouse.

By: Jessica Voelker

Inspired by the cuisines of Peru, Argentina, and their regional neighbors, Del Campo is a fine-dining restaurant that also embraces the rustic side of South American eating—note the Argentinian penguin decanters lining shelves behind the wine bar, and the bar-goers negotiating towering street-style sandwiches, egg yolk running off their chins.

Chef/owner Victor Albisu loves all things smoked and charred—even the bread comes with smoked olive oil—and blackened food shows up everywhere. For instance: Grilled octopus and avocado top a fancy version of a Peruvian causa with grilled octopus, tuna confit, and ramps prepared three ways. Berkshire pork chicharrones—an appetizer offering ribs and belly—taste both tender and charred.

The secrets to Del Campo’s haute take on Peruvian chicken? A special spice rub and lots of duck fat. The organic bird is accessorized with aji amarillo aïoli, green chili purée, and fries.

Albisu says Del Campo’s early diners have leaned toward the chivito sandwich on the bar menu, opening wide to wrap their lips around layers of Wagyu beef, mortadella, ham, provolone, fried egg, grilled olive salad, and hearts of palm mayonnaise, as well as the tuna ceviche and the chef’s asado boards, soon to be featured at a reservations-only chef’s table with a view into the kitchen.

A happy hour menu of $7 drinks (including grilled-juice cocktails)has already debuted at the bar. Coming soon: a streetside patio and lunch service—the latter should start in about two weeks.

Del Campo. 777 I St., NW; 202-289-7377. Dining room open Monday through Wednesday 5:30 to 10:30; Thursday through Saturday 5:30 to 11. Bar open Monday through Wednesday 5 to 11:30; Thursday through Saturday 5 to midnight. Restaurant open Sunday 5 to 10.

Opening in the coming weeks, the nine-seat asado bar serves as Del Campo’s chef’s table.
A stacked version of a chivito—an Uruguayan sandwich that traditionally layers steak, ham or bacon, mayonnaise, egg, olives, cheese, and tomatoes.