June 2006 Cheap Eats

Things are not quite what they seem at this Bolivian restaurant, whose unpronounceable name conjures up the image of an Incan god. Inside the storefront exterior across the street from Loehmann's Plaza in Falls Church is a bright, clean dining room and a genial waitress who provides a warm welcome without uttering more than a couple of words of English.

Food comes out of the kitchen in heaping portions. Tear off a hunk of one of the light, airy breads and sink it into the small bowl of salsa, a fresh green-pepper purée, and you begin to glimpse the possibilities.

Bolivian menus are typically endless variations on a single theme–beef. This one is more varied. There are steaks topped with two fried eggs, a generous portion of beef tongue, and several varieties of beef soup–notably an excellent wine-spiked asado borracho teeming with carrot, onion, tomato, red and green peppers, and a hard-boiled egg. There's also duck–a generous leg, thigh, and breast lightly deep-fried and served with a trio of starches: rehydrated potatoes mixed with eggs, rice, and boiled potato. You can have the same plate with a juicy fried quail instead.

Lots of Bolivian restaurants serve falso conejo, a pounded steak battered and deep-fried to approximate the texture and taste of rabbit. This one serves a kind of falso falso conejo: It's actually rabbit. Juicy, not stringy or tough, the lambreado de conejo is bathed in a tangy red-wine-and-tomato sauce and topped with strings of onion.

There's more atmosphere here on a weeknight than at many places on a weekend. If you're lucky, you'll be serenaded by a customer keening along to a ballad playing on the three TVs.

Appetizers $5, entrées $11 to $11.50. Open daily for lunch and dinner.