100 Very Best Restaurants 2014: La Limeña

The dining room at La Limeña in Rockville, Maryland. Photograph by Chris Campbell.

Strip-mall restaurants where the average check hovers around $50 for two are rare on a list like this. Which just goes to show what Emma Perez has accomplished here. A passionate restaurateur, she hasn’t let the limitations of her space deter her from putting forth a meal that delivers the breadth, color, and excitement of her native Peru’s cooking. A strong Pisco sour is the most pleasing way to kick things off, paired with either a ceviche—a parfait glass teeming with lime-marinated fish, shrimp, and onions—or a tiradito, which applies to a filet of tilapia that same technique of using citric acid to cook a dish; the sweet, white fish is fanned out like a flower atop a spicy yellow-pepper sauce. The best of these plates combine the comfort and soulfulness of a home-cooked meal with the smart, attentive details of a pedigreed restaurant, perhaps nowhere as memorably as in a crispy, head-on trout with slivers of fried garlic and superb oiled rice.

Open: Daily for lunch and dinner.

Don’t Miss: Anticuchos, grilled beef hearts; aji de gallina, chicken in an egg-and-white-wine sauce; causa, tuna layered with potato; lomo saltado, strips of marinated beef, tomatoes, and onions served over fries; alfajores, shortbread-and-caramel cookies; lucuma (a subtropical fruit) ice cream.

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.

Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.