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A group of my friends and I, taking a cue from the Washingtonian Magazine, have been dining at local restaurants that charge about $25- $35 for a meal (drinks, a shared appetizer, entree, tax and tip). The list of 100 ‘strants has not a chain in the bunch and includes mom’n’pop establishments where fresh food prevails and 1/2 bottle of wine nights are rampant. There ain’t a logo shirt, plastic cutlery or bolted down chairs and tables to be found. We’ve tried 2 distinctly different Italian places and a Peruvian place. Next up is Polish.
One of the reasons I love doing something like this is that it’s a pleasure to find little restaurants where the waitstaff have a food jones as big as mine and the menus change frequently according to whim and season. I especially love little places where they take care of their customers and don’t ask questions. Like last night- we went to Costa Verde in Arlington and they not only had our 8 four tops lined up in the center of the place (which was not large) but they kept adding as we requested.
Costa Verde does Peruvian seafood and they do it well. The cream sauces aren’t cloying, but flavorful and a slightly spicey, which complements the slightly chewy (and I mean “slightly”) squid, shrimp, incomparably cooked scallops (which don’t appear to have taken steroids as they do in most places) and chunks of fish. Dinners go for $12- $16 but what you’re really getting is dinner and lunch the next day.
They do an amazing Pisco Sour, a decadent Tres leches cake and ceviche that is somehow mild but with a vinegary bite at the same time. Very tasty. The little octopii were attractively plated and not too chewy. Chewiness in squid and octopus is something I have always expected and was pleasantly surprised to find lacking at Costa Verde.
The fried yuca was a good side dish- starchy and delicious with the cream sauces. I wasn’t able to try anyone’s steak because I was so caught up in the experience of my own seafood stew, but I heard they were meh, which is a shame. I would go back for that and for the alfajores- especially since I just found out what an alfajor is.
We were lucky to have several Peruvianas in the group who could decipher the menu because the staff’s English was not 100% aside from one helpful hostess. But then that’s part of the charm- you don’t go to a sushi shop staffed by French folks, you find one where the sushi chef is Japanese and knows his stuff. The folks at Costa Verde are warm, welcoming and full of enthusiasm for good food- what more could you ask for?
Costa Verde Restaurant
946 N Jackson St
Arlington, VA 22201-4424
PH: 703 522 6976