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Don Churro Cafe, South American Cuisine in Chantilly

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I haven't seen a thread for this restaraunt yet and I thought it deserved a shout-out.

Don Churro is a South American restraunt located in the cullinary mecca known as Chantilly. Its on the back end of the Sully shopping center near Bungalow Billiards and the new Lotte.

This place is rapidly becoming one of my go-to places by virtue of the good food and its proximity to my office.

I talked to one of the owner once and he said that the menu consisted of their favorites from south american cuisine. The menu consists of tapas and full sized entrees.

Some of the tapas are really quite good. Our favorites are the Papa rellena (frided mashed potatoes filled with ground beef) and the Chicharron de calamar (fried calamari). The Gambas al alillo are also delicious.

My wife has enjoyed the sandwiches (Barros Luco and Churrasco Palta). From the entres I have had the Pescado al grill, Fritada, Hornado and Bandeja Paisa. I'd reccomend all of them.

The only miss we have had on the menu is the Coclo con queso which quite literally is a piece of corn served with cheese. The cheese was good but the dish did not work for us.

Most important for us is that its been a pretty easy place to take our one year old. He's been pretty content to sit in one of our laps and shovel pieces of potato, ground beef and avacado into his mouth. If you're stuck in Chantilly and don't want to go to Sichuan Village or Thai Basil, give this place a try.

Their website is at: http://www.donchurrocafe.com/

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Some of the tapas are really quite good. Our favorites are the Papa rellena (frided mashed potatoes filled with ground beef) and the Chicharron de calamar (fried calamari).

We went yesterday for the first time. We also had the Papa Rellana and Chicharron de Calamar. We enjoyed both. The calamari was very tender and easy to chew. We added a couple empanadas: Saltana Boliviana and De Queso. I'd order both again. The De Queso (just cheese filling with sugar on top) would make a decent, cheap ($1.99) dessert. I thought a couple of the sandwiches looked really good and will probably try one on my next visit.

Service was very good. Our waiter was very knowledgeable about the menu and food.

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I enjoyed a really nice meal here this week.

The chevice, specifically the "De Pescado Peruano" is $13.95 and comes with three sides: two types of corn and sweet potato slices.

The fish is not cooked except in the lime marinade. It is a very "bright" dish but not overly lime flavored. It is cut into bite sized strips and comes with raw sliced red onion, which again is tempered by the strong marinade. The fish is light and fresh, the marinade seems to cook it to a nice degree of firmness.

The corn sides are 'regular' and toasted. The regular corn is very large kernels of corn, any one of which is the weight of 6 or more kernels of what comes in American cans of corn. It is meaty and tasty, more like lima beans than corn. By the time I started eating the fish, the fish marinade had run into the corn - and that was fine by me.

The toasted corn is served in a leaf of romaine lettuce to help keep it out of the marinade. The kernels have shrunk a bit from the toasting and are lightly salted - they tasted a bit like "corn nuts" without the excessive salt and dryness that make that snack so harsh - there's just enough moisture left in these kernels to make them a little chewy inside.

The sweet potato came in two thick slices, served cooked and plain. Given the bright nature of the rest of the food, this sweet addition was welcome to the palate. These too were served in a lettuce leaf.

A side dip is a peppery complement to the fish marinade, the way that neon green and neon yellow go together - both will grab your attention, but things get interesting and nice when you mix them. The spice level was enough to know there was a heat source but not enough (in moderation) to cause reactions.

All in all, very nice. Every once in a while, I want a meal that is light and bright - not meat and potatoes. This is it, and the next time I have that craving I'm headed to Chantilly

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I work in the Fair Lakes area and have been to this place twice so far, and certainly plan on returning. I am Ecuadorian, and there aren't very many places to get Ecuadorian food around here so I was very excited when I found out about Don Churro. For those who like knowing a little bit about their food, their menu includes little flags next to their dishes to indicate what country they come from. I thought that was a novel idea that many "pan asian" restaurants could adopt to give us an extra tidbit of information about the food we're ordering.

I have only tried their Ecuadorian dishes and those are pretty tasty, although their are some inconsistencies which lead me to believe that no one in the kitchen is actually Ecuadorian.

One of my favorite Ecuadorian dishes are llapingachos - mashed potatoes flavored with achiote oil, rolled into patties, stuffed with a chunk of cheese, and fried until a crispy skin forms on the outside. I know, right? Well, Don Churro's llapingachos are pretty much on point. The cheese isn't quite the flavor of the farm cheese generally used in home recipes, but they can't really be faulted for that. I have ordered these both times I've gone and will do so again.

Most, if not all latin american countries have their version of an empanada. The one unique contribution to this category that comes from Ecuador is the "empanada de morocho." Morocho refers to the grain used to make the dough, and in my experience these empanadas traditionally have a shredded chicken and olive filling. The filling may well vary, but as is evident from the name, the dough is the central characteristic. I may be wrong on this, and if I am, forgive me, but I'm pretty sure that they're not using morocho for their dough. This empanada tasted more like a deep fried saltena than anything else. It may not seem like a big deal, but if they're not going to do it right, why bother putting it on the menu?

I also tried their hornado, which is seasoned roast pork, and this was quite good. Served with some mote (hominy), tostado (toasted corn described in ventworm's post above), avocado slices, and llapingachos, this was a real tasty plate. The pork was tender and delicious, the sides were on point, and as I mentioned above, the llapingachos really are worth the trip. One small quibble - the menu indicates that this dish includes "encebollado" which they mean to refer to the pickled thinly sliced red onions which are a traditional garnish on many Ecuadorian dishes. The only thing is, this isn't "encebollado," it is "encurtido de cebolla" or "cebolla encurtida." Encebollado is actually an entirely different dish which is more of a stew, often using fish as the protein. Again, not a huge deal, but it wouldn't be so hard to research things a little to get them right. Sort of makes me wonder how many things are labeled wrong on menus where I don't have the background knowledge to know better!

The only hot sauce they provide is a green one which may be Peruvian in origin, and is quite delicious. The traditionalist in me longs for "aji de chochos" - traditional hot sauce made with tamarillo (tree tomato), chiles, and lupini beans - but I may be the only guest who would actually use it so I can understand why they don't have a tub of it on hand.

All in all, this place is a welcome change to the standard lunch options and has consistently offered tasty, if slightly inaccurate, versions of some of my favorite Ecuadorian dishes. There are many more Ecuadorian options I'll have to tick off the list before moving on their other dishes, but I plan on returning often, so that shouldn't be too difficult!

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"The only hot sauce they provide is a green one which may be Peruvian in origin, and is quite delicious. The traditionalist in me longs for "aji de chochos" - traditional hot sauce made with tamarillo (tree tomato), chiles, and lupini beans - but I may be the only guest who would actually use it so I can understand why they don't have a tub of it on hand."

Thanks for the very informative review; I've been meaning to get back to Don Churro. Regarding hot sauces, rest assured there are plenty of us out here who are always looking for new hot sauces to try, and the one you describe sounds delicious!

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Since last July I've had it in mind to try Karaikudi next time I had an evening meeting in Chantilly. This time Mr P was going to that meeting as well, and since Karaikudi opens at 5:30 it would be perfect for a quick meal.

Except they don't open at 5:30 (please update your website). They open at 6:00. Not enough time, Mr P is running late, now what do I do? what else is around here... Don Churro Cafe? Last time I needed a quick meal in Chantilly I almost got sick from a crappy Mexicanoid place, don't want to do that again... wait, not Mexican, looks promising.

So I got a table and ordered some pabellon criollo (marinated pulled beef with black beans, fried plantains, and rice) and aji de gallina (shredded chicken in yellow chili sauce with potato, egg, olive, also served with rice) and waited for my husband.

At that early hour the place was half full of Spanish-speaking people who had pulled tables together so they could watch a football match on the big screen while drinking sangria and eating dinner. Half of them had yellow jerseys on. The other half cheered and jumped up and down (literally) when Venezuela scored. A few other diners wandered in; two young women in office clothes got girly-looking cocktails, then one of them slipped on a yellow jersey.

It was like eating in someone's den, with waitresses. But I don't mean this in a bad way: I had a blast (when in Rome...) watching the game.

And the food was great, too. The beef had a slightly sour, slightly winey flavor that was compelling. The chicken was really rich but delicious in a comfort food kind of way. We had churros and tres leches for dessert, then slipped out the door not long after the place erupted in cheers and hugs when Ecuador scored. A man rushed over and made a point for thanking us for dining with them.

Next time this meeting happens in Chantilly I'll make a point of eating here. Thanks, Karaikudi, for being closed, otherwise I would never have found Don Churro.

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