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Nazca Mochica, Chef Roberto Castre's Modern Peruvian at 16th and P Street in East Dupont


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A friend has suggested dining at Nazca Mochica, a new "contemporary Peruvian" place on P Street in the spaces formerly occupied by Skewers and Café Luna, and then by Heritage India and Malgudi. Downstairs is Mochica, a "pisco and cebiche bar", while upstairs is Nazca, a "contemporary Peruvian restaurant".  I had never heard of this place before, and don't know when it opened. Has anyone been?

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I went a couple of weeks ago to the upstairs Nazca restaurant and had a favorable impression.

The Pisco Sours are very smooth and high octane.  The food all around was solidly good to very good, if a bit pricey.  We did a couple of cebiche orders and basically ordered all the entrees between out group of 6.  I had the lamb entree which was a bit fatty and boney, but had great flavor.  When we were there, the upstairs, Nazca, menu is still under development with limited selection, they actually list dishes that are "coming soon."  The decor is very nice and modern, you kinda forget that you are on a side street in Dupont.

If you are going to try it out, I would recommend going for drinks and snacks at the downstairs Mochica bar.  The menus upstairs and downstairs are different, and the downstairs bar is more snacky, small plates, cebiche, and drinks oriented, with a wider selection.  I got the feeling that upstairs is still a bit of a work in progress in terms of menu.

Most importantly, we went with a native Peruvian and she said that it was the first Peruvian restaurant that she has been to in DC that tasted of home.  For the record, she has been to Ocapa on H under the opening chef and liked it, and went to China Chilcano and thought it was terrible, like openly mocked it (although this was before the Ocapa chef joined the China Chilcano team).

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I dined with friends at the Mochica half of the restaurant this past Sunday. One of my friends had been once before, on a Saturday, and said it had been crowded. It was largely empty on Sunday, at least from 7 pm till about 8:30. We had all three cebiches on the menu and one tiradito (I have no idea what the distinction between them is). Also the fried yuca. Everything was fresh and delicious, and the yuca was so good we got a second plate of it. We had six plates and five cocktails among the three of us, and including tax and tip it came to about $65 each. And we all left satisfied as well as pleased. It's a smooth, cool place, with good service (except for an overenthusiastic busser) and the only thing I'd fault it for is the unnecessarily loud music. If I still lived in the neighborhood I'd probably be in this place once a month or more.

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Wow. I lived a half block from there for more than a decade. I can't believe Skewers and Cafe Luna are gone (not that either is any great loss). What I would have given to have a quality Peruvian restaurant nearby when I lived there.

P.S. This is definitely closer to 17th and P than 16th and P.

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Wow. I lived a half block from there for more than a decade. I can't believe Skewers and Cafe Luna are gone (not that either is any great loss). What I would have given to have a quality Peruvian restaurant nearby when I lived there.

P.S. This is definitely closer to 17th and P than 16th and P.

Such an auld lang syne moment.  At some point in the mid 80's my ex had a condo/apt/office near there on Mass.  The building is definitely closer to the 17th street side of that block.  I feel like I ate at every restaurant on 17th street going up 2 or 3 blocks (or as many blocks as there were restaurants)  endless multiple times with Skewers being one of our faves.  (I think Skewers predated Cafe Luna)

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It did, by several years if my memory serves me well. I never thought much of either.

...and in the mid to late 80's there were nowhere's near as many good, interesting, unique quality dining opportunities as there are now at all price ranges.  I recall liking skewers then and relative to everything else up those several blocks on 17th.  The reference to skewers stuck out and reminded me of that area and time.  Do you recall better places to dine in that area and time???   I don't.

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At some point in the mid 80's my ex had a condo/apt/office near there on Mass.

That may have been my building -- the Boston House? The front entrance was on Mass, but the back entrance was on 17th about a half block south of P.

I didn't get to the neighborhood until the late 90s, but there were pretty slim restaurant pickins even then. Sushi Taro may have been the best nearby option. I also lived above Trio's/Fox and Hound's for 2 years.

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That may have been my building -- the Boston House? The front entrance was on Mass, but the back entrance was on 17th about a half block south of P.

I didn't get to the neighborhood until the late 90s, but there were pretty slim restaurant pickins even then. Sushi Taro may have been the best nearby option. I also lived above Trio's/Fox and Hound's for 2 years.

Yeah, I think it was the Boston House.  ....just separated by a decade more or less.   ;)   I'm sure I/we ate everywhere up those several blocks on 17th...but for some reason Skewers sticks out to me.  I don't recall 17th street being a beacon of better dining/eating at least not in the latter half of the 80's....but there were a fair number of restaurants.

My vague memory was that Sushi Taro was there at the time (late 80's), but I bet they upped their game after some number of years.  I recall better fresher sushi elsewhere but my recollection is thin.

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...and in the mid to late 80's there were nowhere's near as many good, interesting, unique quality dining opportunities as there are now at all price ranges.  I recall liking skewers then and relative to everything else up those several blocks on 17th.  The reference to skewers stuck out and reminded me of that area and time.  Do you recall better places to dine in that area and time???   I don't.

The 17th St. strip certainly wasn't a culinary destination back in the day when I lived in the neighborhood, which was 1981-1993, but it wasn't a wasteland either. Sushi Taro, mentioned above, was far less up-market then, but it was a pretty good sushi joint. Where Komi is now was a pretty good Chinese place, the name of which I forget, and then a Roberto Donna place, originally, I think, an instance of Rucola, and then something else. Dupont Italian Kitchen was always dreadful, and I can't believe it's still in business and apparently thriving, but next door was a really wonderful little Latino place called El Tropical, which I loved, and which was probably the best 17th-Street restaurant during the two or three years it existed, in the mid-1980s. At the corner of 17th and R was a good Mexican restaurant called La Fonda, where I had several meals that were all probably better than anything I had at Skewers. Just to the east on R St. was a Washington institution, the fairly highly-regarded Spanish place called El Bodegí³n, which I never dined at. I agree that Skewers wasn't bad, and was better than most of the places on the strip, like the aforementioned Italian Kitchen, and Annie's, and the Trio (although you could eat well and cheaply at the Trio if you knew what you were doing, which I did).

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Yeah, I think it was the Boston House. ....just separated by a decade more or less. ;) I'm sure I/we ate everywhere up those several blocks on 17th...but for some reason Skewers sticks out to me. I don't recall 17th street being a beacon of better dining/eating at least not in the latter half of the 80's....but there were a fair number of restaurants.

My vague memory was that Sushi Taro was there at the time (late 80's), but I bet they upped their game after some number of years. I recall better fresher sushi elsewhere but my recollection is thin.

The 17th St. strip certainly wasn't a culinary destination back in the day when I lived in the neighborhood, which was 1981-1993, but it wasn't a wasteland either. Sushi Taro, mentioned above, was far less up-market then, but it was a pretty good sushi joint. Where Komi is now was a pretty good Chinese place, the name of which I forget, and then a Roberto Donna place, originally, I think, an instance of Rucola, and then something else. Dupont Italian Kitchen was always dreadful, and I can't believe it's still in business and apparently thriving, but next door was a really wonderful little Latino place called El Tropical, which I loved, and which was probably the best 17th-Street restaurant during the two or three years it existed, in the mid-1980s. At the corner of 17th and R was a good Mexican restaurant called La Fonda, where I had several meals that were all probably better than anything I had at Skewers. Just to the east on R St. was a Washington institution, the fairly highly-regarded Spanish place called El Bodegí³n, which I never dined at. I agree that Skewers wasn't bad, and was better than most of the places on the strip, like the aforementioned Italian Kitchen, and Annie's, and the Trio (although you could eat well and cheaply at the Trio if you knew what you were doing, which I did).

As long as we're reminiscing, I don't recall the food, but I do recall fun times with coworkers at Peppers restaurant back in the 90's.

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At the beginning of my time in the neighborhood in the late 90s I remember Sushi Taro as just a neighborhood sushi joint. I haven't eaten there in many years, but it seems to be a lot more upscale now from what I've heard.

I'm pretty sure Komi was an outpost of Il Radicchio at some point as well as a coffee shop for awhile (Cyber Cafe?). I used to get my lattes there before I discovered stovetop espresso makers.

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At the beginning of my time in the neighborhood in the late 90s I remember Sushi Taro as just a neighborhood sushi joint. I haven't eaten there in many years, but it seems to be a lot more upscale now from what I've heard.

I'm pretty sure Komi was an outpost of Il Radicchio at some point as well as a coffee shop for awhile (Cyber Cafe?). I used to get my lattes there before I discovered stovetop espresso makers.

Doh! Yes, it was Radicchio, not Rucola as I said above. Pepper's I think may have been there while I still lived in the neighborhood, but I'm not sure. It was subsequently Boss Shepherd's (unrelated, I believe, to the restaurant currently using that name), Jack's, and now Agora, I think. I don't think I ever ate in any of those incarnations, although maybe I ate at Pepper's once.

If you go to 16th and P Streets looking for a restaurant, you'll be disappointed to find a Methodist church.

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I ate at Peppers a bunch mainly because I lived two doors down for 2 years. I don't remember Boss Shepherd's -- could that have been before Peppers (and before my time in the neighborhood)? The Peppers space was Le Pigalle briefly in addition to Jack's and now Agora.

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I ate at Peppers a bunch mainly because I lived two doors down for 2 years. I don't remember Boss Shepherd's -- could that have been before Peppers (and before my time in the neighborhood)? The Peppers space was Le Pigalle briefly in addition to Jack's and now Agora.

I think you're right, Boss Shepherd's came before Peppers. I can't find dates for either. And what came before them? I thought it was Sun Foods, which was a little grocery that sometimes had the best produce in the neighborhood, but I think Waitman shot that memory down several years ago, saying Sun Foods was next door. So I can't remember. This is the sort of thing that you often can't find out on the Internet, much as you think you ought to be able to. Like when did Schwartz's Drugstore (Connecticut and R) close?

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Dupont Italian Kitchen was always dreadful, and I can't believe it's still in business and apparently thriving ...

In all the years I lived in the neighborhood I never ate at Dupont Italian Kitchen. I'm guessing their patio helps them stay in business.

I've never heard of the Dupont iteration of Boss Shepherd's or Sun Foods or Schwartz's Drugstore, so those must have all been before my time.

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At the beginning of my time in the neighborhood in the late 90s I remember Sushi Taro as just a neighborhood sushi joint. I haven't eaten there in many years, but it seems to be a lot more upscale now from what I've heard.

I'm pretty sure Komi was an outpost of Il Radicchio at some point as well as a coffee shop for awhile (Cyber Cafe?). I used to get my lattes there before I discovered stovetop espresso makers.

So one last restaurant "auld lang syne" comment   --as really the references to the current occupants upstairs and downstairs is far more interesting, IMHO.

I don't have a "food memory" of sushi taro.  I remember going up the stairs above the pharmacy.  While that is a weird recollection, I was leasing space at the time and had leased a lot of retail space to stores and restaurants.  I had this theory in that ANY little thing that makes it harder to walk into the store or restaurant is a detriment to business...any step up or down...let alone walking up a stairway as with Sushi Taro.

On the sushi side...it was a time that if and when new sushi places would open I'd try them.  I wasn't an expert, but had visited with people far more knowledgeable and experienced than I.  Far less menu diversity than there is now.   Freshness was the key.  Sushi Ko always stood out.  (not just with me..but via my "experts").  Also there was a quality place in Silver Spring, as I recall.  We'd try places in DC, VA, and MD

Sushi Taro didn't impress at the time.  Meanwhile sort of amazing about Sushi Ko.  They maintained such a great reputation and were such a big draw for a very very long time--a couple of decades.

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In all the years I lived in the neighborhood I never ate at Dupont Italian Kitchen. I'm guessing their patio helps them stay in business.

I've never heard of the Dupont iteration of Boss Shepherd's or Sun Foods or Schwartz's Drugstore, so those must have all been before my time.

I'm pretty sure it's the upstairs venue that keeps "DIK" bar open.

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