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La Limeí±a, Ritchie Center in Rockville


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So, what did you guys think of La Limena?
Oops, I guess we forget to eat and tell.

It was good. I had a rotisserie chicken that was well seasoned and very moist. The skin could have been a tiny bit more crisp, but that's a minor quibble. One of my dining companions had the tripe and another had a Cuban sandwich that was huge. Both emptied their plates and I took the rest of my chicken home for dinner.

A worthwhile stop. I look forward to exploring the rest of the menu.

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Scene: Wednesday night, around 6pm, in the DanielK household, while DanielK is watching his daughter at her gymnastics class.

Cut to 11 year old boy, heading into the kitchen to look for a snack. "Mom, what's that smell?"

Camera to distracted, attractive woman in her 30s, sitting at a computer. "Nothing, honey, just preheating the oven."

Cue to clock, show 5 minutes elapsed.

Cut again to boy, going to kitchen for (another) snack "Mom, something really smells weird."

Pan back to woman, leaning away from computer and glancing towards kitchen. "Hmmm, what's the blue smoke coming from the oven?"

That would be the remains of the blue plastic colander that my wife placed in the oven the night before along with other dirty dishes, in a fit of laziness with the housecleaners on the way over the next morning. After scrubbing some of the mess, and putting the remains of the melted colander into the trash, she calls me to inform me that, instead of heading home for dinner when the daughter's class ends momentarily, I'm taking her and the kids out to dinner.

I'd had a burger for lunch at a sports pub near my office (Barca!), she'd had Chinese, so we compromised on La Limena.

I'm not sure why we don't go here more often; it's 10 minutes from the house, and we've not had a bad meal there yet. Service is friendly, and they finally have a liquor license, though the promised dishwasher is still shunned in favor of styrofoam plates and plastic silverware. The Peruvian specialties are reliably good, and the Cuban side of the menu is pretty decent as well.

I seem to have misplaced the takeout menu, so this is from memory, and I'll have none of the dish names. Usually at least one of us gets the excellent rotisserie chicken, but not tonight. My wife got the potatoes with cheese sauce for her appetizer; she almost always gets this. It's never been my favorite at ANY Peruvian restaurant, so I'll take her word that it's good here. For her main, she got a couple of tamales. Different than the Mexican brethren, but still full of corn flavor (and pork!). I got an appetizer that is essentially a basket made from fried plantains, filled with shredded meat (almost like ropa vieja). For my main, I had the chicharones, fried boneless pork chunks (8 golf-ball sized pieces on the plate) with fried yuca on the side; I took home half (hey, it was a late lunch for a 2:45 kickoff). The almost-12-year-old got the Cuban Steak, served with a fried egg, onions, rice, salad, and fries. If this sounds like a ton of food, it is. But, since he's my height before his 12th birthday, he hoovered the plate down before I could get a taste. Can't promise it was good, because he eats anything that isn't nailed down, including about half of my appetizer. The 9-year-old daughter got the Cubano sandwich, hold the mustard and pickles (shame!) I asked for them on the side, figuring if she left half behind, I could take the mustard and pickles and have myself a nice lunch the next day. Indeed, between her snacking on my appetizer, and stealing quite a few pieces of yuca from my plate, she gave up halfway through the sandwich, which made my mid-day meal today a very pleasant one.

Definitely a target for a $20 Tuesday; you can't spend $20/person here, even if you include beer, tax, and tip. It doesn't have the elegance of La Canela, just a mile away in the new downtown Rockville, but this is good, homestyle Peruvian and Cuban food, and they should have more business than they do.

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I'm not sure why we don't go here more often; it's 10 minutes from the house, and we've not had a bad meal there yet. Service is friendly, and they finally have a liquor license, though the promised dishwasher is still shunned in favor of styrofoam plates and plastic silverware. The Peruvian specialties are reliably good, and the Cuban side of the menu is pretty decent as well.

Completely agree. We were there last night, and in addition to everything you said they've decluttered the dining room by removing an enclosed glass entranceway. This really opens up the dining room (and is a seemingly minor but welcome upgrade).

We had the tostones rellenos with beef (it says ground on the menu, but was definitely shredded) for an app, and I had the anticuchos (beef heart on bamboo skewers). Even if you are hungry, as I was last night, this is still a good amount of food to topple. The tostones were great, as were the anticuchos. The sarsa criolla is a nice condiment that really seems to go with anything on my plate when I'm there. We've only been there a few times this year, but its definitely on our regular rotation. The dining room wasn't full by any means last night, but there was a good flow of people in and out for a Monday night.

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Thanks to a quick browse of the DR Dining Guide, today I journeyed into La Limena for lunch. I am normally not anywhere near that part of Maryland, but had a nearby appointment. Once I hit that part of town, the Guide, the posts in this thread, and my trusty iPhone were a boon in helping me discover the:

Best. Yuca. Ever.

As an incidental side dish to the Ensalada de Camarones (shrimp salad), the steamed yuca at first struck me as visually unappealing and a yawn waiting to happen. Like every other water-tortured version of this dish I have ever tried, I anticipated mealy texture and not-quite-cooked-through interior for the thick, short, pale wedges. I have what some may call an unhealthy love for the fried rendition of this cassava carbohydrate. And until today, I thought the only way to enjoy yuca was to rely on deep vats of oil.

My poor, sad, wasted lie of a life. Now I know better.

The steamed yuca served at La Limena was a Peruvian revelation. Deep, earthy, rich, hinting at sweet flavor with the layers of striation that we all know and love from the fried stuff. Dipped into the garlicky green sauce served automatically with each table, this was righteously addictive and disappeared embarrassingly quickly.

The *only* downside with this plating was the excess water left behind on the serving dish. I feel like I am kicking the Gratitude Gods in the...well, that other word that starts with g...for even calling out this flaw. The steamed yuca was that good.

Along with that star of the side dish show, the Ensalada included five well-cleaned, appropriately steamed, chilled, and notably fresh shrimp (well, previously frozen I am sure, but fresh for today's purposes). The salad included a layer of almost flavorless oil, which if I ordered it again, would ask to avoid. Especially since the salad also comes with the house dressing on the side, the oil added sheen but robbed the palate of natural flavors. With slivers of raw, red onion and red bell pepper to round out the plate, this smaller portion ($8.95) was a light option for a warm day.

Oh, let me not forget the purple. The menu noted that the restaurant creates their own Chicha Morada, so I ordered that immediately. Anything with clove, sign me up twice boys and girls! The version at La Limena was jammy, juicy, with a quick kick of spicy brisk, and not nearly as sweet as most chichas. I know it sounds odd, but if a drink ever *tasted* purple, this is it. Well worth trying this homemade refreshment.

Service was welcoming and friendly. However, the salad did take over 15 minutes to arrive. The yuca was freshly steamed, I imagine, and it's hard to shortcut such processes. Although the wait was longer than communicated, I am all the more glad I ordered it.

One note to new visitors, the soundtrack today was loud, jaunty, and instrumental. To my untrained ear, it sounded like instrumental mariachi music (?). This was catchy as hell, but I did find myself racing through my meal to keep pace. Perhaps that is part of the master plan given the 15 or so tables in this space. But even at prime time for lunch, only a handful of tables were filled. Most orders appeared to be from a steady stream of takeout customers.

On my walk out after the meal, I noticed the rotisserie-cooked chickens stacked patiently behind a clear partition. The skin did not look crispy which sounds on target with what JPW observed, but that would not stop me from ordering it next time. Several tables were diving deep into their plates of poultry, leaving not a trace of their green and yellow sauces (a garlic-intensive aji verde, and a well-balanced Peruvian mayonnaise with mustard and lime juice kicking around in the background). I also browsed past a display of what appeared to be freshly made desserts such as alfajores and a drop-dead gorgeous flan.

Don't know when I will next be in the South Rockville Pike area, but I will be making La Limena part of that plan. Until then, I'll be dreaming about that steamed yuca.

Best. Ever.

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Just want to add a quick data point for this place. Inferior to La Canela in every way. The food ingredients were inferior (which really comes through with ceviche), the saucing was unsubtle, and the service was at best inattentive. The prices are a bit lower than La Canela, but the portions are noticeably smaller so the price per pound is actually higher. The place is jammed packed too.

I feel like this might be one of those places that gets a pass for being in a strip mall. Or they had an insanely off-day last night.

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