I remember very clearly when I first met Oscar Escudero, the owner of Lima Rotisserie Chicken & Peruvian Cuisine in the New Tampa Center plaza on Bruce B. Downs (BBD) Blvd.
It was when Oscar opened, only a couple of weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down the world in March of 2020. We wondered together not just if, but also how long, the pandemic would affect his new eatery.
Needless to say, it wasn’t an ideal time to open a new restaurant. But, while Lima is a true sit-down restaurant, it also adapted very well to take-out (and delivery) only and, while it’s been a rough 15 months, Lima has weathered the storm, thanks to its outstanding food and an owner committed to success.
When I did my first review of Lima, I mentioned that Peruvian food has long been considered the best of the Latin cuisines and was actually named the #1 cuisine in the entire world by Bloomberg.com in 2017.
But, whether Peruvian food is already among your favorites or you’ve never previously tried it before, you owe it to yourself to give Lima a try.
When you walk into Lima, the heady aroma of Peruvian-spiced rotisserie chicken immediately lets you know you’re in for a delicious meal. But, while the crispy skin and moist, delicious chicken is hard to resist, it’s far from the only reason to visit Oscar’s place. Last year, I told you about the Conchitas Parmesana (baked scallops on the half-shell, topped with butter and parmesan cheese) and the perfect fresh fish Ceviche de Pescado appetizers (there also is a fish ceviche served with a trio of sauces, and a shrimp, mussels and calamari ceviche, too), as well as the Lomo Saltado Lima, which is hearty beef tenderloin tips wok-sautéed with spices, sliced onions, fresh tomato wedges, cilantro and a touch of soy sauce and vinegar, served over a bed of crispy French fries.
Speaking of wok-sautéeing, I also mentioned that I was surprised that Peruvian cuisine was heavily influenced by the Chinese engineers and builders who came across the Pacific and settled in Peru to help build the railroad that went from the desert coast of Lima on the Pacific Ocean to and through the Andes mountains that divide the north from the south of the west coast South American country.
Among the wok-sautéed dishes available at Lima include the “lo mein”-style Tallarin Saltado de Pollo that features pulled “a la brasa” (rotisserie) chicken (although you also can have it with steak or seafood), with sliced onions, tomatoes and cilantro, blended with delicious lo mein noodles, soy sauce and vinegar. The fried rice has scallions, egg and a distinctively nutty taste and is topped with everything from chicken and crispy noodles to the Arroz con Mariscos (seasoned rice topped with mixed seafood — shrimp, clams, calamari and mussels).
Speaking Of Seafood…
As you long-time readers know, I’m highly allergic to shrimp, mussels and lobster, so I can’t indulge in many of the newer seafood dishes on Lima’s menu. However, since my last review of Lima in these pages, I have found at least one new favorite — the Pescado a la Chorillano (fresh snapper or basa fillet, lightly fried and topped with sautéed onions, tomatoes, cilantro, spices and a splash of wine) shown in the top left photo on the previous page.
However, in addition to the new fish dish I love, Oscar says the pandemic caused him to add some new menu items to make sure he utilized all of the seafood he already was ordering, so I had photographer Charmaine George, who took the pictures on both of these pages, sample Oscar’s other new seafood options on the menu.
Among those are the Jalea, which is breaded and seasoned seafood deep-fried and topped with Peruvian salsa, and the Pescado a la Macho, which includes a mix of seafood atop a breaded filet of fish sautéed in a creamy yellow pepper/wine sauce. Charmaine and another patron at Lima the day we shot most of these photos gave enthusiastic thumbs-up to all of these dishes.
Lima also features Cusquena Peruvian and other domestic and imported beers, plus delicious soups, salads and chicken and beef tenderloin sandwiches, as well as sides of yuca, tostones (fried plantain slices) and some of the tastiest black beans and rice I’ve ever tasted.
Lima Rotisserie Chicken & Peruvian Cuisine (19062 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.) opens every day at 11:30 a.m. and stays open until 7 p.m. on Sun., 8 p.m. Tues.-Thur., and until 9 p.m. on Fri. & Sat. For more info, call (813) 304-0205, visit LimaTampa.com or see their ad in our latest issue for a great 15%-off coupon!