We heard, following visits to The Chicken Place and El Pulgarcito de Callao, that Wheaton’s best Peruvian food lives at Cabanita (11305 Elkin), so I lunched there recently (following on Wheaton Calling’s recent review).
Cabanita’s lomo saltado features dense-in-a-good-way fried potatoes, fresh tomato/red onion, only okay beef strips (not supertender, but one doesn’t expect high-grade beef in this kind of dish), and plate-licking-good sauce. The sauce was so good, I used every last grain of white rice to sop up every last drop of sauce. I didn’t really lick the plate — I do that only in rare, exceptional circumstances, when Mrs. Me isn’t looking — but the rice and potatoes did their job so I didn’t have to.
Only one negative: my diet coke was flat. Service was good, which is no surprise because I’m not too much trouble and the small restaurant — maybe 10 tables for max 30 people — had only two other customers. My server did humor my mediocre Spanish without resorting to too much English, which is always appreciated. Cabanita’s menu is much shorter than, say, The Chicken Place, but the food is at least as good if the lomo saltado is any indication. One of the other two customers ordered the seafood soup special and it looked goood. Will branch out from the good-but-non-adventurous lomo saltado next time.
What else? Red/yellow/white walls with Peruvian photos and artifacts, lots of laminate, drop ceiling, a typical Wheaton family-run dive — less divey than El Pulgarcito but less ambience than Chicken Place. I like it, and kind of amazing that all three are within a block of each other. Another point in Cabanita’s favor: spotless restrooms, unfortunately an uncommon feature (the spotlessness that is). We will return, and not just to use the facilities or lick the plates.