on January 11, 2007
Mama Amerika is a great little restaurant overlooking the beautiful Plaza de Armas in central Cusco. I was skeptical upon walking into this modest restaurant that the food would be any good, and that it would not be some Americanized rip-off-the-tourist waste of time. I was totally wrong on both counts! The food is wonderful and the service is even better.The waiters here don’t patronize you like in some other restaurants, where they will literally be milking for a tip the entire evening. Instead, they offer some great smiles, suggestions on food, and don’t even attempt to rip anyone off. The food is very inexpensive, very high quality, and the chefs and waiters pride themselves on serving you such delicious food at such amazingly low prices. The entrées at this restaurant range from around $2 to $5. For these penny-pinching prices, the chefs whip up some of the most delicious, gourmet food you’ll ever have. Visibly suffering from soroche, or altitude sickness, my waiter promptly brought me a glass of hot mate de coca (coca leaf tea), which eased my suffering immensely. The tea was served in a nice tall glass, lightly sweetened to bring out the almost shredded-wheat taste of the tea. It was a great way to begin my meal. Immediately after the tea, the waiter brought out a free pisco sour, a local brandy drink with egg and sugar, much like an Italian zabaglione. This was offered to me free of charge, and was possibly the best drink I had ever had. I would have liked it even better after my meal, though, as a dessert drink.To begin, I ordered a plate of appetizers – ham and cheese stuffed bread sticks (much like fried pizza dough), served with a huge bowl of guacamole, for $2. This would cost around five times that price in the USA, for the sheer amount of food served. The sticks were succulent and a great accompaniment with the zesty guacamole.My main course was a filet of alpaca (similar to a llama) stuffed in cordon blue style with ham and cheese, covered with a rich mushroom gravy. In English, this dish would be something around Alpaca Cordon Blue a la King. The meal was $6, and was served with a side of hand-cut thick French fries, and a small ring of rice, garnished with finely chopped vegetables. Simply one of the best meals I have ever tasted, and at a price that will make you want to beg to give them more.The feature that tops off the whole experience is the location, overlooking the Plaza de Armas. People-watching while sitting in such prime seats should cost a couple twenties, but barely scratches the $10 mark.
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