From I street NW El Chalan looks very unappealing – if at all noticeable – but walk down a few steps into this English basement and you will find a cozy Peruvian restaurant with amazing food and friendly staff.
The owners immigrated from Peru many decades ago and they’ve had this restaurant since the 80’s. The walls are covered with Peruvian art and the food is authentic, you can even find some dishes that are rarely available in DC.
My personal opinion is that the Peruvian cuisine is one of the best in the world, but some people only know the very popular (and delicious, I grant you) rotisserie chicken. My favorite dishes at El Chalan are the classic lomo saltado and the aji de gallina. I also love their ceviche, which is a lot chunkier than in other places. Of course, the right thing to drink is a pisco sour.
The only caveat is that, as with other Latin American restaurants, they don’t have many vegetarian options.