After launching The Freakin Incan Peruvian Street Food trailer and catering business in Roswell in July 2014, chef Mikiel Arnold opened a brick-and-mortar version in March. It’s located in a narrow strip center storefront on Alabama Road that also serves as the company’s commercial kitchen.
The look: Arnold and crew transformed the space into a cozy cafe that recreates some of the lively energy of the street food scene, while offering comfy seating and table service. The centerpiece of the design is a wall in front of the kitchen that’s shaped and painted to resemble a food truck, complete with a window that serves as the take-out order counter.
The scene: Early one afternoon, guests were sparse in the dining room. But a couple stopped in to pick up a large catering order of mahi mahi and shrimp ceviche — also available on the menu in smaller portions ($10/$13). And soon after, a group of homesick Peruvians in soccer garb showed up to peruse the offerings and order a round of Inca Kola.
The food: Arnold, who was born in Peru to a Peruvian mother and American father, has expanded on his mostly small plates food trailer menu to include entrees and daily specials. Recently, it was adovado de pollo ($10), a hearty chicken dish served with white rice and yucca. Other favorites include Chinese-influenced lomo saltado ($11/$13), a stir-fried beef dish served with white rice and French fries; an empanada filled with lomo saltado ($5); and black mussels topped with spicy pico de gallo ($8).
The drinks: Beyond the lemon verbena-meets-bubblegum-flavored Inca Kola, the short drink list ($2) includes Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite and bottled water. There’s also house chicha morada, a still beverage, a bit like exotic Kool-Aid, made from purple corn boiled with pineapple rind and spices and sweetened with cane sugar.
The extras: Not so Peruvian kids plates ($5) include fried chicken or hot dogs with fries. On the dessert menu, look for shortbread cookies filled with dulce de leche ($3), rice pudding ($4), and vanilla, coffee or cheese flan ($3).
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