When it comes to certain cuisines, Manhattan addresses raise eyebrows and suspicions. Here? In the East Village? Peruvian? It can't be the real thing.
Fans expect to travel closer to communities of native cooks to find restaurants that cater to the most discerning palates, Peruvian or otherwise.
Mancora caters to East Villagers, and a raucous subset of them at that. Its jaunty room, an explosion of seashell chandeliers, octopus murals and fish nets, is buoyant with sangria-sipping crowds and South American soundtracks, especially on weekends.
Its owner, Shahed Ahmed, worked in Peruvian restaurants in Texas before opening Mancora's first location on Smith Street in Brooklyn three years ago. Last March he opened a branch in Manhattan, on a corner better known for barhopping and Bangladeshi buffets than Peru's beloved ceviches and bargain-priced rotisserie chickens.
Enrique Peraldo, the chef of both restaurants, skews classics toward the mainstream, with sauces that are milder than you would expect, and presentations that are fancier. The servers — a smiling, sprinting bunch, many of whom hail from Lima — trumpet traditional specialties, like chicha morada, a spicy-sweet pineapple punch infused with cloves, lemon and cinnamon, and tinted with purple corn.
“In order to like this place, you have to reallllly love cilantro. Luckily for me, I enjoy it. My favorite dish here is the pollo saltado, it's delicious and has kept me coming back to this restaurant. Great for one on one dates, very dark/candle-lit and intimate.”
“Surprisingly authenitc and deliciously fresh ceviche, fish dishes and creative specials make this homey, friendly neighborhood a favorite.”
A great "nabe." Tasty and beautiful food, prepared with obvious pride. Weekday lunch and weekend brunch specials can't be beat
"Brings you back for more. Humble, quaint restuarant with delicious home cooking. "
"The food at this place is excellent. The combination of good food, good staff and the cultural tunes playing is delicious. We will be visiting again very soon."
Thank the Peruvian gods for this amazing chef who conjures up fresh seafood and fixings like nowhere else. Fair prices and imaginative fare make this a gem in the midst of an open space where you aren't touching toes with your table neighbors.
Posted by EL from Long Island on 12/11/2011
Worth the trip “My wife and I recently had the pleasure of dinner at Mancora. Although the space is small and the tables small and the place is crowded and a little noisy, the food and service were excellent.”
Posted by Angie M. on 06/30/2011
Best Chicken! “Every time I come to NYC I stop here for a Rotisserie Chicken...They season it perfectly and it's not just the skin, it seeps all the way through the meat. I am in love!”
Posted by Ciao NY on 12/27/2010
My wife and I really like this place. “So many medium to bad reviews of this place and I just don't understand it. I have no idea if the food is authentic Peruvian or not but I'm Italian and my wife is Colombian and we're always surprised at how good it is, especially considering how reasonably-priced it is. The things we tend to get are the shrimp and avocado app, the fish stew (a real standout) and the half/chicken with boiled yucca. And we get a bottle of Spanish wine that they charge about $30 for. Seriously, we eat at Mancora about once every 4-6 weeks or so and have never had a bad meal or problem with the service at all. Not even close. And we've never spent more than $60-$80 for a complete meal for the two of us. Again, I can't imagine what there is to complain about this place.”
99 First Avenue, New York, NY, 10003 | 212.253.1011 | fax 212.253.1035