For 14 years, Betty Vasquez has sold her Peruvian specialties at farmers markets from Gig Harbor to Kingston. Next month, she’s taking her recipes - tamales, ceviche, quinoa and anticuchos - to a brick-and-mortar location.
Expect an opening for Taste of Peru sometime in December at 5500 Olympic Drive N.W. - in the storefront that formerly held Quizno’s.
Diners will find moderate prices, fresh Peruvian food made by Vasquez and her family members and a casual environment. The cafe will be accommodating for families and follow the typical fast-casual setup for which Gig Harbor has become known. Taste of Peru’s style of service will mimic that of Blue Agave, Blazing Onion, Pizzeria Fondi - order at the counter and find your own seat. The recipes will be similar to dishes Vasquez has served at farmers markets through her catering company of the same name. She'll continue catering, as well as serving at annual festivals, such as the Folklife Festival and Bumbershoot.
Taste of Peru marks something unusual for South Sound - the opening of a restaurant featuring a menu solely focused on Peruvian cuisine. Restaurants of that type have operated here before - such as Chasqui in James Center in the 1990s - but Peruvian food is somewhat a rare find. It’s more likely to run into tamales (cornmeal dough cooked in a banana leaf), ceviche (raw fish cooked in a citrus bath) or anticuchos (meat skewers) as solo offerings at restaurants with South American leanings, such as Asado on Sixth Avenue. Taste of Peru, explained Vasquez and her daughter, who will help operate the restaurant, will stick with Peruvian favorites, but also plans to offer fusion dishes as they’re prepared in Peru. They noted rice and stir fries inspired by Chinese and Japanese immigrants who have influenced the cuisine of Peru.
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Vasquez will operate the restaurant with her children and husband, who works at Boeing. Find more information here.