Prosaic neighborhood aside, Mamaveca is on a very short list of restaurants in Oklahoma serving truly authentic Peruvian cuisine. No sign outside tips you off to that fact other than a lone wind-blown banner; all indications are it’s another Tex-Mex joint.
Mamaveca is in a freestanding building that originally housed a Charlie’s Chicken franchise. It’s next to the parking lot of one big-box store and across the street from another, which is about as white-bread America as it gets.
Inside, however, the clues start immediately with a chalkboard announcing, “El Peru esta de moda,” and offering
South-American-centric Pisco Sour cocktails for six bucks. There’s a
fuzzy wool picture of a llama with the word “Peru” woven into it over
one booth. Owners William and Monica Chunga are natives of the South
American nation, and they’ve proudly been serving its cuisine here for
of children’s crayon drawings charmingly adorn the wall and booth next
to the cash register by the front door. A collection of sombreros rests
on a shelf.
salsa and queso arrived at the table in two shakes of an alpaca’s tail
after we were seated. In the dining room, all was decorum. Occasionally,
the staff disappeared into the back, where they hollered back and forth
to each other good-naturedly, which was highly entertaining.
attractive sounds included snappy salsa and Latin jazz on the house
sound system. The place has a good atmosphere, although the tabletops
are questionable. They’re the laminated kind with a profusion of
business ads under the plastic that suggest the best service for fixing a
leaky faucet or having that clunker towed away.
menu is divided into Mexican and Peruvian parts. Tex-Mex far outnumbers
the South American dishes. Peru’s unique geography with sea coast,
plains and mountains, along with a welcoming attitude, has created a
cuisine with international inspirations.
($10.99) is Peruvian fried rice that’s essentially not much different
from what Chinese immigrants brought to Lima over a century ago.
Vegetarian, chicken and seafood versions are tossed with egg, green
onions and bean sprouts. Soy sauce doesn’t seem right around chips and
salsa, but who am I to judge?
Saltado ($10.99) stirs chicken, onions and tomatoes with noodles into a
lo mein plate that can compete with any Mandarin joint around. The
sauce is particularly delicate and flavorful due to the unusual addition
of fresh, ripe red tomato. Ceviche — seafood marinated in lime juice
and Peruvian yellow and red chile — is served in a few different
versions. Ceviche de Mixto ($11.99) casts a wide net with shrimp,
mussels, calamari and tilapia that’s served with sweet potato, slivers
of red onion and corn.
you’re not into the ceviche process, in which the acidic lime juice
marinade takes the place of actually cooking the fish over heat, a
similar deep-fried Jalea Mixta ($12.99) is an alternative.
does a pretty plate. These dishes are artistically arranged on the
plate with an eye to color and placement of lime wedges, sprinkles of
oversized hominy kernels and cilantro garnish.
The portions are generous, and attention is paid to careful preparation of both Mexican and Peruvian food.
Flour tortillas are made in-house and have a substantial homey texture.
server recommended choosing pork for the Tex-Mex Tamale Dinner ($8.99),
and her advice was spot-on. By the end of the month, plans include
adding more menu selections such as ribs, chicken with papas tacos and a
version of rotisserie chicken.