Pisco, plantains, and other Peruviana star at Paradita Eatery.
Paradita Eatery brings a fast-casual approach to Peruvian street food to the Emeryville Public Market.
Photo by Lori Eanes
Peruvian cuisine is colorful, assertive, creative, and fun. You might say all food is fun, but hey: Any cuisine that puts potato chips and french fries inside its sandwiches is the life of the party.
Michelin-starred chef Carlos Altamirano—whose restaurant group includes San Francisco’s Mochica and Walnut Creek’s Parada, among others—opened Paradita Eatery in Emeryville’s Public Market this spring. At its sleek counter, guests order rotisserie chickens, Inca Kola-barbecued-pork sandwiches, beef-heart skewers, rice-and-lentil tacu tacu, and other Peruvian favorites to take away or to enjoy at salvaged-wood outdoor and indoor tables while viewing a busy open kitchen.
“We had been in negotiations with the Public Market for several years to launch our fast-casual concept,” Altamirano explained. “When we were offered the location we have now, rather than a kiosk within the market, it fit the vision for what I wanted Paradita Eatery to encompass.”
That vision entailed modern Peruvian street food in all its hauncaína and rocoto-peppery glory, along with frothy pisco sours, purple chicha morada, and other drinks.
In Peruvian-Spanish slang, paradita means “little marketplace”—which captures “exactly what the Public Market in Emeryville is: a bustling hub of activity with different vendors peddling their goods,” Altamirano said.
“I like the energy of the market, not to mention all the development happening around that area right now.”
He thinks what surprises North Americans most about Peruvian food is its diversity: spices, flavors, and cooking techniques, not just from throughout Peru and South America, but also France, Spain, Japan, China, and beyond. Sometimes many of these manifest in a single dish, such as Paradita’s fried-chicken-and-coleslaw sandwich and its french-fry-topped, soy-sauce-and-cilantro-flavored stir-fried-beef-tenderloin bowl.
“I wanted Paradita to be fast casual without compromising quality,” Altamirano reflected. “The food needed to be accessible, easy to prepare, and quick to serve. We took some of the most famous Peruvian dishes and transformed them into bowls and sandwiches, along with skewers and salads,” to create “sustainably packaged, delicious meals for everyone.”
Paradita Eatery, 5959 Shellmound St., Emeryville, 510-808-5073, Paradita.com.