While there's certainly no shortage of bellisimo restaurants in Carlton, sometimes our grumbling bellies want more than the usual pizza, pasta 'n' risotto fare. No offence, Nino.
In our hungry shuffles through the tree-lined streets, we've stumbled upon a Carlton North restaurant that has answered our prayers. Offering everything from fat empanadas to lip-tingling cebiche and deliciously smoky, chargrilled meats, this dining gem serves up some of the best South American food in Melbourne. Not a parmesan wedge in sight.
Melbourne, meet Piqueos, the Peruvian-Argentinian restaurant that brings a dose of fiery Latino spirit to Rathdowne Village. And damn, we couldn't be happier for it!
The first port of call? A Piqueos cocktail, of course. Recently launched, Piqueos' spring cocktail list is sure to whet your appetite, with exotic mixes like the Ligero Beso, a 666 vodka, pommer vert and huacatay, a Peruvian black mint. If you're going for the authentic South American experience, pop on your drinking boots and explore a pisco sour or two. Piqueos offers the classico as well as the Maracuya, a mix of Campo de encanto pisco, passionfruit and lime. Trust us, it's hard to stop at one.
Okay, you've navigated your way through the cocktail list, it's time to plonk yourself down and get stuck into the South American food. Oh, the food! An oyster shot swimming in tiger's milk, the cloudy, intensely sour curing liquid, is a sure to fire up your stomach. Follow it up with an empanada or two, the tasty pastries stuffed with beef, olive and egg. Oh, and don't forget about the famed snapper cebiche. The diced pink snapper is cured in-house with Piqueos' tiger's milk, served with sweet potato puree and a smoky kick from the aji rocoto. Take a bite and you'll understand why we deemed it one of the best in Melbourne.
It only gets better from there, folks. Piqueos' pièce de résistance is the parrilla, a traditional Argentinian grill that churns out succulent, charred meats, with everything from Peruvian-spiced baby chicken to lamb rump, cooked over the embers 'til pink in the middle. Yum! If you're looking for an authentic South American feed, order a plate of the anticucho de corazón, spongy cubes of chargrilled beef heart, red onion and aji panca, a dish traditionally served on the streets of Lima. It doesn't get more Peruvian than that. The standout, however, is the tira de asado, beef short rib slow-cooked for a staggering 48 hours. Yep, 48 hours. It's fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your-mouth, I-could-die-happy-it's-that-good good. Pair it with a Malbec from Piqueos' Argentinian-focused wine list. Winner.
Dessert? Why, it's all about the dulce de leche, baby! Piqueos' dessert menu is short, sweet and thick with the golden stuff. The suspiro limeño, roughly translating to 'the sigh of a woman', is a favourite on the foodie traps, with a thick dulce de leche base, glossy meringue top and generous slug of plum pisco liqueur. Women, be warned. Also sigh-inducing are Piqeuos' picaronas, sweet potato doughnuts pumped full of chocolate, dusted with purple corn sugar. Yep, I'll have what she's having.
Folks, don't trek through the Andes alone – Piqueos' private dining room is the perfect spot to gather your gang for a night of South American feasting at one of Melbourne's best restaurants. We suggest you go for Piqeous' tasting menu, that will see you dine on cebiche, meats from the parilla and oh-so-much more, all for a mere $65. Plus an extra $65 for matched wines. Now that's a pretty sweet deal, if we do say so ourselves!
Piqueos will not only keep your belly full, it'll keep your wallet nicely packed, too. Head to this South American restaurant on a Tuesday evening for Neighbourhood Fiesta, where locals can get a plate of food, plus a Quilmes beer or soft drink, for just $25. Chargrilled meats straight from the parilla, served with sides of Piqueos' tasty salads and vegetables? Heck, how could you say no to that.
Foodies, clear your calendar – Piqueos has a few foodie treats planned! On the 4th of December, the Piqueos crew will be teaming up with their good friends from Exclusive Vines to host a Patagonian dinner, a delectable four-course meal with matching Patagonian wines for just $85. Later in the month, Piqueos will be celebrating their second birthday with a South American fiesta, taking the kitchen outside and chargrilling beasts whole, just as the Argentinians do. Held on the 21st of December, the event kicks off at 12pm and continues 'til the Malbec runs dry. Keep an eye out for more info, Listers.
Searching for authentic (not to mention delicious) South American food in Melbourne? Trek no more.
TUL Note: Today's List Love post is proudly sponsored by Piqueos and endorsed by The Urban List. Our sponsored posts will never be a secret — the List Love seal will be stamped on any sponsored material you see on the site. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make The Urban List possible.