First Bite: Lima Brings Vibrant Peruvian Fare to Concord
Chef John Marquez returns to his roots.
Talk about heart. With one of the Bay Area’s most impressive résumés, John Marquez has returned to his humble roots to open a Peruvian-style restaurant facing Concord’s Todos Santos Plaza. One taste of Marquez’s grilled potatoes with skewered beef heart—spicy, meaty, and without a trace of offal—will convince you this is no ordinary chef.
Born in Lima, Peru and raised partly in Danville, Marquez opened the stylish Artisan Bistro in Lafayette in 2009 with a sophisticated menu that reflected his time spent with acclaimed chefs, including Daniel Patterson and Thomas Keller. But at Lima—its menu dotted with heirloom corn, Peruvian potatoes, and vibrant aji amarillo peppers—the cuisine better reflects Marquez’s time spent cooking with his grandmother. That’s not to say Lima’s menu is not refined. Before last week’s opening, Marquez spent six weeks apprenticing at two of Lima’s top restaurants. The result is a menu that’s traditional yet sophisticated.
On our anonymous opening day visit (this blogger truly did enjoy the “First Bite” at this restaurant), I sampled silky lamb shank and a shredded chicken stew rich with aji amarillo and Parmesan. The best example of how simply divine Peruvian cuisine can be, however, was the thinly sliced and flash-marinated halibut ceviche served with soft sweet potatoes and two styles of corn kernels—one crunchy, the other intriguingly chewy.
In short, Lima is an ambitious venture with a casual vibe, vibrant cuisine, and a very devoted chef.
2151 Salvio St., Concord, (925) 309-7774, limaconcord.com. Lunch and dinner daily.