Scoboco decided to brave the freezingness a couple of Fridays ago to check out the Peruvian fare that's been drawing crowds to Pardo's, the city's first franchise (of what the owner hopes will be several) of this South American chain. As you'd expect from a chain, the decor here is neither pretty nor subtle, from the Applebees-esque logo to the standard-issue brown tables and chairs to the giant food posters on the wall to the garish photographs on the laminated menu. But, then, you don't come to Pardo's for the atmosphere. You come to Pardo's for the skewered beef hearts.
Seriously. Bo and Co didn't even really believe me when I told them that we were going to have some cow heart for dinner... but cow heart we most definitely had and, in fact, we all agreed that it was the best dish of night. It's called Anticuchos, it's peppery and spicy and tender and tasty, and it goes very well with the side of starchy Inca corn. Next came the Chicken a lo Pobre, pictured below, which consisted of three unique-to-us and quite delicious tacu tacus (basically, fried balls of mashed beans and rice, with garlic, onion and the Peruvian pepper aji amarillo), topped—and ruined—by a ridiculously dry piece of chicken and a way-overcooked quail egg. The lesson here: skip the bird stuff and just get the side of tacu tacu. After a serviceable avocado salad came the disappointing Pardo's Brasa, a whole rotisserie chicken "marinated for hours in its 14 secret ingredients", one of which is most definitely "salt". This bird had also been terribly overcooked, and the flavoring didn't taste any different to us than the Pollo a la Brasa they've been serving for around 20 years at Flor de Mayo on the Upper West Side.
So the meal ranged from good and interesting to extremely mediocre, but the price was low and the service fast and friendly. You could do worse. My biggest regret, really, was not trying the Chicha Morado—a drink made from purple corn, pineapple and cinnamon—opting instead for the highly un-exotic Inca Cola. Pardo's is on 7th Avenue South between Grove and Barrow, and it gets pretty packed.