Part of the Huariques del Callao series
A Peruvian “Huarique” in English might best be described as a “hidden nook where food is served”. In a country like Peru where people have little in the way of resources, small simple non-pretentious restaurants called huariques are the norm. The port city of Callao, where some of the region ‘s best seafood is landed, also has some of the best huariques. Many are very old and are locally very well known. In this series, we’ll visit the greats.
With thanks to Luis Arriola and Alejandro Garcia who wrote and translated the original article below.
There isn’t a chalaco (as the natives of Callao are called) who has not eaten at Mateo, located in the historic center of Callao.
In Mateo, the specialities are first-rate fish and seafood.
The restaurant is named after its owner, Mateo Rojas Huayta. Every day of the year, from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., this restaurant opens its doors at Jirón Miller 386, next to the main church in Callao.
Among the most special dishes served here is the tiradito in three flavours. This dish is a piece of fish cut into fine slices and divided in three parts. The first part is covered in a creamy ají amarillo sauce, the second in a white sauce made with parmesan cheese and cream, and the third in a creamy rocoto sauce. Each sauce is a different colour, hence the name.
“Our menu says this is a dish for one,” tells don Mateo, “but, two or even three people can easily share it.”
Another speciality of the house is the seafood soup pariahuela a lo Mateo , which can include chita or tramboyo fish, a whole crab, and other shellfish. Alluding to the aphrodisiacal qualities of seafood, don Mateo laughs and says, “This dish has been responsible for many clients and workers of mine having twins.”
Don Mateo arrived in Callao years ago from his native Ayacucho. About 25 years ago, he decided to open a bar at his current location. To entice his customers, he began to offer traditional seafood dishes like choritos a la chalaca , escabeche and mussel soup.
Soon, people began to ask him to expand his menu, and he decided to take some cooking courses to learn to make new dishes. “The only way to move forward in life is by learning new things,” concludes don Mateo.
Jirón Miller 386
Note: Specialties include tiradito en tres sabores , parihuela a lo Mateo , and orgía de mariscos . These dishes are incomparable. Dishes are for one, but two can easily share one. The presentation is very good, as is the pisco sour.