Beef fares better in the lomo saltado, which pairs strips of grilled meat with a mix of red onion, ají chile, tomato and whole steak fries. The dish, as a whole, looks something like fajitas minus the sizzle, and the onion and chile provide tart, spicy counterpoints to the beef. The fries — there are maybe a half-dozen of them — retain their crisp exterior fairly well. Steak fries also appear in the saltado de langostinos, which tosses perfectly sautéed shrimp with red onion, scallion, tomato and cilantro in a light, flavorful reduction of olive oil and white wine.

Both saltado dishes are served with white rice. Almost every entrée (pastas excepted) is. This isn't a problem, per se, but over the course of multiple visits I grew a little bored with the meat-starch template. Given the increased exposure Mango will receive downtown, it might be interesting to pepper traditional Peruvian dishes with some less-common fare. There are daily specials, though the roasted-pork special I ordered yielded three overcooked medallions in an undistinguished sauce.

The dessert list includes a terrific dish called pionono: sponge cake layered with thick, freshly made caramel. It's delicious, and light enough that even after a heavy meal you can enjoy it. The wine list focuses on South American reds and whites, most of them reasonably priced. Specialty cocktails include the Peruvian classic pisco sour and a nicely restrained (which is to say citrusy but not too sweet) sangría.

Peru to the 'Lou: Mango owner Jorge Calvo has opened a downtown location.
Peru to the 'Lou: Mango owner Jorge Calvo has opened a downtown location.

Location Info

Map

Mango Peruvian Cuisine-Downtown

1101 Lucas Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63101

Category: Restaurant > Peruvian

Region: St. Louis - Washington Avenue

Details

Slideshow

Go into the kitchen at Mango with our slideshow.

Mango Peruvian Cuisine
Tamal...$5
Seco de carne...$15
Saltado de langostinos...$17
Pionono...$5
1101 Lucas Avenue; 314-621-9993.
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Fri.-Sat., 1-8 p.m. Sun.

Like the dishes here that need more vibrant flavors, service in general at Mango could use a tad more seasoning. I encountered a dirty menu, a dirty plate on a freshly set table, servers who, while friendly, were far from prompt and sometimes too casual. (Example: Several servers stood around laughing at their incompetence at fixing a troublesome tap from which my beer was being poured — and then handed over the beer without asking me if it was OK.)

Issues like these stand out when you open in a high-profile location. But consider how far Mango has come in the past five years: What's significant isn't that St. Louis has a Peruvian restaurant, or even that it now has a Peruvian restaurant downtown, but that among the pricey lofts and slick eateries, Mango belongs.

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