So, it has been a long time since I have gone to Q’ero, long before I started this site. I remember liking it, I remember it being a little pricey. Having adopted Panca in Oceanside as my go to and comparison for great things concerning Peruvian food, I had no real motivation to go back. Could it be good? Sure, and probably would be. Could it stand up to or surpass Panca? Not in my mind. It is kind of the way I am with Sushi and holding up Wrench and Rodent as all things to be compared to.
It was one of those days where I changed my lunch destination 6 times in my head and ended up at Q’ero. What I learned, though I should have already known, is Peruvian cuisine differs as much as Italian cuisine does from region to region and from city to city. So, while Panca and Q’ero both serve Peruvian cuisine and even a version of some of the same dishes, they are different in tone, style, and flavor profile.
Q’ero~ 564 South Coast Highway, Encinitas.
Q’ero boasts a very bright and colorful interior. I love orange.
Very vibrant and festive.
As my meal started I was given a bottle of Aji sauce, I love this stuff, Q’ero’s version was a bit sweeter than the one served at Panca. Panca’s version has more heat and a bit more citrus taste, which I prefer. Still, good though.
Saltenas De Pollo ~ Chicken, sautéed onion, raisins, and spices.
Great version of an empanada, light flakey pastry, and rich filling.
For my main, I went with the fish of the day.
Sudado De Pescado ~ Fish cooked in an Aji and Amarillo spiced fish broth, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and Chica De Jora (corn beer). Served with choice of rice or quinoa.
Perfectly cooked fish with crispy skin in a lovely, flavorful broth. This was a flawless dish and would stand up in any 5-star restaurant in any major city.
So, going back to the first paragraph and answering the Panca question. They are both great, though I give Panca a slight edge due to my love of heat and Chef Iolle’s seafood.
I would highly recommend checking out Q’ero though. Q’ero would lend itself more to a date or special occasion dinner atmosphere wise, but it is a bit more pricey across the board.
The Encinitas restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday and Wednesday and lunch and dinner Thursday through Saturday. They are closed Sunday and Monday. They have a sister restaurant Casa De Q’ero in Cardiff which is open for dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays starting at 4pm.
564 South Coast Highway, Encinitas.