First it was bacon. Next, cupcakes. Then, ramen.
Now, could it be Peruvian?
Avenida is hoping so.
The Kaskaid Hospitality restaurant recently launched a new menu with an increased focus on Peruvian flavors and dishes, something they believe is the next dining trend.
“Avenida is ‘avenue’ in Spanish,” Zach Sussman, vice president of marketing at Kaskaid Hospitality said. “It’s kind of a joke because we own Boulevard across the street. So, this was our nod to this being the Spanish version of Boulevard.”
Avenida opened in December 2015, and was originally touted as a Mexican-Latin fusion restaurant.
“We want to do something that’s got a bit more crossover appeal,” Sussman said.
Instead of creating just a Mexican concept, Avenida used traditional Mexican dishes, such as tacos, fajitas and chilaquiles, as a base for their menu, adding in flavors from other Latin American countries.
“For us, that meant bringing in flavors from Brazil, Argentina – all over Latin America,” Sussman said, “One of the things that worked right away for us was the Peruvian side of the menu.”
Through research and travel, the team at Kaskaid Hospitality had found Peruvian dishes popping up at several restaurants in Chicago and on the coasts. So, they decided to include a few on the menu.
Right away, they became best selling items.
“We took a look at everything and said, ‘What are the real home runs?’ And it was obvious that the Peruvian stuff was,” Sussman said. “So, we said, ‘Let’s lean into that and do more with Asian flavors.'”
Asian cooking already heavily influences traditional Peruvian food.
“There was a large influx of Asian immigrants to Peru and so they kind of combined the food they had in Peru with their tradition Asian cooking techniques,” Sussman said. “There are some non-traditional ingredients in what is otherwise a very traditional Asian dish.”
Several dishes use Asian cooking techniques but combine it with Latin flavors, such as stir-fries including peppers and potatoes.
This is seen in dishes like the chaufa. Shredded beef tenderloin, marinated in Peruvian spices, sits on top of a bed of fried rice with bean sprouts, broccoli and peppers with a scrambled egg.
While several of the Mexican menu items remain the same, most of the menu has changed significantly.
Several new appetizers were added – such as the ahi sashimi, the tuna crisps and the crab guacamole. An entirely new Asian section, with dishes like Kung Pao chicken, was added.
And, under signature dishes, items like the chipotle cherry salmon, roasted Peruvian chicken and coconut gochujang pork belly – six thick slabs of pork belly piled on top of corn and potatoes in a coconut Thai broth – added even more Peruvian influence.
“We always are just trying to improve and evaluate what we’re doing,” Sussman said. “We always like to do something a little bit different.”
The new menu has been available at Avenida for roughly two to three weeks. Several items are available on both lunch and dinner menus.
To learn more about Avenida, or to make a reservation, visit Avenida online.