There’s a very small restaurant in Falls Church City serving up big tastes in big portions.
Upon entering Luzmila’s Cuisine, located in the Broad Falls Apartments plaza, diners squeeze through a narrow corridor and take their place at a number of tightly packed green tables. The senses are overwhelmed. Kitchen sounds and diner chatter fill the space, and all around there is something to see – Bolivian art that hangs on the walls, the television in the back of the restaurant tuned in to Univision, and the wait staff rushing back and forth with plates of intriguing cuisine and large sheets of unbaked saltenas. Savory scents fill the air as diners wait for the most important sense to be satisfied – taste.
While perusing the menu, diners are treated to large complementary rolls, which come out soon after taking a table. Each menu section – appetizers, entrees, sandwiches, and even the non-alcoholic drink menu – has some Bolivian specialty to offer.
At $2 a piece, the saltenas on the appetizer menu should be the start of every meal at this establishment. Pieces of meat (chicken or beef), vegetables, olives, and hard boiled egg are mixed in gravy and served inside a hard, sweet pastry shell, served up with a small spoon to help hungry patrons fight past the outer shell. Most diners, however, are happy to pick the fist-sized treats and dig in, accepting the inevitable mess as the price to pay for enjoying the delicious turnovers more quickly.
The entrée menu leaves no room for vegetarians, or even pescetarians, but offers many treats for die-hard carnivores. Meat reigns supreme in a variety of dishes in the $13 range served with some combination of rice, fries, salad and potatoes. The dishes feature chicken, pork, and a whole host of cuts of beef including – and not for the squeamish – cow tongue. The surprisingly tender cut of beef can be found in the falso mixto, seasoned with a pleasant spice and served with thinly breaded steak simmered in a sweet tomato-based Bolivian sauce, accompanied by rice and potatoes. The spicy tongue and sweet steak are an interesting point and counterpoint, and their sauces mingle well as they drip onto the potatoes and rice on which they are served. The portion of this wildly heavy dish is easily enough to feed a slightly peckish two, or an incredibly hungry one, so those taking part should be pleased to know that the restaurant is happy to provide take-out containers.
For those less inclined to dive into a massive plate of meat and potatoes, the soup menu offers a very attractive alternative. The $6 peanut soup is not to be missed, if only for its unique taste. Rice thickens this peanut-seasoned soup, and while accompanied by potatoes and beef, the soup’s creamy base steals the show. For slightly lighter fare, diners can opt for the chairo, offered on the special Sunday menu. This soup is a hearty blend of chicken, beef, vegetables, and potatoes, seasoned with scallion and cilantro to give a lighter taste and crunch to an otherwise salty, starchy soup.
And to wash down this delightfully rich meal is a peculiar drink native to the region. The mogonchinche is a peach drink made from dehydrated peach – one of which can be found floating near the bottom of the glass – which is spiced with cinnamon.
Luzmila’s Cuisine isn’t for every diner, and isn’t for every occasion. The large portions, heavy with meat and starch, make this restaurant best for very hungry diners, those who really want to dig into a big, hearty meal and block out the rest of day for napping and generally feeling lethargic. But those diners will without a doubt be satisfied.
809 W. Broad St., Falls Church
Tuesday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.