Avenida Mariscal La Mar in Miraflores is a popular street with many restaurants serving seafood and international food. What was missing? A steakhouse, of course. Recently, the team of Traveling and Living in Peru was pleasantly surprised when we entered Don Nico Steakhouse in Lima.
Who is “Don Nico”? I had the opportunity to speak to one of his son’s, Sebastian Gonzalez, during our visit. First and foremost, Nicanor Gonzalez Urrutia was passionate about his family, friends, good food and adventure. He was an infamous hard-core, lifelong adventurer, a successful businessman and a true epicurean. He loved to surf and was a champion sailor. But he was more well known as a serious competitor in auto racing.
While I was writing this article, I discovered that my husband was friends with Nicanor back in the 1970’s and they sailed often together, including competing together in the Thousand Mile Regatta in Chile in 1978.
This was a renaissance man who lived life to the fullest and this restaurant is a wonderful homage to him.
After their father had passed away, brothers Nicanor and Sebastián González opened the doors of their first steakhouse in 2014 in the beach area of Punta Hermosa. The name of the restaurant, Don Nico, is in remembrance of their father and the barbecues he prepared for the family in Punta Hermosa during the time he lived there. In December 2019 they opened their second restaurant in the heart of Miraflores. They are already enjoying repeat customers in the brief time they have been open.They have plans to open up the second floor in a few months as well.
Done Nico is a Lima steakhouse where you can find the ideal mix between the best American meat (with the Certified Angus Beef seal) combined with expert grilling methods.
The decor at this new Miraflores location is more sophisticated and refined than at the comfy Punta Hermosa beach-vibe locale, but still a comfortable, cozy and chic atmosphere. The decor and details are impeccable: the Balinese black-fringed hanging tiki lamps, hanging textiles, rattan chairs with cool cushions, and large mirrors with wood frames, just to name a few. There’s an abundance of wood, brick walls and the color black. I fell in love with the black matte silverware here as well. Sebastian told me that his mother, Marcela De la Torre, is primarily responsible for the interiors. She also owns a home interiors shop in the Punta Hermosa named Aqua Marine Beach Style.
Our experience at Don Nico Steakhouse in Lima, from beginning to end, was full of delicious moments. A complete A1 experience. The prices are on the higher side which I feel is to be expected from a high-quality steakhouse. In my opinion, well worth the splurge.
We began with a selection of three house cocktails to whet our whistles. The head bartender at Don Nico is Omar Lopez (previously at ámaZ). I found his cocktails creative, fun and conversation-inspiring. We enjoyed his contagious passion and his killer drinks. First up was the Last Rites (S/ 40), a combination of Flor de Caña 12 rum, Cocchi Rosso vermouth, Campari, Ardberg single malt whisky, and Cruz Conde PX dry sherry. There is a reason for the name of this cocktail. It is full of flavor and quite robust; perhaps the ideal beverage to drink before one dies—or, if you drink one too many, you will need the last rites read to you.
The Roger Rabbit (S/40), was a refreshing concoction of Santa Teresa 1796 aged rum, carrot and pineapple juices, coconut and lime. This would be the ideal beverage for those that enjoy a more mild cocktail.
My favorite was the Conde Fino (S/38), it was wonderful for both the eyes and the mouth. This wonderful elixir is prepared with Amazonian Gin, Matacuy (an Andean digestif made from botanical extracts in distilled sugar cane in the small Peruvian area, Ollantaytambo), Cruz Conde Fino sherry, apple and cardamom. The presentation is another experience. It arrived in a vintage style wide-mouth champagne glass. On top of the golden liquid was a large sphere-like bubble. Once you take the first sip, you break the bubble and a whisper of smoke puffs free and you continue to sip and enjoy.
Besides cocktails, be sure to peruse the dynamic wine list which was prepared by three-time best sommelier champion in Peru, Joseph Ruiz. Prior to working at Don Nico he also was a sommelier at Central. Ever charismatic, he also teaches at two institutions and is a wine consultant. You can opt to bring your own wine to Don Nico, but you will be charged a 50 soles corkage fee. I feel the wine list is excellent at Don Nico Steakhouse in Lima with diverse options and prices.
On to the food! We chatted with Don Nico’s head chef and advisor, Patricio Basombrio. He is an experienced chef that has worked in many excellent restaurants, among them Mirazur (Menton, France), ranked No. 1 on the World’s Best Restaurant 2019. He spoke to us about creating the Don Nico menu and keeping it simple, preparing the classic steakhouse-style dishes using excellent quality ingredients and executing them extremely well. He also mentioned the work to enrich and improve dishes, without over-elaboration.
We began with one of their starters, Conchas de Abanico (S/42). Five jumbo sea scallops grilled with lime and tapioca pearls is simply exquisite. The textures in this dish elevated scallops to another level for me.
I am a fan of steak tartare so I was happy when this starter arrived at our table. Don Nico’s version of Steak Tartare (S/89) is one of the better versions you can find in Lima. The raw ground (minced) beef is perfectly seasoned with scant amounts of very thinly chopped onions, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, and other seasonings with a raw egg yolk on top. The rich flavor of the beef was the star because they did not over saturate the ground beef with all the seasonings. The tartare is served with crispy crackers and arugula.
I don’t typically mention side dishes served at restaurants, but the Encurtidos (S/20), is a wonderful option. The mason jar filled with pickled crispy slices of carrots, onions and other vegetables is both delicious and also a wonderful palate cleanser especially when eating richer foods, such as beef.
From the Especiales section of the menu we shared the Fondue Don Nico (S/99). A generous amount of large pieces of zucchini, mushrooms and Certified Angus Beef are grilled perfectly and served on a wood board. On this board is a rustic artisanal bread bowl filled with creamy, gooey, melted Taleggio cheese which you dip all of these ingredients. Make sure you break off a few pieces of the bread to enjoy at the end. It’s addictive.
I am a Chicago girl and we take our beef very seriously. So I, along with the TLIP team, was very pleased and impressed with the quality and flavor of all the beef dishes we sampled at Don Nico Steakhouse in Lima, especially the delectable Bife Ancho Sin Hueso (boneless Ribeye steak, S/150). This arrived at our table served on a wood board with half a roasted garlic bulb, coarse salt and a sprig of rosemary. This 500-gram steak was grilled perfectly: deeply flavorful, pink in the center, juicy, and soft. This could easily satisfy two diners or one diner with a very hearty appetite.
Besides the Ribeye, there are ten other prime cuts of beef on the Don Nico menu available for all tastes: Porterhouse, T-Bone, Skirt steak, Filet Mignon, NY Strip, among others. One side dish is included with any selection in the Prime Meats section of the menu. There are 12 options to choose from.
Speaking of side dishes, we sampled three standouts, Papa Fritas Tumbay (S/18), classic rustic Peruvian potatoes cut into wedges and fried with the skin on; Coleslaw (S/20), thin slices of crunchy purple and green cabbage, carrot and a very light mayo-based sauce to hold it together all topped off with ultra-thin crispy onion rings; and their Mac & Cheese (S/24), a decadent version prepared with English cheddar and smoky Italian cheeses.
Last, but not least, the desserts. There are four options available. We thoroughly enjoyed the exquisite Cheesecake (S/18), a rich and creamy cheesecake topped off with fresh raspberries and blueberries, a berry reduction and flowers. The presentation was elegant and vibrant with color.
I definitely need to return and sample one of their two burgers prepared with beef. They also have an interesting looking shrimp burger and a portobello burger for those who prefer vegetables. Also on my list when I return to Don Nico is their pastel de choclo, onion soup, one of their salads, and more meat! Probably the skirt or porterhouse steak.
Besides the dishes for those with carnivorous hearts, I counted 17 dishes that would be suitable for vegetable-leaning diners. There are also seafood options which include shrimp, scallops, trout, and lobster. If you are looking for something lighter, there are four substantial salads available.
Many thanks to owner Sebastian Gonzalez, Patricio Basombrio, and Joseph Ruiz who all took the time to speak with us, as well as the care and attention we received from all of the formidable and hard-working Don Nico team.
Don Nico Steakhouse in Lima is definitely a great new destination for beef and so much more. Never underestimate the power of simple, perfectly executed quality cuisine.
The energy, spirit and passion of Don Nicanor Gonzalez is alive and well here at Don Nico Steakhouse.
All photos: Marco Simola
Don Nico Steakhouse
Av. Mariscal La Mar 901, Miraflores
Phone: 942 224 552
Capacity: 70 people
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 12:30pm-4pm, 7pm-11pm; Sunday, 12:30pm-4pm (closed Mondays)
Valet parking and street parking available
Prime Meats: S/ 55-280
Side dishes/Garnishes: S/ 18-24
Hamburgers: S/ 38-46
Starters: S/ 18-89
Salads: S/ 32-52
Specials: S/ 68-166
Kids Menu: S/ 24-28
Desserts: S/ 18-25
Cocktails (house & classics): S/30-40
Wines by the glass: S/ 20-36
Wine by the bottle: S/ 80-1,850
Full cocktail bar