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“Go for the food!”
Review of Ay Ay Picante

Ay Ay Picante
Ranked #1,260 of 10,258 Restaurants in Chicago
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Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Neighborhood: Northwest Side
Reviewed August 1, 2013

I'll admit the atmosphere was not crazy, but the food was soooo good! I really enjoyed it as we were just down near Peru (Guayaquil, Ecuador & Galapagos) and had some Peruvian dishes, so it took us back and tasted great! Both my husband and I loved it! We did research a few things before going in there so we knew what we wanted to order, but they were helpful enough that it isn't needed. Nice place, great Peruvian food!

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Thank Noraisis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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46 - 50 of 71 reviews

Reviewed July 3, 2013

Enjoyed a delicious lunch here today. Had a very attentive waiter who served up an excellent shrimp ceviche (that had a little slow-building heat), an amazing vegetarian appetizer called "Ocopa" which was essentially a potato salad in the most amazing and different sauce, apparently made from, among other things, Peruvian black mint - it was unique and excellent. For our main dishes we had the lomo saltado - (very good, if unadventurous) and the Aji de Galina (like a yummy and different chicken salad served with rice. This last dish also had a mild but slow-building heat. Overall, we found the flavors unique - just a bit out of the ordinary - and delicious. The atmosphere is unpretentious and the service friendly and prompt. I saw several Peruvians dining here - always a good sign. I would definitely recommend Ay Ay Picante to anyone looking to try something a little different. The menu is extensive enough to satisfy those looking to branch out as well as those who want a safe option. Not fancy, but I really liked the food and will be back. Thanks!! BYOB

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Thank TravelinDantheMan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 28, 2013

Lots of potatoes...LOL. Peru known for their potaoes, I expected a lot of different choices, but mashed seemed to be the potato of the day. We ordered the cebiche (spelled as is on the menu) as an snack course and it with the bread was a meal all by itself. So good, very different from the ceviche I am used to as Mexican style. There is really too much food, smaller portions would be better, even if you share (and you really have to) it's really so much, my family and I took most of our dinner home.

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1  Thank CHolt26
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 2, 2013

Simply put ......1hr 45min for food to arrive.

8pm reservations and not seated until 8:45. My party of five endured 3 baskets of bread while watching the wait stafff run around in circles while giving us many excuses. As a result, we walked out before experiencing anything.

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1  Thank notahappydinner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed December 9, 2012

I belong to a BYOB dinner club and this month's event was held at Ay Ay Picante. I arrived a bit early, but fortunately had brought with me a binder filled with women to keep me occupied as I waited for my party to arrive. The decor at Ay Ay is... interesting. Red is definitely the theme here - the walls are red, the waiters' vest are red, the tablecloth underneath the paper covering is red and most intriguing the light fixtures have something red hanging down - nobody at my table was able to discern if they were bandannas or boxer shorts, but what was most puzzling was they appeared to be adorned with Asian letters. Perhaps they were meant to be fish skeletons, but they definitely looked like some type of Asian language. There also were hieroglyphics stenciled into the wall.

Although Ay Ay definitely serves Peruvian cuisine, the ambiance is an odd fusion of Asian, African, Latino, Vegas and cruise ship. Tables are rather close together, so it can get noisy - especially if someone is celebrating a birthday in house (at various intervals during the night the stereo was turned up to full blast and a rendition of Happy Birthday blared, bringing conversation at other tables to a screeching halt). They do keep the lighting dark to try and create an intimate vibe, but the faux fire-lamp, boxers and occasional bursts of happy birthday result in something other than intimate.

The menu is rather vast with a focus on seafood and steaks, but plenty of other fare to choose from. Most appetizers run about $6 to $8 (aside from ceviches which run $13 to $16) and entrees about $14 to $18. Not bad considering it is BYOB and the portions are fairly generous. The spring 2010 menu is currently up on Ay Ay's website, and it is still pretty representative of the current menu - I meant to ask when the summer of 2010 menu will be out, but sadly forgot to inquire.

The menu itself is interesting; it is several pages and not all of them were connected so when I first opened it up a couple pieces fell to the floor and turned into a jigsaw puzzle of sorts. Service was adequate; sufficiently attentive but aside from taking orders, filling water glasses, and clearing the table they did not interact much. They did forget to bring my side of plantains (but since my entree was so large I did not say anything) and there was a fairly long gap between when the first person's entree was delivered to our table and the last person's (we were a party of seven, so fairly large group - but still it seemed a bit too long of a gap).

Like the service, the quality of the food was decent, but nothing to write home about. Everybody at our table seemed to be satisfied, but nobody was oohing and awing over the food (though I think a few of us were still mesmerized with trying to figure out what the boxer like thingies were that were hanging from the light fixtures). At the beginning they delivered us some tasty crusty bread with a nice green dipping sauce that was garlicky and had just a touch of heat. Our table shared a few appetizers; tamales, ceviche mixto and an empanada. The ceviche was the best of the bunch, but lime overpowered the other flavors (I had been thinking that to myself when one of my friend's mentioned the same thing). My entree was a seafood stew with a red sauce and generous portions of shrimp, calamari, mussels, octopus and tilapia. This too was decent, but some of the seafood was overcooked and had a rubbery consistency and bland taste - as one of my friends pointed out, I did consume the entire bowl, so it certainly was not bad. At this price point (and factoring in the BYOB) I felt the meal was a good value (we paid $26 per/person including tax and tip for seven of us each ordering an entree and the table sharing three appetizers).

Chicago has so many outstanding restaurants at or near this price point that unless you happen to be in the neighborhood (there are not many restaurants nearby), happen to be craving Peruvian food or want to check out the boxers with Asian lettering hanging from the light fixtures first hand there are better options out there, but Ay Ay Picante is a good value for the money and certainly can be a fun night out without putting a big dent in the wallet.

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Thank fabcomdr2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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