'Authentic' is the unoriginal, but correct description for this warm and buzzing little Ecuadorian-Bolivian restaurant. It feels like South America from the moment bowls of popcorn are plonked on the tables to the arrival of a 'vegetarian dish' containing chicken.
The simple, generous portions of meat with a variety of carbohydrates (rice, potatoes and plantain) makes it fell more like humid Quito than the damp Holloway Road.
These sort of home-style dishes are all about big flavours and contrasting textures. Saltenas, the Bolivian equivalent of a Cornish pasty, were very moreish, the slightly sweet, buttery pastry encasing savoury chicken.
Ceviche de camaron, a cocktail of prawns with red onion and coriander in a sweet and zingy orange dressing, was transformed by a sprinkling of maiz tostadas (crunchy fried kernels of Andean corn).
Pique macho of stewed beef with sliced frankfurters and deliriously yummy fried potatoes was given an oomph by a topping of crunchy salad of tomatoes and red onions. Bland, white and boiled, mote corn worked wonders with fat and crisp deep-fried marinated pork in fritada con mote.
Less successful were the arrez dishes of over-cooked and mainly featureless rice, uninspiring tortellini, and white fish that was too dry.
With its wholesome food, cheap prices, and welcoming but unhurried service it attracts hordes of local South Americans and cost-conscious students. We'll be going back for rare treats such as the curious casserole of tongue; or fanesca, the Ecuadorian Easter soup of salted cod and beans.