In the rain-forest-like dining room of Anaconda Latin Fusion Bistro, folks are drinking sangria, eating pupusas and joining a jazz-pop duo in a sing-along of Billy Joel's "Piano Man."
Not quite the scene you'd expect at a Latin restaurant -- but that's by design. Because what chef co-owners Angel Sorto and Jose Reyes set out to create was a family-friendly place showcasing several Latin cuisines as well as a wide range of weekend musical entertainment -- Latin and otherwise.
What should pull you in right away is the sparklingly fresh ceviche mixto, a seafood assortment "cooked" by its sprightly citrus marinade. In comforting counterpoint are pillowy pupusas, or stuffed corn cakes, which work well with pork, cheese and/or bean fillings. Colombian beef empanadas, nearly their equals, are ideal as accompaniments for the fruity house sangria.
Commanding center stage is the restaurant's Peruvian chicken, which comes off the wood-and/or charcoal-fired rotisserie, crisp-skinned, juicy and savory to the bone. Just bear in mind that your chicken may not be ready when you are. And that it's worth waiting for.
Meanwhile, there are other attractions. Like tacos de lengua, soft corn tongue tacos showered with chopped onion and cilantro. And camarones al ajillo, plump shrimp in a mellow garlic sauce. From Colombia comes the savory, hearty diet-busting bandeja paisa platter featuring juicy skirt steak, sausage, fried pork skin and a fried egg. Salmon al gusto, grilled and topped with a spicy red sauce, turns out to be a pretty dull affair, but not the sopa de pollo, a meal-size chicken soup. It's rich, flecked with cilantro and brimming with vegetables and moist pieces of boneless dark and white meat.
While servers are gracious, the pacing of meals can sometimes lag. On one visit, because of an inordinate wait for appetizers (no complaints voiced), two gratis desserts are brought over. There's a slab of tres leches cake, moist and milky, plus a lush flan. Smart way to end a meal.