Name of restaurant: Inti
Concept: A casual Peruvian restaurant hidden in a mini-mall on a nondescript stretch of Melrose Avenue you've driven by a thousand times. Avela Luna, who is originally from Lima, has been running this joint for the last decade.
What dish represents the restaurant: The ceviche mixto is a tart mix of raw seafood: fish, shrimp, squid and octopus tossed in lime juice and topped with a generous heaping of thinly sliced red onions. It's served with the usual accompaniment of boiled potato, sweet potato and crunchy toasted corn kernels.
Runner-up: Because you can't live on ceviche alone (but don't we wish we could?) the more substantial lomo saltado is a tender combination of beef, sauteed onions and French fries, garnished with just a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
You can do worse than order a side of the yuca frita con huancaina. The creamy yellow sauce is named for the city of Huancayo, in the Peruvian highlands where it's from. It gets its color from the aji amarillo, a mild yellow pepper that adds more color than heat. As usual, theirs is served chilled as a dipping sauce for the fried roots.
Who's at the next table: Peruvian families have after-church meals and subdued conversations.
Appropriate for: Anyone who loves homemade Peruvian food and doesn't care about the decor or furnishings.
Service: It's casual, yet friendly. The señoras will bring you complimentary bread with their green aji sauce, check on you often and bring you your check when you ask for it.
What you're drinking: Maracuya (passionfruit) juice or the chicha morada, a cinnamon- and clove-laced drink made from boiling Peruvian purple corn and pineapple. It's a deep violet beverage served chilled with some added sugar.
Info: 5870 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 962-2027.