Skip the lines and generic commercial vibes at Chipotle or Qdoba, instead experience authentic Latin American cuisine at University Avenue’s newest addition Estacion Inka.
From the owners of long-standing Peruvian restaurant Inka Heritage, Estacion Inka offers downtown Madison traditional Peruvian food at a bargain price.
Located at 604 University Ave., the site that briefly held Taco Bros, Estacion Inka opened Jan. 21 as a late night food option, given its prime location in the thick of bars and its 3 a.m. closing time on weekends.
Unlike Inka Heritage on Park Street, Estacion Inka is centrally located, offering counter service in lieu of the sit down, waiter concept. These attributes target students looking for fast, convenient food.
Burgers, sandwiches and roasted chicken are the main features of the chalkboard menu at Estacion Inka, though a selection of fresh fruit juice smoothies and desserts are also offered.
The roasted chicken is affordable yet satisfying, with its spice-rubbed skin, and meat that is far from dry. This menu item is served with a choice of side — either yuccas, sweet plantain, salad or rice and beans.
The yuccas or yucca fries are made from the root vegetable yucca. It tastes much like traditional french fries, only its slightly denser than a potato. While the flavor is quite similar, the texture of yucca fries is much heartier.
A specials board advertising desayuno features a salchipapas con yucca dish, which arrives as sliced, pan-fried sausage atop a bed of yucca fries. The sausage is crisp and caramelized, yet juicy and teeming with savory flavor.
The salchipapas con yucca is served with four sauces. The first is a lighter, cilantro lime sauce. Another is a deep purple color, reminiscent of a blueberry smoothie, but with a strong olive flavor. The remaining two are a simple mayo and a spiced queso sauce. Each enhances the already gratifying comfort food flavor of the fries and sausage.
In terms of Estacion Inka’s most popular items, the staff recommends the chicharron de Esmeralda sandwich. Served on a flaky sesame seed bun, the chicharron features roasted pork, red onion, lettuce, cilantro and garlic. Per the menu, the sandwich includes a couple “secret ingredients” as well.
For something lighter, Estacion Inka’s jugos frescos (fresh juices) are prepared with 100% natural fruit and come in a variety of flavors. Though called juices, the drink’s texture is much more reminiscent of a smoothie. Among the listed options are papaya, fresa (strawberry), piña (pineapple), mango and chica morada, a traditional Peruvian beverage made from purple corn.
Continuing the sweetness, the dessert options at Estacion Inka include some Peruvian dessert classics. A creamy tres leches cake of condensed milk, evaporated milk and heavy cream is offered, as well as arroz con leche (rice pudding). Bite-size alfajores are served as caramel sandwiched between two buttery cookies. The mousse de lucuma then showcases the tropical lucuma fruit native to the coastal valleys of Chile, Ecuador and Peru.
Whether looking for late night drunchies, an affordable lunch between classes, or an afternoon smoothie to fight the mid-day slump, Estacion Inka enhances the food options downtown with its unique offering of fresh and authentic Peruvian flavors.