BELLINGHAM - There are lots of places to grab a sandwich, but Café Rumba's Peruvian-style offerings are a refreshing break from the predictable.
"Sandwiches" are sanguches here, in the hispanization of the English word that is used in Peru. Sanguches are distinguished from sandwiches in two important ways: bread and sauce.
The café prepares its sanguches on delightful white bread rolls with crispy crusts that are not too tough to impair the experience. And each sanguche gets its own Peruvian-accented sauce.
All the sanguche choices are a very attractive $6.95 in this informal walk-up eatery. On our visit, they were an even more attractive $5 apiece for a Thursday promotion.
We chose pollo (chicken) with salsa huacatay, and beef pot roast with salsa tuco.
I ordered the pollo before reading the fine print: Huacatay is a sauce with black mint and feta cheese. I'm not much of a mint person. To me, mint is for toothpaste. But the mint in the sandwich sauce was subtle and did not detract from my enjoyment in the least. The generous helping of chicken was shredded, fresh-tasting and moist, with both light and dark meat.
The beef sandwich was similarly well-proportioned. The salsa tuco was like a barbecue sauce, with a sweet onion and tomato flavor. Anyone who likes a barbecue sandwich would go for this one.
All the sanguches feature a side order of cooked sliced potato: papas a la huacaina. They are served skin-on, nicely cooked to be soft and creamy, and topped with yet another Peruvian sauce flavored with sweet, spicy yellow pepper and garlic.
There are also a variety of Peruvian drinks and desserts. The chicha beverage, for example, is a purple, sweet, corn-based drink spiced with clove and cinnamon.
Crema volteada is a Peruvian-style flan.
If you're looking for an alternative to your usual lunchtime fare downtown, Café Rumba is a good spot to know about, with some exotic flavors not available elsewhere. The place seems to have built up a following during nearly a year of operation at a spot just outside the busiest part of the central city.
Reach John Stark at 360-715-2274 or email@example.com. Read his Politics blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/politics or get updates on Twitter at @bhampolitics.
-- Address: 1140 N. State St.
-- Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
-- Phone: 360-746-8280.
-- Price range: $5-$7.
Reach JOHN STARK at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2274.