Skip to main content

San Clemente Journal

Inka Mama’s Serving Peruvian Cuisine

Mar 27, 2024 11:46AM ● By Mary Colarik

Stavros Lozano, behind the bar.

by Mary Colarik

Tucked neatly between Avenida Palizada and Avenida Miramar, a short distance from the well-worn path of our town’s main drag, sits a little hideaway offering a plethora of restaurants and businesses. It’s called the Old Town Plaza, and at the center of this outdoor venue are a myriad of parking spaces with the bonus of an overflow parking lot across the street on Miramar. 
There is much history there, some of it possibly more legend than fact. But in the late 1920s when the town was founded, it’s true that this plaza housed the Fire and Police departments, and from 1928-1968 the city’s jail. And before the Nixon Library and Museum was established in Yorba Linda, the first Nixon Museum was in one of the small buildings inside the plaza.
One of the main renovations at this location took place in 1975 when Spanish Western Style buildings were designed and developed to give the spot a “Spaghetti Western” flair, a place for people to “Eat, Love, Laugh and Shop.”

The city’s original jail has been renovated into ‘The Hoosegow.’


I had the pleasure of dining at Inka Mama’s, one of the popular restaurants there, and meeting Stavros Lozano, the enthusiastic, engaging and informative owner. My dining experience began in the bright, colorful dining room, with its beautiful wooden beams, and welcoming fireplace, flanked by several large windows. Stavros prepared a delicious drink for me, shaken, not stirred, a Pisco Sour, the National drink of Peru that was invented by an ex-pat living in the country. While I am not a connoisseur of Pisco Sours, I am confident this one was the best I have ever tasted. 
While sipping my cocktail, Lozano shared with me the story of two sisters, his mom, Martha White and his aunt, Angela Kisijara who left their lives behind in Peru, traveled to America with their young children in tow, and opened a Peruvian restaurant in Orange County in 2001. There are now four Inka Mama restaurants located in Orange County, all owned and operated by family members. 

Peruvian cuisine includes a fusion of Asian, European and Latin American flavors.


Explaining that Peruvian cuisine includes a fusion of Asian, European and Latin American flavors, Stavros described many of their specialties, all made from scratch. I was served several enticing, flavorful menu items, including Arroz con Pollo, chicken stewed in cilantro, garlic and onion sauce; halibut ceviche, marinated in lime juice and ginger, prepared with cilantro and red onion, served with corn nuts (flash fired Peruvian corn); and a very tasty spinach and cheese empanada served with a spicy lime sauce. Lime juice is the acid that is paired with many of the dishes to compliment the flavorful food. 

Entrées at Inka Mama’s offer a choice of vegetarian, chicken, rib eye beef or seafood served with a variety of different sauces and sides. On a return visit, my dining companion and I tasted two other entrees, the Macho Fish, halibut served with shrimp and calamari, fried potato and a side of cilantro infused rice, and a scampi dish served in a spicy garlic cream sauce tossed with pasta and finished with chopped cilantro. We finished our dinner with a delicious treat—a light ice cream made from the Lucuma fruit which is indigenous to the Andes. Another dessert served at the restaurant is a delicious, melt in your mouth shortbread cookie filled with caramel. These special cookies are a delightful treat made by Stavros’ mother.

  Their menu offers six starter items, six house specialties, many delicious entrees as well as a kid friendly menu. In addition to the Pisco Sour, there are several other specialty cocktails, wines by the glass or bottle and beer available there. 

Attached to the restaurant are the old city jail cells which have been renovated and converted, into a speakeasy. Rumor has it that two lady bootleggers were the first inmates. Stavros, who did most of the redesign build out of the space is calling the speakeasy “The Hoosegow.” Hoosegow is Spanish, a humorous and informal slang word for jail, derived from “juzgar”—meaning to judge. Stavros was able to research the handwritten documents that are in the files of the San Clemente Historical Society to learn about many of the inmates who were held there over the years of operation. With its historical background it is the perfect space for a modern-day speakeasy. Initially “The Hoosegow” will be available by invite and membership only. Hours will be from 8pm-midnight. Only spirits will be served.

Inka Mama’s with its eight-seat bar, long bar table and several tables in an open dining room is a welcoming spot for date nights, girl’s nights out, rehearsal dinners and parties. The restaurant also offers catering. Check out the tantalizing, flavorful Peruvian menu it will not disappoint. b

Inka Mama’s San Clemente is located at 
111 Palizada Unit 303, Old Town Plaza, (949)312-2423).