Owner José Alkon has a background in cinematography and is the founder of inner-west wine brand Marrick’s Wines. He says working behind the camera, which is all about creating an experience, helped him craft Pepito’s. (The restaurant is named after his father – it’s also the nickname Alkon gave his son, as they look so alike.)
The two standout dishes on the menu are the leche de tigre especial and the ox heart anticuchos. The former is a mix of local seafood that’s marinated in lime juice, garlic, chilli and ginger, then topped with deep-fried calamari. The latter is a Peruvian street-food classic, typically cooked in African neighbourhoods. The ox heart – which has been sourced from Whole Beast Butchery just up the road – is marinated in Peruvian chillies and spices, then cooked over charcoal.
When it comes to booze, Pepito’s is all about the pisco, a high-proof grape spirit that originated in Peru’s winemaking regions. Alkon wants to teach us that, just like wine, it’s all about the terroir, age and terrain. While Pepito’s serves pisco in cocktails, it also serves itt neat so diners can cultivate a taste for it. There’s also a bunch of other Peruvian spirits behind the bar, infused with plants and herbs from the Amazon. The wine list focuses on small, sustainable producers making minimal-intervention drops. And there’s a rotating selection of local beers, including brews from Philter, Batch and Grifter.