Where to Eat in Lima and Cusco
I have one and a half days in Lima and three in Cusco. I know about the fancy places in Lima like Astrid y Gaston, so am more interested in any hidden jewels.
In my many visits to Peru, one of our favorite restaurants has been Jose Antonio. Here you will sample the wonderful traditional foods of Peru, outstanding Pisco Sours (watch out, they serve these potent cocktails in tall glasses, rather than the tiny conventional ones!) Don't be timid about ordering: anticuchos (spicy beef heart kabobs), ocopa (cold potato "salad" with spicy peanut sauce, papas a la huancaina (similar without the peanut), aji de gallina (a kind of shredded chicken breast fricasse with a creamy sauce of ground walnuts), etc. if they appear on the menu. Anything with seafood is out of this world in Peru. A favorite if they have this appetizer is "conchitas" tiny scallops served with roe still attached in their shells, savory and fragrant with lime, butter and parmesan. This is a lovely restaurant--sorry, I do not recall its location, as we are always with family and friends. I am jealous! Hope you enjoy! On the really upscale side, one of the best restaurants I have eaten in in any of our fine dining and travels is called, I believe "El Huaca". It is gorgeous with the finest food to match, although probably more continental and sophisticated rather than representative of true Peruvian cuisine. Ask to sit outdoors where you will enjoy the view of the "huaca" (ancient pyramid) which you could practically reach out and touch from your chair! Astonishing! Peru is rich in archaeological treasures--this is amazing to be seated in a restaurant at the base of such a pyramid. Again, enjoy!
In Cuzco, the two real gems we found on our trip last month were "La Chomba" - a locals only kind of place - perfect for chowhounds. It's located on one of the two main avenues, Tullumayo, but just out slightly from the city center. If you just tell a cab driver "La Chomba", they all know the place. True local cuisine in a bare bones setting - you pass through a gate into a courtyard filled with playing children, laundry hanging out to dry, and a locals hanging out chatting, up a small stairway - do go upstairs, don't eat downstairs in the bar - and you'll pay next to nothing for a really good meal - possibly the best lechon I've ever had, great cabrito, and other dishes. Main courses are enough to really serve two people... The other spot is a bit more upscale, called Pacha Papa. It's located in the Plazoleta San Blas - basically slightly more "haute" versions of local dishes, served in a pretty little garden, and absolutely delicious. The adobo de chancha, a pork stewed in the local chicha de jora, is so good I went back a few days later for another plate of it.
In Lima, we didn't get out as much, but on the higher end, don't miss Sankuay - also called Chez Wong by locals, Leon Garcia 114 - only open for lunch, and where you can have one of the freshest and best ceviches you'll ever try in a small, intimate setting in the owners' house in the Santa Carolina area - take a cab, not the safest neighborhood, part of why he's only open at lunch. We also had a pleasant and interesting, if not spectacular meal, at a little place called Javier in the Barranco neighborhood, just down the pathway from the "bridge of sighs", or puente del suspiros. A ceviche de conchas negras, or black clam ceviche, was one of the more interesting ceviches we've tried, and they have a selection of different causas, or chilled potato and seafood appetizers, the crab, or cangrejo, one being absolutely spot on.
My wife is from Lima, and she recommends Brujas de Cachiche. This is an upscale restaurant in a nice, safe part of Lima. For about $20 per person you can have an amazing buffet and taste many different types of typical Peruvian food. The buffet includes drinks (pisco sour, chicha morada, wine) and dessert as well. Take a look at the website for more details: www.brujasdecachiche.com.pe
If you're looking for a more typical restaurant or if you're on a budget, you can try Rocky's, which is a rotisserie chicken chain restaurant. Pardo's Chicken is even better, but is a little more expensive.
My two just back recs --
Lima - Alfresco, it's located at: Malecon Balta 790 -Miraflores, some of the best ceviche we had on the trip. Tasty Pisco sours too.
Cusco - Granja Heidi in San Blas, great fresh food right off the owners farm. The best desserts.
El Rey - Tiny chicharrone place street stand type place, decent chicharrone and caldo.
Cevicheria El Rico Pez - a stand in the central mercado, the chilcano was great. I didn't have room for the ceviche.
Cusi Kuy - didn't try the kuy (guinea pig), but really liked the alpaca a la parilla and the papa la huancaina, mid priced with a cozy atmosphere and fireplace, food style is more casual than the food at the restaurants on the main plaza.
We live in the US and my husband and I decided to celebrate our wedding in Peru (where I am originally). We had a reception at LA ROSA NAUTICA for 80 people between close friends and relatives. We were charged $31.00 per person for the Criolla Menu which consisted in a couple appetaizers, causa rellena de cangrejo (crab) and as the main dish the famous Lomo Saltado. My mom tasted the food just to make sure we did the right decision. She said the food was good and a fair portion. However; on my wedding day was another story. The causa rellena didn't have good flavor and the crab smelled bad, and my bigger dissapointment was the lomo saltado... it wasn't the same presentation that my mom saw the first time , it was cold, dry,not too much and with no flavor at all... I was very upset and very frustated because the wedding reception was at 1pm and most of my guests didn't have breakfast that morning. Everybody was expecting a good food and a fair portion which never happenned...
I felt La Rosa Nautica just care of the tourist people and they ensure to have a good service in the other areas of this restaurant but in the reception area it was a disaster!!!
So, if you live outside of Peru and you are planning to get married and Lima, DEFINATELY LA ROSA NAUTICA IS NOT THE PLACE YOU'RE LOOKING FOR TO CELEBRATE YOUR WEDDING... do not pay attention that it is a famous place in Lima because at the end you will face the sad true.