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.
Does anyone have any comments on the following restaurants in Lima?
Haiti, Av. Diagonal 160. Right across from Parque Kennedy in the heart of Miraflores
• La Fonda, San Fernando 380.
• La Mas Antigua (also known as Dalmacia), San Fernando 401.
• La Rosa Nautica, Espigon #4, Circuito de Playas.
• Manolo, Av. Larco 608.
• Mavery, Av. Del Ejercito.
• Rincon Chami, Esperanza 154.
• Trattoria di Mambrino, Manuel Bonilla 106.
Thanks in advance.
I'm assuming these place recommendations come out of the recent WaPo article by Jonathan Yardley?
I have not been to all of them, but would say this:
Dalmacia: get the pulpito a la parilla salad. Some of the best octopus I've ever had in my life! The menu is very windy across Peruvian, Mediterranean and other dishes so go in with an idea of what to order before sitting down.
Manolo: the churros are so good, they pretty much melt in your mouth (and only $1 each!)
Trattoria di Mambrino: very good, but not great Italian food (this is Lima after all!) and a super rich and tasty brownie dessert.
For anyone coming to Lima, I would also recommend going to the plaza of Barranco (any taxi driver can take you for 8 soles) on Sundays for an incredible assortment of traditional Peruvian dishes prepared at an outdoor market/buffet. I especially recommend the Tacacho con Cecina (jungle food of mashed plantain and rice steamed in a banana leaf with delicious pork and a bit of extra crispy fried pork belly on the side), Juanes (more jungle rice, this time with chicken and spices cooked in a banana leaf), Tacu Tacu (a traditional coastal dish of beans and rice mashed and then fried, served "a lo pobre" with steak and a runny egg), and the arroz con pato (cilantro rice with duck and peas). Go with a few people so that you can share plates and the total bill will end up at less than 30 soles ($10) per person!
There are a ton of great restaurants all over Lima, so definitely ask the locals and venture out of Miraflores, especially if you feel comfortable with Spanish...
I have had to research this for clients of mine - and this is what I came up with....
Astrid y Gastón
Address Cantuarias 175
Price Main courses S/39-S/65 ($11-$19)
Hidden discreetly behind a nonchalant facade on a busy side street leading to Parque Central is this warm and chic modern colonial dining room and cozy bar. The restaurant has high white-peaked ceilings and orange walls decorated with colorful modern art, the products of local art students. At the back is an open kitchen where one of the owners, Gastón, can be seen cooking with his staff. The place is sophisticated but low-key, a description that could fit most of its clients, who all seem to be regulars. The menu might be called "criollo-Mediterranean" -- Peruvian with a light touch. Try the spicy roasted kid or the excellent fish called noble robado, served in miso sauce with crunchy oysters. The list of desserts is nearly as long as the main-course menu. At evening's end, Astrid (the other member of the husband/wife team) often takes a seat and chats with customers at their tables.
Address General Borgoño, Block 8 (Huaca Pucllana)
Cuisine Latin American
Price Main courses S/28-S/65 ($8-$19)
Sometimes the setting is so splendid that the food hardly enters into the equation. That's not exactly the case here -- the solid but expensive criollo preparations are certainly satisfying -- but the interior of this art- and antiques-filled three-story mansion, with a warren of sumptuously decorated small dining rooms, would outclass just about any kitchen. One of Lima's most seductive new restaurants, it is a splurge but well worth it for an extraordinary experience. The house looks like a cinematically art-directed Mexican hacienda, and some pieces of the owner's private collection on display are extremely valuable. The restaurant plays host to its share of bigwigs, who enjoy simple, traditional Peruvian specialties such as ají de gallina (chile cream chicken) and tacu tacu (Peru's standard, slightly spicy rice and beans), as well as nicely prepared dishes such as sole in a langoustine and garlic salsa. On Friday and Saturday evenings, there is dancing on the top floor (dining at the restaurant is not required), which draws a sophisticated, mature crowd.
Las Brujas de Cachiche
Address Jr. Bolognesi 460
Cuisine Latin American
Price Main courses S/30-S/62 ($9-$18); lunch buffet $33, including 2 glasses of wine
The "Witches of Cachiche" celebrates 2,000 years of local culture with a menu that's a tour of the "magical" cuisines of pre-Columbian Peru. The chef even uses ancient recipes and ingredients. The extensive menu includes classic Peruvian dishes, such as ají de gallina, but concentrates on fresh fish and shellfish and fine cuts of meat with interesting twists and unusual accompaniments. Brujas de Cachiche sole is prepared with Asian and criollo spices, and served with peas and bell peppers sautéed in soybean sauce. A steak in pisco-butter sauce is served with braised mushrooms. Among the excellent desserts, several continue the indigenous theme, such as mazamorra morada (purple corn pudding and dried fruit). The restaurant, in a sprawling old house with several warmly decorated dining rooms, is popular both night and day with well-heeled Limeños, expat businessmen and foreign government officials, and tourists; it's exclusive and it's expensive, but it's worth the splurge. A lunch buffet is served Tuesday through Friday and Sunday from 11am to 4pm, and gastronomic festivals are frequent.
Restaurant Huaca Pucllana
Address Av. Arequipa 4698
Cuisine Latin American
Price Main courses S/34-S/79 ($10-$23)
Located in an unparalleled setting -- within the compound of 1,500-year-old construction of an adobe pyramid built by the original inhabitants of Lima -- is one of the city's greatest dining surprises. A beautiful and serene upscale restaurant with knockout views of the pyramid, secluded in the midst of Lima's chaotic jumble, makes for a remarkable night out. The low hump of adobe bricks and excavation walkways are illuminated at night, and diners can take a tour of the construction and digs after dinner. The restaurant is handsomely designed in a rustic colonial style; you can dine indoors or out, but the best spot is surely the covered terrace. The menu is creative Peruvian, with fusion touches spicing up classic criollo cooking. Excellent appetizers include humitas verdes (tamales) and causitas pucllana (balls of mashed potatoes with shrimp and avocado). Main course are focused on meats, such as rack of lamb, but I had an excellent marinated grouper with an interesting Asian twist. Desserts are worth saving room for; the napoleon, with chocolate mousse and passion fruit sorbet between chocolate cookies, is heavenly.
We just returned from Peru. The two best meals we had in Lima were at Gaston's lunch only place, La Mar, in Miraflores, and El Segundo Muelle, also in Miraflores and also specializing in fish. In Cusco, the restaurant in the Novotel was quite good, and the Italian restaurant off the main Plaza, called Encanta, was excellent with a show kitchen and superb bread, pizza, salads, etc. Not much to recommend in Aguas Calientes, unfortunately; but would be interested if anyone had a good experience....
My spouse is from Peru. We have visited family and friends there on multiple occassions over the last 5 years. As a white guy fro the U.S. and current Canadian resident, I can say withiut a doubt, after much travelling, that Peru simply has some of the most amazing , healthy, and delicious food I have found anywhere. I urge everyone to mark this country on the list of destinations that must be visited. The restaurants, both large and small, serve fare that is unbeleivable. I have had the fortune of being accompanied by locals, which has allowed me to overcome the hesitation many North Americans might feel about eating at street vendors and establishments that many would consider 'holes in the wall'. I insist that if you are to visit that you eat at many of the local street vendors of anticuchos, picarones, etc, that grace the city streets. If you can handle it, try it as hot as it gets. Peru is known for it's many ajis or peppers grown almost exclusively in Peru. As is mentioned in the initial blog, Peru's seafood is beyond compare, you will be privy to variatals seldom available elsewhere. For foreigners it is best advised to have a local friend or guide to take you around. For as a North American, alone, you will likely be guided to the places that it is felt you will be comfortable and not the best this beautiful country has to offer. Although it might seem jaded of me, I can say as an aside, that the people and cuisine of this country are to admired by us all. If you have the means, make sure you travel here. You will never be the same. Viva Peru!!