Lima and Cusco
Hi Everyone - My wife and I and two friends are going to Lima and Cusco over Christmas and New Years. I know that there have been many posts about both of these cities, but many of them are quite old (maybe out-dated?).
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated - especially links to other posts you found particularly helpful or Peruvian Chow Hounders who really know their stuff.
Also, what are the dishes we absolutely shouldn't leave Peru without having? Is the guinea pig good? Are the heart skewers for real, or is that just tourist drek?
We prefer the hole-in-the-walls and the street food to the gourmet, but I am sure we will be feasting on both.
Thanks for your help
Definitely eat guinea pig (if memory serves me right it's called "cuy al horno." The server looked at my blonde hair and pail skin and was sure I didn't know what I was ordering. But I persevered and it was just fine. A lot like chicken ! It is a little disconcerting with the little buck teeth lying there on your plate :) I don't think I had heart in Peru but I've had it in Peruvian restaurants and LOVE it. The main square in Cusco has a lot of restaurants and we had a great time in them all. Musicians will come in and play traditional music and then move on to another restaurant. We really enjoyed Cusco. In Lima we ate in an amazing restaurant right at the beach. I believe it was called Costa Verde and, although they have a menu, everyone has the buffet. We were, like, oh no, we don't like buffets. Well, this was amazing. It had every meat, fish, vegetable, dessert you can imagine plus made to order sushi. This was about ten years ago so don't know if it's there but I'm betting it is. And, of course, Macchu Pichu will take your breath away. Oh, on that note, I DID have a little altitude sickness when we first arrived in Cusco from Lima. I would just walk around a little and then lie down. Did that a few times. By morning I was fine and MP is actually a little lower than Cusco.
The anticuchos are genuine and are good, not just for tourists. Ceviche is a must - with ocean fish in Lima and with fish from the Amazon in Cusco if you can get it. I posted about eating a lot of guinea pig in very rural northern Peru a few months ago - although we were made to eat way too much in the communities we were working, it was delicious. Unfortunately, the times I've had cuy in restaraunts in Peru, the cuy was the size of a mouse and my portion had little to no meat. There are a lot of very upscale restaurants in Lima (that I've never been to). My preference is the "scene" (the only scene in the world that I actually like) in Barranco. Go there and explore.
Cusco is a bit touristy for me, but go, have fun, and eat well.
re: Sam Fujisaka
I couldn't remember the word "anticuchos" for the life of me! And I love 'em. Easy to fix at home too. My cuy, size-wise, really looked like a guinea pig. There was nothing exciting about it except I hadn't had it before. There was also a little "joint" upstairs on a side street where we had chicharones and beer with the locals.
One of the best meals we had in Cusco, was from a Picanteria called La Chomba. It is located on 339 Tullumayo, and though it looks far on maps, it isn't too far from Plaza de Armas - though walking uphill in the altitude....
Parallel to Avenida del Sol is a street called Pampas de Castillo, there are several Chicharonerias lining the street. During lunch they wheel some of the fryers into the street, so all you smell is pork and chicken frying.
Off of Avenida del Sol are several Anticucho carts during the evening. But the best anticuchos we had was on Choquechaca, which is uphill in the San Blas area. We only observed locals eating from these stands.
The best Cuy we had was prepared for us by the family of a friend, and it was fabulous. The version we had at Pacha Papa (listed in all the LP guides) was terrible.
Our visit to La Chomba:
Go to Lar Mar for their varietly of cebiche and tiger's milk (lunch only).
Astrid y Gaston for the most international presentation of Peruvian cuisine.
Huaca Pucllana served me a fried fatty cuy with no meat but the setting was spectacular. They have coal braziers as you dine on the porch.
These were the best restaurants we tried in Lima. I tried anticuchos....not a big fan of beef heart but definitely worth trying for a foodie.