Buenos Aires, Lima, Cuzco, Aguas Calientes, and Panama City report
Just got back from the above-mentioned cities and ate some incredible food. My wife is a vegetarian and I eat everything. Here's the report!
1. Don Julio - Pretty typical Argentinean restaurant (steaks and Italian food) located in the Palmero SoHo area. I got a lomo saltado (tenderloin) cooked rare. The meat was just amazing, 100% grass fed and it was cooked perfectly. My only complaint was it was a little under seasoned, but the meat itself was just awesome. My wife got a ravioli stuffed with cheese and a tomato pasta sauce. We thought the food was good, but also felt like it lacked seasoning. We got an awesome bottle of malbec which was like $15. Overall, really good restaurant and I'd definitely go back. Price was about $10-12 USD a plate. Highly recommended.
2. La Josephina - Again, a typical Argentinean restaurant located in the Palmero Viejo area. Ended up getting a lomo saltado again cooked rare. Meat was not as tender as Don Julio, but was seasoned better. I think, despite the lack of seasoning, i still preferred the lomo saltado at Don Julio. My wife ordered a herbed pasta with olive oil. She really liked the dish a lot. We finished off with a caramel flan that was also really good. We also ordered a really good malbec there. Price was about $10-12 USD a plate.
3. El Sanjuanino - This is an old-school, famous empanada place in the Recoleta neighborhood. Ordered a beef chorizo and My wife and I shared a sampling of empanadas (carne, corn, cheese, veggies). This place had the best empanadas that I had on the entire trip. Really flaky crust and well-seasoned stuffing. The beef chorizo i got as pretty good, but nothing great. I'd come back for the empanadas at this place for sure. My wife ordered the humita, which is basically a corn tamale. She thought it was pretty good, but also thought the empanadas were awesome. $6-8 USD a plate here. Highly recommended.
4. El Guerin - Pretty famous pizza place in the Microcentro area. Wasn't too impressed by Argentinean pizza in general. Despite something like 40% of the population in BA is of Italian decent, the pizza is just a little too cheesy and the bread is to dense. Probably wouldn't go back here. Really crowded during lunch time (when we went).
1. Astrid y Gaston - We had to hit up the famous restaurant. I did the tasting menu here ($40 USD, what a deal). They gave us this bread plate that was very very good. fresh baked bread, some of the best bread i have ever had. Started with a trio of ceviche was was amazing. Perfect amount of acid and the fish was awesome. Second course was a tempura battered prawn with a lima bean puree. Also a very good dish. Third course was a lomo saltado. Great meat, but still preferred the lomo saltado in BA. Fourth course was tons of dessert. We actually had to take the pastries home with us because we couldn't even move. Hands down the best dining experience I had on the trip. My wife ordered a veggie stew and some scallops (she braved seafood since we were in Lima). She really liked her food. Ended up being about $110 for everything, including a few drinks, tax, and tip. Highly recommended.
2. Franchesco - Pretty famous ceviche place that came highly recommended on Chowhound. Sits on the beach in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima. They're famous for there cream sauced ceviche. I ordered the signature ceviche trio that comes with 3 different types of cream sauces (fish was flounder i think). Great ceviche, but started feeling a little uneasy after drinking pisco sours and eating the ceviche. I think it was an overdose on the acid. Ceviche was really good though, although I think i preferred the Astrid slightly more. My wife ordered a veggie lasagna. She didn't like it at all. Not veggie friendly at all. I think the bill for the both of us was about $50 out the door.
1. Inka Grill - In the Plaza de Armas (same owner as Limo). Ordered braised lamb shank and My wife ordered a sweet potato ravioli with butter and sage. We both loved our meals. Really well l prepared, nice presentation, and very fairly priced (i think we were out for $30 USD including drinks). Highly recommended.
2. Limo - Also in the Plaza de Armas. I had grilled alpaca here that was amazing. Probably the second best meal I had on this trip. It was seared perfectly and the inside was moist and juicy. It was my first time having alpaca and was amazed at how un-gamey the meat was. My wife ordered veggie sushi rolls and fried potato and cheese balls. She also really liked her meal. Also has the best pisco sour of the trip here. We had a purple corn dessert here that was good and not too sweet (so somewhat healthy). A little more pricey than the other places we ate at, probably close to $45 USD for the both of us. Highly recommended.
Machu Pichu/Agua Calientes
1. Indio Feliz - Small little French-Peruvian bistro in Agua Calientes. The owner/chef is French and his wife is Peruvian. Guess they only use local ingredients and it really shows. Great freshly baked bread with homemade butter to start. I ordered a trout (caught nearby) with a passion fruit sauce. Same with all sorts of sides - fresh chips, rice with sauce, grilled passion fruit, and a few other things. My wife ordered a pasta that came disassembled. So you add sauce, herbs, etc as you want them. She thought this was the best meal she had on the trip. We liked Indio Feliz so much we came back the next day to watch the World Cup final and we ordered a orange creame pie that was excellent. Highly recommended.
1. Beirut - Never in our lives would we have though that some of the best Middle Eastern/Lebanese food we would ever have would be smack middle of Central America. This place is in the downtown area across the street from the Marriott casino. It came highly recommended on Chowhound. I ordered a beef shwarma plate with rice and My wife ordered a falafel sandwich. Man, I could not believe how good the food was here. I would say best or very close to the best shwarma i have ever had. My wife felt pretty much the same about her plate. I think my plate was like $12 and My wife's plate was $8 or so. Highly recommended.