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Cusco and Lima Peru Food Suggestions?

I am doing up the Inca Trail trek in early March and although I have read some of the threads here about food suggestions, I was wondering if i can a bit more info.

In Cusco, I am staying around the Plaza de armas and I am pretty interested in eating street food. I havent read much about the market scene over there if anyone has any input. I am interested in trying guinea pig and llama if anyone has any suggestions on that.

I will be in Lima for about 2 days and I was set on hitting up La Mar and Pescado Capitales, I am staying at the Sheraton in the historic district (horray starwood pts) does anyone have any suggestions for food around there?

I will be solo traveling so do you think I need a reservation for La Mar or Pescado? all suggestions are welcomed, I pretty much will eat anything or try anything.

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  1. I don't know where you're from but I caution against any sort of street food unless you know you're not going to get sick. We only drank bottle water yet we got sick. Chi cha in Cusco is a Gaston Acurio restaurant. They serve "cuy pekinese," or guinea pig Peking duck style. I've had it at Astrid & Gaston and loved it. Cusco itself is pretty small, you can pretty much walk everywhere. The altitude may slow you down a bit though.

    I do like La Mar and am not sure that you can make a reservation. I suggest you go early if it's the weekend as the place gets crowded. Personally I read the restaurant reviews on Fodor's and Frommer's and cross referenced them with the posts here.

    1. Go to Segundo Muelle (http://www.segundomuelle.com/index.php). Their seviches are creative and simply delicious. The aji amarillo seafood soup was decadent. Lastly, order the flan - so heavy and rich which would just smother you in cream and sugar... But avoid the pasta.

      1. In Lima, go to Manolo's and have a coffee and churros: http://www.manolochurros.com/

        And El Buen Gusto in Miraflores for empanadas.

        Go to Jack's for a solid breakfast in Cusco: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant...

        And to Cicciolina for an amazing meal: http://www.cicciolinacuzco.com/

        Have fun and enjoy!!

        1. thanks for all the suggestions! I the churros sound great because I have a bit of a sweet tooth. Is there any special breads/desserts/bakeries I should be on the look out for?

          My stomach has survived many trips to Taiwan and other Asian country street vendor and market food so I am hoping it is up to par with the markets in Peru. Any markets I should go to in Lima? I think Mercado Centrale is my best bet.

          side travel note: My spanish skills is High school spanish level, what is the experiences of taking taxis? From my research I know dont get into any shady looking ones and price is negotiated before hand.

          9 Replies
          1. re: jester99

            Manolo seconded. I am hopeless in front of food - I have to taste everything. The food hygene for my stomach was fine, but some others with less blessed constitutions may disagree.

            Taxis, funny you should mention it. We had a problem, actually, on our way to Segundo Muelle. You have to make sure that the drivers truly understand what you are saying, instead of just rushing into driving with "OK, OK!" SM is located in a residential neighborhood, so there are not that many landmarks that you can refer to. But I think one of the museums was not far, so tell the driver that it is in such and such direction. You, I am sure, know all these as you seem to have traveled wide and far. Just be firm, and absolutely firm - do not pay until you get to where you want to go.

            1. re: Au Gourmand

              thanks for the tip! I am too hopeless in front of food. If I see a line of people lining up for food, I immedeately jump in line...and then find out wtf they are selling haha.

            2. re: jester99

              Mercado Centrale is worth visiting and Chinatown is next door. One street food I had to try was anticucho (beef heart) sold by a butcher next to the market (it's a butcher shop with a grill). I thought it was pretty good. I also got some dim sum from a Chinatown street vendor that wasn't very exciting. Inside the market are a bunch of vendors that smelled pretty good but our guide didn't think it was a good idea for me to try them.

              1. re: Worldwide Diner

                Mercado Centrale is a place I really want to go to while I am there, is Mercado Centrale near Miraflores? I was also thinkin of maybe seeking out a guide to maybe help me with getting around and showing me places to eat.

                1. re: jester99

                  Mercado Centrale is close to the Plaza de Armas (near your hotel) but not Miraflores. If you read the guidebooks, it tells you not to walk around at night in that neighborhood. Miraflores is about a 15 minute drive. When you go to La Mar, plan to spend the rest of the day in Miraflores. We enjoyed shopping at the markets on Petit Thouars (it's long road and the markets are near the end of the street in Miraflores).

                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                    thanks for the feedback, my tentative plan is that i fly back cusco to lima friday morning and then spend that day in miaflores. I live the next night around ten so i was going to stick around Mercado centrale and barrio chino.

                    1. re: jester99

                      There's next to nothing in the Lima airport. Market Centrale and Chinatown might take you about 2 hours to visit, max. If I were you, I'd plan on lunch at La Mar when you get to Lima. After that, walk down to the coast to check out the park and Larcomar (for the views), then head north towards Petit Thouars for souvenir shopping. It's a hike but if you're gonna do the Inca Trail, you should be able to handle some city walking. For dinner, I'd suggest going to Huaca Pucllana, it's good not great good but the restaurant itself is a sight, not as fabulous as Machu Pichu but with glowing braziers and a pyramid in the background, it's something you should see if you're only doing Peru once. Next day do the market and chinatown, and the cathedral next to Plaza de Armas).

                      1. re: Worldwide Diner

                        dude you are awesome! thank you for all the advice and I am very much excited to go to Peru!

                        1. re: jester99

                          Cebicheria "Lobo del Mar", across the street from the Miraflores Colon Hotel, is my favorite place in Lima. A huge plate of delicious flounder ceviche costs about $10 and is enough for two people. Add to that a big bottle of ice cold Cusqueña lager and some cancha (toasted giant corn) and I'm very happy.

            3. Alpaca is something you should try around the Sacred Valley. The restaurant at El Albergue in Ollantaytambo does an excellent alpaca loin with a huacatay flavored potato mash. Be sure to try the giant corn if it is still in season. It was the only street food I was brave enough to try.


              1 Reply
              1. re: mlgb

                Yes, we had alpaca two or three times while in Peru and it was always very good - a bit like grass-fed beef. Giant corn was served to us as a appetizer in several places and it was good; I especially liked the toasted corn called "cancha", like "corn nuts" here but not quite so hard on your teeth.

              2. There are lots of storefront restaurants where you will do better than street food which makes me a bit nervous if not just for the tremendous amount of traffic and dirt that is going to settle on it.

                Not far from the Sheraton in Lima, If you walk south through the park, go across 28 de Julio, then there is a short street called Hernan Velarde, there is a little storefront where they sell nice pastries and decent coffee, it's on the south side of the street (can't remember which block, but it's a half block either side of Petite Thouars.

                Also if you walk around Arenales and Rep de Chile there are lots of little restaurants with good lunch menus.

                1. I would suggest to be careful on what you eat if you are not use to having street food, Cusco is a very touristic place, I’ve only been in Cusco once, did not get a chance to know many restaurants to give you an idea, but I have eaten Guinea pig before in other part of the Sierra of Peru when I was much younger and I loved it, I have also tried llama in Cusco and it is a very good meat, in Lima I can suggest a place in the District of Surquillo, it is called “Conchas Negras” very good seafood, great service, nice atmosphere, I am certain you will enjoy it very much. I hope this helped you a little bit, hope you have a safe and fun trip.
                  P.S. As they have suggested Miraflores is a great place to visit also and if you have the opportunity go to the Water Fountain Park, is spectacular.

                  1. Thanks for al the advice and suggestions! I leave next Friday and like any food nerd. lots of documentation and reports when I get back....hopefully I survive the trail haha.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jester99

                      Machu Picchu is a part of the rain forest and March is a part of the rainy season. We were there in Dec. 2009, it rained enough that most of our day after our visit to Macchu Picchu was spent in our hotel room. In Jan 2010, the train tracks were washed away by mudslides. Remember to pack accordingly.

                      1. re: jester99

                        Hey mate, I'm an Australian and am living in Peru now. I highly reccommend Mercado Surquillo 2 which is just across the main road from Miraflores.....so much easier to get to than Mercado Central and safer. Also it has recenlty been renovated (thanks to Gaston Acurio). In this market you will find absolutly anything you can think of...the variety of fruits is incredible!! I have a facebook page that is all about the food experiences of me and the Mrs in Peru..http://www.facebook.com/macadamiaylucuma... check it out also if you wish. And if you have any questions feel free to ask.. would be happy to help a fellow gringo out!

                      2. Ditto all re La Mar. Absolutely essential for a first time Foodie in Lima. Gaston Acurio is the leading light of Peruvian food on the word stage and this is the best of his MANY restaurants in Lima. Reservations not taken. Open seven days a week. If you are one or two, sit at the counter. You can usually get space there without much of a wait. Otherwise, get there at noon sharp to make sure you don't wait. Try their causus sampler and any of their cerbiches, but there are so many things to choose from hot and cold. If you aren't much on Espagnol, ask for the menu in English. Make sure you try the coca sour if you drink adult. Very very yum.

                        Beyond that essential beginner. Osaka is the best sushi place in a city known for amazing sushi. It is on a trendy street filed with high end shops called Av. Libertadores in the upscale San Isidro neighborhood. Seriously, this spot is incredible. Another well known upscale sushi place is Maido. It is in the equally upscale neighborhood of Miraflores on a quiet side street called Av. Colon. Well worth both your coin and time.

                        If you are ever so slightly adventurous, head to the seaside middle class neighborhood of Chorrillos (15 minutes by cab from Parque Kennedy, the epicenter of Miraflores) and go to a criollo restaurant in an amazing old mansion called Luchita. The venue is so interesting, that you might be tempted to dismiss the food as an after thought. This would be a mistake. Luchita does everything well, especially a hearty rice based disc called Tacu Tacu. Very inexpensive. The address is Zepita 207.

                        There are so many other amazing gastronomic experience of every stripe to be had in Lima. At the high end: Rafael, Cala, Rosa Nautica (On it's own pier on the ocean, incredible sunsets), Astrid y Gaston, Pescado Capitales, Casa Hacienda Moreyra (In an amazing restored Hacienda with classic veranda polished wood, flagstone floors) and Fusion are worth investigating. On the low end try a Pavo sandwhiche at Alejandro's in Barranco at 2 am. Classic post club grub washed down with always free fruit smoothie, or get your cerbiche where the locals do in places like Canta Rana or at a tiny hidden five table spot at the back of the El Capullo Mercado, both in Barranco.

                        And then there is the comidas mysterioso... Have classic French food served by Nuns in a working Nunnery in the Centro district at L'Eau Vive (Jiron Ucayali 370) but start the evening off having THE BEST PISCO SOURS IN THE WORLD in the amazing wood lined bar in the otherwise drab Hotel Maury, also in the Centro district. Talk to the bar master, he has been slinging booze there for more than 50 years and mixed drinks for John Wayne amongst many others. Still in mystery land, try speakeasy Peruvian/Chinese fusion at Chez Wong (Also known as Sankuay) in the safe but decidedly working class neighborhood of La Victoria. This place is, for me, the other must in Lima for a foodie. Reservations are essential, there is only one seating at lunch every day of the week but Domingo, and there is no menu. The courses chosen based on what is fresh from the docks that day and in the mind of the master Chef Wong, a dude who gets flown around the world and feted, but comes home to a hole in the wall 8 table restaurant in what looks like a former living room.

                        One final note. If you dig hand-made chocolates and other dulces, stop by Helena's on Calle Chiclayo, one block west of Av. Commander Espinar. This place is legendary and the must munch is the Taja Pecana blanco or chocolate. WOW.

                        Yay Lima! Comida Peruana para del Mundo!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Travelerdude

                          hey thanks for all the great info travelerdude...i am heading to peru in a few days, and this is just the kind of post i was looking for! any other bars you can recommend that have a lot of old world charm and history?? thanks for the 411

                        2. I second many of the recommendations above for Lima, which is a seriously amazing food city, but should caution you that I had mostly disappointing experiences eating in the Andes region.

                          Though I did not have a chance to eat at any of the high-end places in Cusco mentioned above, I got the sense that the area does not have good access to many fresh ingredients, so a lot of the everyday dishes you'll find taste frozen/canned/anemic and just lean excessively on salt, oil, and starch. It's very possible though that I just did a bad job of escaping the tourist traps.

                          Be especially careful in Aguas Calientes, which is the town you'll most likely be staying in right before going up to Machu Picchu. Restaurants there will actually do things like microwave a TV dinner, put it on a nice plate, and charge you $15 for it.

                          The few exceptions were when I bought food on the street from more indigenous people, such as papas rellenas (mashed potato molded around meaty fillings and deep-fried) and choclo con queso (the larger, sweeter local corn slahered it a local fresh cheese). But if you have a sensitive stomach, try these a your own risk.

                          1. Hello all, back and already missing Peru!

                            Ate so much and saw so many awesome things!

                            Quick version for now is in Cusco, ate at the market, had flans, afrajoles, rolls with queso and with the fresh churned cream, lechon and tamales and black coffee for breakfast. Chiccarons and adobo on av. Pardo, atichuchos from the street, chi cha and the purple drink. Ate at Ciccilona for lunch and a breakfast, Pancha for dinner and Kuikuy. Had alpacha and had the confited guinea pig at Ciccilona, due to time I did not get to eat whole roasted guinea pig but it was good nonetheless. El Buen Pastor is a must go to and had amazing and tasty pastries! Tamales are awesome in Cusco as well.

                            On the Trail we had an amazing porters and a cook that made all sorts of Peruvian dishes like lomo saltdo and chicken aji and even made some chifa fried rice, the purple corn pudding and the most impressive made a cake on a propane burner in the middle of the andes mountains!

                            After the trail in Agua Calientes ate at Indio Feliz which was insanely statisfying after hiking for 4 days and then had chifa food for dinner which was alright and interesting got spring rolls and the kulan wontons. Had antichuos again as well from an old lady on the street. She had like the old school chimmey air pump to fed the fire.

                            In Lima I was going to try and hit up La Mar but due to dumb delays, by the time I go into lima it was a bit to late to do ceviche. I pretty much went to Miraflores, had chocolate and churros at Manolo and ate torrones, picarones and had a lechon sandwich in Kennedy Park. I pretty much went around that night and ate whatever the whole time and ate a chicaron sandwich at la lucha and empandas at a non descript place around Park Kennedy and lomo saltado at a place called Natalie couple of blocks away from Park Kennedy. Next day I hit up Chinatown and had dim sum at Salon Capon and bought roast pork buns at Wa Lok and ate a sandwich from one of the carts. I ended up going to El Mercado restaurante which worked out well for a solo diner like me because they let me have half portions so I was able to create my own tasting menu. The octopus there was the best I ever had, didn’t even need a knife to cut it, it blew my mind. Got chocolates at Helenas and bought some more afrajoles from more random places. Had Pollo la Brasa at Pardos after a extensive poll from every taxi driver, bell boy and doorman I bumped into.

                            Oh yea, funny thing I ate at the ice cream parlor and got the hiliariously and somewhat politically incorrect ice cream sundae of the chinito panda.

                            Ate a lot of street food, stomach more or less held up. Had the antichuos, churros, picarones in Cusco, Agua Calientes and Lima, prickly pears, empandas, tamales and thats all the stuff i can think of off the top of my head. I wish i ate caldo gallino and the quail eggs but didnt get a chance too.

                            I think i did a good job, I am hoping to go back in the future and try and do the Lares trek or go to the Amazon so that will mean more Peru food treks in the future hopefully! thanks for all the suggestions!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jester99

                              jester I honor your appetite as well as your bold exploration of Peruvian food. I have spent many months there but due to having a sensitive GI system I had to be very careful. Loved reading about what you ate, though! BTW if you are referring to the buttery sandwich cookies with the caramel paste filling when you mention "afrajoles," the correct word is alfajores. They are awfully good aren't they? The filling is manjar blanco, basically sweetened condensed milk boiled down to a thick creamy paste. Yum.

                            2. side notes, taxis were safe, in fact when I was trying to get a taxi from Miraflores to the Sheraton, the first 3-4 were like...i dont want to drive that far.

                              Barrio Chino/chinatown was funny to me because it had the least amount of chinese people i have seen in a chinatown and the least amount of chinese people speaking mandarian or worse mandarin than me!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: jester99

                                Sounds like an excellent trip. We've been down the Amazon on MV Aqua during the dry season and would love to go back during the rainy season. The food on board is really good. There are other cruise options from Iquitos but we opted to splurge.

                                1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                  I got lucky with the weather, rained for like...an hr the whole time in Cusco and on the Trail, it was on and off light rain. The last day when we went to Machu Picchu was sunny! I will mos def look up trips to the amazon

                              2. Going to be in Lima, Cuzco, Piura and Trujillo.

                                Will not have any nice clothes really, so how "upscale" are the places like La Mar, Malabar, Astrid y Gaston, and some of the other more upscale places. Can I wear jeans and a collared shirt and sneakers?

                                Also anyone have any recommendations for high quality food in casual settings in any of these cities. Looking for some places to eat in Piura and/or Trujillo.


                                9 Replies
                                1. re: wreckers00

                                  No problem with your proposed attire for the Lima restaurants. There will be others dressed more formally, but you will not feel uncomfortable.

                                  1. re: wreckers00

                                    You can go most places in Lima in jeans/collared shirt/sneaks with the exception of some of the super ritzy places like Fusion in San Isidro. I would also not recommend eating in the main dining room at Astrid y Gaston in that outfit, it is definitely white table cloth dinning. Eating at the bar there is a better way to go if you are thus attired. La Mar no problem, Malabar, I have not been to. Also, I strongly suggest you go to El Mercardo for lunch, especially if La Mar is a long wait which it can be at times. El Mercado is as good food wise, style wise, and less crowded. It is about three blocks from La Mar.

                                    The number of high quality/casual setting options in Lima is staggering. In Miraflores alone you have La Mar, El Mercado, Osaka, Pescados Capitales, Maido, La Red, Alfresco, and Tanta to name a few well known places within easy walking distance of Parque Kennedy.

                                    Have not been to Piura or Trujillo.

                                    1. re: Travelerdude

                                      great thanks for the quick responses.

                                      Are there any "hole in the wall" or street-food type places that you recommend?

                                      1. re: wreckers00

                                        Canta Rana - Classic old fashioned Cerbicheria in Barranco
                                        Alejandro's - Sandwhicheria y Jugueria in Barranco

                                        there is a little 5 table restaurant at the back of a nondescript smallish outdoor mall in Barranco. The mall is called El Capullo. That place is amazing but a little hard to find.

                                        El Enano‎ - corner counter top style jugueria 4-5 blocks from Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores.

                                      2. re: Travelerdude

                                        I've seen American tourists in shorts and sandals at Astrid y Gaston. So they don't turn people away. I think jeans, collared shirt and sneakers are more than sufficient. I understand that A& G is upscale for the locals and they might think we're douches for wearing jeans to the restaurant but I think some them also understand that we're packed for Macchu Picchu or the Amazons.

                                      3. re: wreckers00

                                        A newer restaurant in Lima, in the Barranco district is 'Amor Amar'. It is really good and one of my favourites and is at the level of Astrid y Gasto etc. It is nice and relaxed 'cebicheria style' and has excelent drinks and lots of seafood! Just thought i would offer another option that doesn't seem to have been spoken to much of on the tourist scene yet but should be. I'm an aussie living in Peru so if you have any questions while your here drop me and email jason.nanka@gmail.com

                                        1. re: wreckers00

                                          Fuego is a new restaurant in Cusco. The chef is outstanding!! The food is too.

                                        2. FUEGO "Casa de Barbacoa" is new and a Great place to eat in Cusco

                                          1. So..hiking in Colombia, then going to stop in Peru again and Lima I will have about 2 days, I am going to revive this thread and ask, does anyone have any suggestions for chicharron sandwiches in Lima? I am going to hit up Squrillo this time anything in particular to eat there that i cant miss or just go Tucan Sam style and just follow my nose?

                                            I read about Amor and Amar and I think I want to try it out