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Jun 1, 2012 01:15 AM

Peru Restaurant Recap (Lima, Arequipa, Cusco)

Thanks everyone for the helpful recommendations on this board. We ate at a lot of markets and had great food, but here are the restaurants we visited in Peru.


Overall the food in Lima was fantastic. The people there clearly care about food and most of the chefs we saw were dedicated to their craft. However, there does seem to be a slight push toward the trendy rather than the tasty which we ran into a couple times. But everyday food there, in the market and local restaurants, was delicious.

Chez Wong (Calle Enrique Leon Garcia 114, lunch only): Solo, Chinese-Peruvian chef starts with beautiful whole flounder and filets it in front of you into the freshest ceviche you've ever had. Unlike some other preparations, this was ceviche in its simplest form: great fish, shallots, lemon juice, salt, pepper. Marinated for less than 2 minutes before reaching our table and served with chopped hot pepper. The restaurant is hidden, hard to find and hard to book, but is worth it just for this dish which is always served. The second course has an option (hot or cold) and we ended up with a simply perfect seafood stir-fry more asian than Peruvian. It was good but in itself not worth the trip, especially at the prices of around 60 soles per dish (both dishes are large enough to split, which most patrons did).

Chinen (Av. Republica de Panamá cdra. 45): We never would have found this, but we tagged along with the family we were staying with in Lima for lunch on the first day to this local hole-in-the-wall. Surprised to see it featured in this Gaston Acurio video, the food was a great introduction to Chifa Peruvian. Don't miss the lomo saltado with the provided hot sauce.

Central Restaurant: This is a top rated, posh restaurant in Miraflores. We wandered in because the restaurant we wanted to go to was closed for an unknown reason and were able to be seated at the bar where you can order from the full menu. We ordered 3 dishes a la carte, the best of which was the charred purple corn octopus appetizer. The arapaima and seabass entrees were good, but at these prices in Lima they were a bit disappointing. The chocolate dessert however was world class - a subtle and interesting combination of . Honestly this visit reminded me why I try to stick more to regional specialities when I travel as compared to ambitious modern / world cuisine. It reminded me somewhat of Vineria de Gualterio Bolivar in Buenos Aires, though much less molecular. It was a meal I felt like could be found in many places around the world with nothing distinctively Peruvian, though there were obvious efforts made to focus on Peruvian ingredients. I would skip this next time for food, but the drinks in the bar were some of the best we had in the country.

Pescados Capitales: One of the most highly recommended restaurants for ceviche in Lima, this too came as a disappointment. Perhaps coming 2 days after Chez Wong was not fair, but we greatly preferred the austere preparations from Chef Wong to the overly sauced, and overly sweet, ceviches here. The fish may have been top notch, but it was hard to tell with what we ordered. This was the biggest disappointment in Lima.


Zig Zag: OK, I'm embarrassed a bit but we stumbled into this tourist trap based on its consistent top marks on Trip Advisor and lack of other info about Arequipa on reliable sites. Perhaps to be expected, it was expensive, the food was forgettable, and the experience was over-the-top. What's the point of serving the meat on a hot volcanic stone? Well it's obviously not a culinary choice and I had to juggle to keep my alpaca at a reasonable doneness. Just look at the photo - it's fun, but if you care about food more than experience skip it.

ChiCha from Gaston Acurio: We didn't have a full meal here, just the peking cuy. Great space, especially the enclosed courtyard. The cuy was delicious if expensive. I'd go back for more.


Cicciolina: We ate here twice, once for breakfast and once for dinner right after our 5 day hike. Both times were great, despite the fact they lacked the local identify I criticized Central for earlier. Oh well-I'm not consistent, I just know these were well enjoyed meals with good wine. I won't fawn over it but if you want yummy, Italian-inspired, gut-filling food, go here. Book ahead as it gets busy.

Greens: Our stomachs just couldn't stand up to the onslaught of street food and we needed something to settle them before our 5 day hike. We came across this restaurant right next to the main square which promised organic, vegetable driven fare with most of its ingredients sourced from its own farm. Sounds risky, but my SF / Berkeley brainwashing made it sound strangely appealing. We had a solid meal here at a somewhat high price. But if you want something simple, light and fresh, I would recommend it.

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  1. Great report!
    Looking at JW Cusco in September for about 5 days as a base for Machu Picchu and Nazca.
    Couple days in Lima and south on the coast.
    Friends said they didn't have much of an appetite with the altitude and they said the food wasn't so great.
    Glad to hear you had better luck.

    15 Replies
    1. re: Beach Chick

      Other friends chiming in on Peru...loved it but altitude sickness was very problematic.
      Lived briefly in Mexico City..can take a toll along with time to adjust.
      Might have to rethink..

      1. re: Beach Chick

        You'll get a little boost from chewing coca leaves, as most there do.

          1. re: Veggo

            The coca leaves just help with altitude sickness. Nothing more. About like having a cup of coffee as far as stimulation. Bob had no reaction to the altitude. I just had kind of a bad taste in my mouth the first day. We'd walk around a bit and then lie down for a bit. Repeat. The following day I was fine. And it was so worth it. Even got to have cuy aka guinea pig :)

            1. re: c oliver

              Thanks so much!

              In regards to dining on 'Cuy' while in the Andes...ain't gonna my posts on 'eating an animal with a name'.
              ; )

              1. re: Beach Chick

                Never had a guinea pig :) The server was totally aghast when I ordered it. He went back to the kitchen, found out the translation, came back and asked "guinea pig?" I said "Si" and smiled really big. He was sooooo happy that I liked it :)

                1. re: c oliver

                  Friends say its all over the menus down there..
                  Love that you tried it!

                  I'll just chew on my coca leaves, drink the Pisco sours and just take in the sheer beauty of it all..did you fly over the Nazca lines..can't wait to step foot on the sacred Machu Picchu.

                  What do you think of the JW Cusco...looks fab.

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    Googled JW Cusco and the closest I came was a Marriott hotel. If that's the case, I doubt it was there when we were about 15 years ago. We stayed in the cutest little place where the charm ended at the door to our room. And it was the only place, other than Africa, where we didn't drink the water. It actually had 'particulate' floating in it :( At the time, you couldn't enter MP super early unless you're staying at the hotel there...and we weren't. IF we return, we'd stay there. Instead we took the train back to Cusco. I was not a formal CH at the time but we loved everything we ate. Chicharrones at an upstairs 'joint' where we were clearly the only non-locals. Restaurants on the square where local musicians would come through playing. And MP is absolutely magical. You'll love it.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Cusco looks lovely.
                      Super excited but concerns on altitude, tho' I work out but some can be overwhelmed with the altitude..needed a day our two in Mexico City to acclimate like when in Colorado..proactive on all counts.

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        Maybe check with your doctor for something preventive. I've got a pretty iron constitution so I try not to set myself up as an example. When we flew from Lima to Cusco, it was too late to head to MP (we took the train not hike!) so we had a day to acclimate which was plenty for us. But, honestly, ANY sickness is worth it, IMneverHO. Sometimes/rarely :) the food comes second...a distant second. Looking forward to reading all about it.

                          1. re: Beach Chick

                            My pleasure. It is our #1 or #2 favorite trip so far.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Can't wait with Machu Picchu in the mix, it will be surreal and magical.

                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                Just got back myself. Machu Picchu was gorgeous.

                                I would also highly recommend Ollantaytambo prior so you learn about the stone work and terrace building before visiting Machu Picchu. You can then recognize the stonework associated with temples vs common houses.

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  +1 on adding some time in Ollanta. I was there for 3 nights in March as the base for Machu Picchu trip; there's a train station with service to MP and fantastic food at El Albergue Ollantaytambo.