10 Foods You Must Try in Lima Peru
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10 Foods You Must Try in Lima Peru

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Aug 26, 2020

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By Conrad McGarvey

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The Best Food in Lima Peru

Peru claims ownership of some of South America’s most popular dishes and cocktails. Blending Spanish, Chinese, and local indigenous cuisines, Peruvian food is a unique and lovely blend of flavors. Throughout Peru, visitors can delight in the masterful dishes, but Lima is at the center of it all.

Not only is this sprawling metropolis the capital of Peru but also the culinary capital of South America. Claiming nine of Latin America’s Top 50 Restaurants and, more recently, in 2019, two appearances in the world’s top ten restaurants, Lima is a required destination for any real foodie. Here are the top 10 foods you must try in Lima, Peru and the restaurants in which you can find them.

1. Ceviche

photo of ceviche and tortilla chips

You can’t talk about Peruvian food without saying ceviche. This quintessential Peruvian dish comprises fresh marinated fish, lime juice, rocoto peppers, onions, corn, and sweet potatoes. This light and healthy lunch is a must on any trip to Lima, especially if you’re on a gastronomy tour. If you are in the city’s Miraflores area, I recommend checking out the Mercado de Surquillo fish market for authentic ceviche.

If you have already sampled Ceviche in Peru, I recommend trying out either Conchas Negras (black clams) or Jelea (Platter of Fried Seafood). These are two popular alternatives to ceviche enjoyed by the locals all along the coast of Peru.

Best restaurants for ceviche in Peru
Mercado de Surquillo fish market, Lima

2. Rocoto Relleno

Rocoto Relleno is a Peruvian variety of stuffed peppers. Minced meat is inside the rocotos, then topped with melted cheese, before being baked and served. Rocotos are ten times spicier than jalapeño when raw, so be ready for some flavor. This flavorful appetizer is often accompanied by baked potatoes or various salads on the side.

Best restaurants for Rocoto Relleno in Peru
Rinconcito de Tiabaya, Lima

3. Cuy

fried cuy or guinea pig on peruvian table cloth

Cuy – or to you and me, guinea-pig – is a Peruvian delicacy and only ever eaten on special occasions. But with such an unusual item on any menu, how could you say no? After all, “when in Rome”!

Traditionally, cuy is stuffed with local herbs, roasted over an open wood fire, and served with baked potatoes. Again, if you are in the Miraflores area, I recommend checking out Panchita Restaurante for some deep-fried Cuy and checking off another box on your Peru to-do list.

Best restaurants for cuy in Peru
Panchita Restaurante, Lima

4. Anticuchos

Anticuchos are a popular meat dish, often made with cow heart. This inexpensive staple is at street-carts or street food stalls throughout the city. The meat is usually marinated in vinegar and spices (such as cumin, ají pepper, and garlic) and accompanied by a boiled potato or bread at the skewer’s end. The Mediterranean shish kebab is a comparable dish.

Best restaurants for Anticuchos in Peru
El Tío Mario, Lima

5. Lomo Saltado

peruvian stir fry called lomo saltado

Lomo saltado is a stir fry that typically combines marinated sirloin strips with onions, yellow Peruvian chilis, tomatoes, french fries, and other ingredients. The dish features rice and a salad. The meal originated as part of the chifa tradition, Peru’s Chinese cuisine, though its popularity has made it part of mainstream culture. There are many variations on the dish like chicken – Pollo saltado.

Best restaurants for Lomo Saltado in Peru
Hikari, Lima

6. Aji de Gallina

Ají de gallina is a chicken stew made from red onion, garlic, and ají Amarillo sofrito base. Shredded boiled poultry, bread simmered in milk, and pecan nuts are cooked and placed over the stew. Ají Amarillo is mildly spicy pepper, essential to many Peruvian cuisine dishes. It’s served with boiled potatoes, rice, and black olives.

Best restaurants for Aji de Gallina in Peru
Tanta, Lima

7. Pisco Sour

three different flavors of pisco sour cocktail

The famous Peruvian drink is made with pisco (alcohol from grapes), lime juice, simple syrup, bitters, ice, and egg white for texture and the picturesque foamy top. If a Pisco Sour isn’t on the menu, literally or figuratively, are you even in Lima?

But if you are, head to Museo del Pisco (it’s a bar, not a museum) for all you need to know about the Pisco Sour.

Best restaurants for Pisco Sour in Peru
Museo del Pisco, Lima

8. Alpaca

Alpaca’s taste is similar to buffalo or other grass-fed meats: somewhat gamier than beef and very lean and can be prepared in various manners. It is generally accompanied by different starches and vegetables, especially the potato. One traditional alpaca dish is apanado de alpaca, made with breaded alpaca meat, rice, potatoes, and salad.

Best restaurants for Alpaca in Peru
Huaca Pucllana, Lima

9. Pollo a la Brasa

Pollo a la Brasa

Pollo a la Brasa is a rotisserie chicken, but it’s much much better since it’s done in Peru. It’s one of the most consumed meals in Peru, along with ceviche. The dish consists of crunchy and juicy charcoal-grilled chicken that has been marinated in a particular combination of ingredients composed of vinegar, salt, pepper, rosemary, chili, and dark beer.

Best restaurants for Pollo a la Brasa in Peru
Granja Azul, Lima

10. Causa

Causa is a Peruvian mashed potato terrine with yellow potatoes and either tuna salad or chicken. Usually, the potatoes are cut into circles, and the filling is sandwiched in between. The dish’s flavors consist of mayonnaise, ají Amarillo chilis, and lime or lemon juice. Causa rellena is typically served cold on lettuce, while the top is garnished with black olives.

Best restaurants for Causa in Peru
La Mar Cebichería, Lima

Best Restaurants in Lima, Peru

Above all, Peru has mastered fusion cuisine, and it’s one of the main reasons why Lima is considered the culinary capital of South America. Combining South American ingredients and Chinese cooking styles has led to dishes like chifa, a Chinese-Peruvian fusion cuisine featured at almost every Peruvian restaurant. Lima is also a melting pot of flavors since it has seen significant immigration from nations as varied as Spain, Italy, France, China, and Japan.

1. Central

I’ll start with Lima’s most well-known, and also most exclusive restaurant, Central. Located in the city’s popular Miraflores area, it has been named the best restaurant in Latin America for three consecutive years (2014, 2015, and 2016) and ranked 2nd in 2017 and 2018.

About Central
Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León are a husband-and-wife team who have spent years sourcing local and little-known indigenous ingredients from Peru’s coastal region, the Andes highlands, and the Amazon rainforest to produce the best contemporary Peruvian cuisine.

Central Restaurante is the flagship restaurant of Chef Virgilio Martínez, who is also connected to top London restaurants.

Where is Central?
Central is located at Calle Santa Isabel 376, Miraflores, Lima, Peru.

2. Maido

Maido was voted to top the Latin American Restaurant in 2017 and 2018, which kept Central off the top spot. For me, Maido only takes second place as its not strictly Peruvian food, it’s a Japanese-Peruvian fusion known as Nikkei, and no one does it better than Chef Mitsuharu’ Micha’ Tsumura.

About Maido
Born in Lima, this local chef studied culinary arts in the United States and Japan before returning home to open the famous Maido. His passion for Japanese and Peruvian cuisine has led him to create new culinary trends where Japanese and Peruvian cuisines live in harmony giving birth to Nikkei cuisine.

Nikkei food consists of Peruvian ingredients like tropical fish, quinoa, and aji Amarillo peppers, but are molded by Japanese techniques. Some say Japanese influence in Peru led to and inspired the “cook it with lemon” preparation for ceviche.

Where is Maido?
Maido is located at: Esquina con, Calle San Martin 399, Miraflores 15074, Lima, Peru.

3. Astrid y Gaston

Astrid y Gaston is owned by the world-renowned chef Gastón Acurio. The original restaurant from 1994 opened in the luxury Miraflores neighborhood, but it is now in the historic San Isidro hacienda.

About Astrid y Gaston
Since its opening, Chef Gaston Acurio (Peru’s Original Celebrity chef) has been at the forefront of Peru’s modern fine dining scene in Lima. His work for Astrid y Gaston, in particular, has risen it to the ranks as one of the best restaurants in Lima, paying tribute to traditional Peruvian fares such as guinea pig, ceviche, and suckling pig.

The restaurant has an extensive wine list with over 250 wines and an elaborate tasting menu that comes highly recommended, changing every six months.

Where is Astrid y Gaston?
Astrid y Gaston is located at: Avenida Paz Soldan 290 Av. Paz Soldán 290, San Isidro, Lima, Peru.

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