Best Places to Eat in Peru
Peruvian cuisine is becoming almost as world-famous as its ancient ruins and is known for some of the best fusion cuisines in the world thanks to its amazing biodiversity and an incredibly wide variety of local ingredients. Peruvian Gastronomy is even listed as a UNESCO-protected cultural element and Peruvian restaurants frequently feature highly in the World’s Best 50 Restaurants yearly (for Latin America, Peru puts 9 in the top 50, including 3 of the top 4 restaurants for the entire region) So if you're a self-proclaimed ‘foodie’, a visit to Peru is a must. Below are some of the best restaurants you can find in Peru, recommended by our friend and Cusco resident, Maria Fernanda.
Restaurants in Cusco and the Sacred Valley
An institution in Cusco’s dining scene. You will find Cicciolina on the second floor of an old colonial house in Cuzco. A restaurant with a distinct ambience that has its own vibes. Perfect for a glass of wine and tapas in the bar area, or for more formal dining in the comfort of the intimate restaurant.
Nikkei cuisine includes fresh ingredients, crisp flavors, and an unparalleled level of professionalism when it comes to handling all the details. Demanding Japanese cooking techniques are used to reinvent Peruvian cuisine, adding in regional ingredients to achieve dazzling results. The LIMO experience — from their traditional balcony with a view of the Plaza de Armas — is a journey through Nikkei cuisine, complemented by a drink list that is sure to surprise you.
Kion Peruvian Chinese
Cantonese cuisine came from China to Peru together with a wave of Chinese immigrants. Ever since the founding of the first Peruvian-Chinese restaurant — or chifa, as they are known locally — in the early 20th century, this cuisine has gained ground and conquered palates throughout Peru, with its personality and warmth making it a favorite among Peruvians and visitors alike. The KION experience is a journey through Chinese culture in Peru and the transformations it has undergone, making it a delicious culinary attraction for the entire world.
This typical Cusquenian Picanteria is a revelation of the flavours and soul of the Andes - slow-cooked dishes emerge from clay pots and mud-brick oven on the patio. Rustic and rural, Pachapapa is located in an old mansion in the traditional neighborhood of San Blas, or T’oqokachi, across from the Church of San Blas, the oldest in Cusco.
Café Mayu - El Albergue Ollantaytambo
Located inside El Albergue hotel and organic farm, Café Mayu, their restaurant and café are open to hotel guests and travelers alike. Café Mayu on the train station platform offers espresso coffee, tea, cookies, brownies, sandwiches and salads. In the restaurant you will find a full menu for breakfast lunch and dinner using fresh organic ingredients from their organic garden and the Sacred Valley, offering a selection of Peruvian and European flavors. Alpaca steak, fresh salads, homemade fettuccine and fresh trout are a few items available on the menu.
Restaurants in Lima
Isolina Peruvian Tavern - Barranco
This is definitely the best place for Creole food in Lima. Slow-cooked stews, hearty dishes, authentic old-school Limenian food. It is a must when visiting the city, best for lunch. Beautiful ambience, tavern-style décor, Peruvian waltz, serves one of the best Lomo Saltado in the country and their “Papa Rellena” – mashed potato giant croquette stuffed with a delicious beef stew and deep fried - is also to die for. The Short Rib Seco stew (in a cilantro-based sauce) served with white beans is a
Peruvian favourite and theirs is fantastic. They also serve more curious stews made from beef feet, tripe and chicken sweetbreads. It has a great Pisco bar too.
Maido - Miraflores
There’s nowhere like Maido to experience Nikkei (Peruvian-Japanese) cuisine. Second on the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, and tenth in the World, Maido without a doubt, is one of the best dining experiences one can find in Peru. The Peruvian-Japanese fusion by default is wonderful and Micha takes it to the next level. Look out for their tasting menu which features Miso marinated cod or Lapa frozen ceviche with nitro-frozen Leche de Tigre is incredible. Everything Mitsuharu does is always spectacular and absolutely delicious, a trip of the senses through Japanese and Peruvian cultures and flavours.
Fiesta - Miraflores
The most famous Peruvian chef’s go-to restaurant. For 25 years they have been serving the best northern-Peruvian classics - product-focused, with a refined twist. Their hot ceviche is a staple that has been often copied but never equalled, they grill the fish in a yellow-chilli-pepper/corn beer marinade over corn leaves resulting in the most incredible flavours. They work mostly with what they claim is the best fish in the world – the Murike grouper, brought fresh from the northern coast, served in ceviches, or by the cut, grilled or fried. The crispy collar should not be missed. Their rice dishes are also famous, “Arroz con Pato” (duck and green coriander rice, cooked with corn beer and Loche pumpkin) and “Arroz Mojadito” (seafood moist rice with intense Peruvian flavours) are among the best.
Central & Kjolle - Barranco
Where it all started with Virgilio Martinez. Virgilio is a true genius and his tasting menus at Central (11 or 14 ecosystems) are not only a great expression of his creativity and the ongoing research at MATER, but they are also the perfect way to understand Peru through its incredible biodiversity. Central even ranked #2 on the planet in the World's 50 Best Restaurants list.
In terms of food, however, although the small plates are without a doubt palatable, it is not for everyone. I would say it is more of a learning experience than a meal. If you have limited time in Lima, go for Kjolle instead. Virgilio’s wife Pia León's – who ran the kitchen at Central for a long time - new restaurant. It has the Central DNA and serves the food it used to in its early stages - with technique and sophistication but bigger portions and a la carte.
In the same location, Casa Tupac, Virgilio and Pia have MAYO, a cocktail bar and tapas restaurant that also serves brunch.
La Mar - Miraflores
The best seafood restaurant in Lima, by Gastón Acurio. Lunch only. Everything they serve is perfectly executed, super fresh and exquisite. The perfect place to try ceviches, causas, parmesan scallops, black scallops, etc. Laid back, fish market/cevichería style ambience.