Fine dining in Peru

Fine dining in Peru

Peru’s cresting culinary reputation is seeping past its shores – Tom Shearman from Andean Trails explains what's on the menu, and the best places to find it all

Shh...Coastal Lima is the main attraction, so get in quick and ride the mainly (seafood) wave while hip Peruvian food is still that.

Tell me more…Peru has more than 2,000 varieties of potato and virtually all the tropical fruits and vegetables you could wish for, imagine and then eat. The classic coastal dish is ceviche, raw fish marinated in lemon juice with onions and red peppers.

So what is Peruvian food?

Peru is one of the most geographically varied countries in the world; mix in its history of immigration, and its no surprise that Peruvian food reflects this dazzling diversity. Lunch is the main meal of the day (served any time between 12-5pm). Peruvians particularly love their aji (chili pepper) andajo (garlic) but each region boasts its own specialities. International culinary influences include Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Pakistani flavours and more.

The country's long Pacific coastline is fed by the Humboldt current, providing rich fishing grounds and a stupendous array of seafood. Its rugged Andean mountains are the perfect nurseries for grazing animals. Llamas and alpacas are lovely to look at and taste great too! On menus they nestle alongside fine pork meats (suckling pig is popular, called lechon), beef, goat and the festival favourite cuy (guinea pig).

Vegetarians are incredibly well catered for in Peru's main cities these days. Chefs combine the flavours of the freshest fruits, herbs and spices from the verdant Amazon and valleys with rice, potatoes, eggs and more to create innovative dishes. Peppers (recoto relleno) are stuffed with a boggling array of foods: a definite must-try.

If you want to try the more day to day Peruvian cuisine, the empanadas are delicious and (my personal favourite for a quick meal) roast chicken cafes with Inka Kola are ubiquitous. The locals love it, and so will you!

The growing number of top end restaurants has meant prices have risen too; you can easily pay USD 50 for one dish in some establishments. The cheapest Menu del Día I saw last year was two soles (about 80 cents/65p) for starters, main, pudding and water. Take care in cheap places though, and only eat where it's packed with locals.

You will still see traditional pachamanca being made in many parts of Peru. Pachamanca is cooked in the ground using hot stones, and comprises meat (chicken/guinea pig/beef/lamb), potatoes, beans and spices. Delicious.

Top 5 restaurants in Lima

La Rosa Nautica
$$$
The classic: You sit above the crashing waves, while the efficient staff serve arguably Peru's top ceviche.
www.larosanautica.com

Astrid and Gaston
$$$
You have to book ahead - weeks, maybe months. THE hot plate in Peruvian cuisine, expensive too, but worth it.
www.astridygaston.com

Central Restaurant
$$$
Innovative chefs give you a taste of almost every part of Peru. Again, you need to book ahead, and be prepared to try new combinations.
centralrestaurante.com

Edo Sushi Bar
$$
Japan and Peruvian cuisine blend perfectly and at Edo the blend is giddying. Not the prettiest place in the world, but tell that to your taste buds.
Calle José Cossio 292, Magdalena, Lima

Empanadas Paulistas
$
If you want a quick bite to eat and also try something very Peruvian, then Empandas Paulistas is the one. Locals flock to grab a tasty empanada - like a pasty with a variety of meat/seafood/vegetarian fillings.
www.empanadaspaulistas.com

Other restaurants/markets to visit in Peru

Loved the food? Want to buy some for yourself? Or just see it in all its market glory?

Lima
See where it all comes from at Mercado Municipal de Magdalena (Jr. Leoncio Prado s/n, Magdalena, Lima 17, Peru)

Arequipa
Mercado San Camilo is famed for its fresh fruit juices:

(or watch the video here at www.youtube.com)

San Jeronimo, near Cusco
Cusco's main produce market, Mercado Vinocanchon, is near the edge of town. Produce is trucked here from small producers at every altitude level from Amazonia (as low as 200m) to the Altiplano (3,800m+), and the variety being unloaded hourly is incredible. Try the bread with fried cheese washed down with hot chocolate.

El Fogon, Huaraz, north Peru
$$
Huaraz gets serious about its food. The meats here are second to none, coupled with an excellent wine list.
Av Mariscal Luzuriaga 928, second floor, tel: 043 421267

www.elfogon.com.pe

Chicha, Cusco
$$
A bit of everything here, and all of it delicious, be it international or Andean.
www.chicha.com.pe

Fallen Angel, Cusco
$$
Tucked away in a beautiful little plaza, close to the main plaza, this is a great place for a flashy Saturday night. Start with a cocktail, the tuck into the brilliantly prepared food.
www.fallenangelincusco.com

Bio

Tom Shearman lives in Barcelona, Spain, and has worked for 10 years at Andean Trails, South America Tailor Made and Adventure Holiday specialists. They offer Peru fine dining tours - head to www.andeantrails.co.uk to check out all the options!

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