Lima, Peru, a great place to explore new flavors.
By Isabel Guerra
Lima Local Expert
Due to the many influences that make Peruvian cuisisine what it is nowadays, and to the many diversity of regional cuisines, this list we offer you here tries to be a fair representative of every little aspect of this blooming gastronomy.
Although it may seem a bit odd, there's a strong presence of Asian cuisines here, especially Chinese and Japanese, and that's why we have chosen Niqei, a restaurant focused in Peruvian-Japanese fusion that has won unanimous accolades from all sectors: Japanese food but with an unmistakable Peruvian style that is conquering new fans every day with its seafood-based dishes.
And to keep up with seafood, which is one of the Peruvian cuisine especialties, you may want to visit either Cebicheria La Mar or Segundo Muelle, both of them excellent alteranatives for trying one the most famous Peru flagship dishes: the ceviche (fresh fish fillets marinated in lime juice).
Other restaurants take a look at other Peruvian regional cuisines, like Chala Costa Fusión and Panchita, which focus on traditional creole food (with more or less fusion), mostly from the Peruvian coast; and Kamcha, that homages Andean food and cultures with delicious and colorful dishes.
For going fancy, Huaca Pucllana and Malabar are places that will add a new dimension to your culinary experience. And, on the other side, going popular, Pardos Chicken serves an excellent version of the ubiquitous "pollo a la brasa" (Peruvian Roasted Chicken), and Mavery especializes in Italian flavors, very especially pizzas and osobucco, but with a Peruvian touch.
Chala Costa Fusión
As its name indicates, this place focuses in the cuisines, flavors and ingredientes from Peruvian coast, specially (but not exclusively) seafood and creole dishes, with some winks to Mediterranean cuisines. The d�cor, a mixture of Limenian creole, international trends with a definitely tropical soul, will give you a warm welcome, and a friendly atmosphere to enjoy your dinner or lunch. Located in one of the most scenic and romantic areas in Barranco, it is a very good choice either for a romantic dinner or for winding down after spending a whole day touring Lima. Always ask the waiters for the new additions to the menu. (51 1 2528515)
This is a restaurant named after the archaeological complex located next door; Huaca Pucllana, a ceremonial center dated from Pre Inca times, that is still under thoroughful research. The restaurant has a large terrace, from which you can enjoy a privileged view of the place, while enjoying your lunch or dinner. You may as well book a complete tour to see the entire complex (including a small site museum) and reserve a lunch or dinner, to complete your experience. The place specializes in typical Peruvian cuisine and local ingredients, in large servings; Creole Food, Novo Andean fusion, Traditional Seafood, you have a wide variety to choose from. (51 1 4454042)
Peru claims to have one of the best Japanese-fusion cuisines in South America, and since there's a big community of Peruvians from Japanese descent, there must be some truth in this. And you will feel inclined to believe it when you visit Niqei, a place that has earned itself a reputation re-inventing Peruvian-Japanese fusion. Niqei has very large offer of makis and sushis including Peruvian flavors and textures, even in crispy versions, and with Peruvian sauces. Its most famous creation is the "Maki Atakutado", a maki made from "tacutacu", a very Peruvian mixture of rice and beans. Check also for the desserts and the cocktails. (51 1 3722230)
One of Peruvian most popular foods is the pollo pollo a la brasa, or "Roasted Chicken Peruvian Style"; you can find a poller�a in almost every neighborhood, and there's also different prices to fit every budget. Peruvians are very keen on pollo a la brasa since it's affordable, kid-friendly, and the most important thing -delicious. Pardo's Chicken claims it serves the best pollo a la brasa in Peru, and its large servings are easy to share and unexpensive; they come along with fries and some greens, but you can also order any of the large house salads. The menu offers other Peruvian barbecue specialties, too. Pardos Chicken currently has branches in Chile, Bolivia, Mexico and Miami. (51 1 4623940)
"Kamcha" is in Peru the name of a Peruvian snack, that is, toasted corn, that has always been part of the Quechua culture. This is a thematic restaurant, dedicated to Peruvian food and to all the cultural elements traditionally related to it, focusing on the typical, Peruvian regional flavors and colors: the decor is mostly Andean-themed and with bright, intense color combinations. There's a dining room decorated like a street market, for example. The menu is large enough to have options suitable for everyone, but we recommend specially the "cabrito a la nortena" (suckling goat prepared in the northern coast style) . There's some kid-friendly options, too. (51 1 2713900, 51 1 2713900)
Panchita is a fancy place inspired in the typical Peruvian picanterias and anticucherias, that is, traditional, popular, working-class intended creole food spots. Despite being a little pricey for locals, its superb cuisine and flavors make it an unmissable spot for both local and foreigners, so keep in mind that you will need to book a table in advance if you don't want to wait at the bar. The most requested dish here is the anticuchos ,(beef heart, grilled) and there's also a wide array of different and delicious creole food options, like the Aji de Gallina or the Lomo Saltado. (51 1 2425957)
This is a top notch Peruvian chain restaurant, that is acknowledged by its flavors and by the freshness and creativity of its dishes. The restaurant aims to combine the traditional Peruvian seafood with many different international cuisines such as Asian, Italian, Mediterranean, etc. This is one of the best places in Lima to enjoy a typical cebiche (fresh fish fillets marinated in lime juice), but it also has many other choices, like its famous shrimp-based creations, and popular Peruvian dishes like the Chicharr�n de Mariscos (fish cracklings), or Parihuela (spicy fish and shellfish soup), and many more. Its nice open terraces will add to your gastronomic experience. (51 1 7179999)
Cebicheria La Mar
Owned and run by the popular Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio, this top-class restaurant is inspired in the Peruvian popular cebicherias, or restaurants specialized in cebiche along all Peru. If you do not have issues with the idea of enjoying some raw, fresh fish fillets marinated in lime juice, you will for sure enjoy an unforgettable gastronomical experience here. Take into account that La Mar does not take reservations, so you should arrive early for lunch. Stylish decor, moderate prices, it take the popular cebiche to a new level. La Mar aims to spread worldwide this Peruvian flagship dish, so nowadays it has franchise restaurants in San Francisco, Mexico DF, Santiago de Chile, Sao Paulo, Bogota and New York. (51 1 4213365)
Malabar Restaurant & Bar
The word "Malabar" in Spanish means "juggling", and according to the chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino this concept expresses this restaurant's daily work: entertaining and delighting their guests with new and delicious mixtures and creations, which are described as "author cuisines with Peruvian roots". The menu always offers dishes made from Peruvian ingredients from all regions, as a way to communicate the country's biodiversity. The place itself it's like a haven hidden in the middle of the financial district of San Isidro: war, colorful yet contemporary decor, and a welcoming, well-stocked and classy bar, which was included among the Top 10 Bars in the World by Food & Wine cocktail guide magazine. (51 1 4405200, 51 1 4405300)
This nice, quite rustic cafe is not a night club nor a dance spot, but does schedule some live music shows regularly, and in a few years has become quite a referent regarding bohemian coffee places, especially among young people. Run by the Keenan family, Caf� Z offers breakfasts, menu options for lunch, sandwiches that can perfectly fit as lunch or as an on-the-go dinner: but you can also find salads, pizzas, and empanadas (stuffed with beef or poultry). Of course, they serve many Peruvian coffees, freshly brewed, and many tea blends, as well as fruit juices, soft drinks, wines and cocktails. (+51 1 4445579, +51 1 4441441)
About Isabel Guerra
Isabel is a freelance Journalist, Writer, and Photographer born and raised in Lima, Peru, where she currently lives: in addition to her writing career and to her traveling almost all over Peru, she has served as News Editor at LivinginPeru.com and Lima Co-Editor for WCities.com. Currently she is also a Contributing Photographer in Peru for Getty Images Latin America, and also lectures some Journalism courses at Universidad Cientifica delSur. Besides her passion for writing, Isabel is a mom, a choir singer and a music lover; lately, thanks to Internet radio, she’s become enamored with world music and jazz.
Read more about Isabel Guerra here.