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Going Veggie in Lima, Peru



Once in Lima, just walking by the streets and taking a glance and food stalls and supermarkets, you will discover that Lima, Peru, has a whole new new world yet to be discovered for the vegetarian world outside. Peruvian fruits from all regions, vegetables from the Andes and exotic flavors from the Amazon rainforest, will add a lot more new items to your list. However, despite this fact, there are not too many gourmet 100% veggie restaurants in Lima, probably because the cuisine from the coastal lands tends to focus in meats.

However, there are choices to find a place and have a good vegetarian meal: a maybe not so wide range of options, but these are quality. The most of the vegetarian offer focuses in Miraflores and in Lima downtown, probably because those are the districts most visited by tourists.

Just to start, there's a place that has built a solid reputation in the last few years is Alma Zen, that claims to use only 100% organic ingredients. Alma Zen has become very popular among locals and travelers, and we do hope you will enjoy it. The other remarkable places are Bircher Benner, established in 1972, focused in vegetarian and soy meat foods, and Govinda, a well-known restaurant run by the Hare Krishna.

Another good option for 100% vegetarian meals is Guru, which is in fact an Indian-Pakistani spot: not an entirely veggie place, but with many, many veggie dishes, so if you like this cuisine you may as well give it a try.


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El Vegetariano was founded by a group of experienced vegetarian chefs, who formerly worked at a similar place nearby. They pride in offering truly healthy and nutritive options, either as complete menus (general and special) or as a la carte dishes, plus salads, yogurts, fruits, etc. This place also sells natural, organic products and ingredients. Servings are generous and the staff understands some English: you will find a pleasant atmosphere, good service and very inexpensive prices. Keep in mind, however, that El Vegetariano closes around 8pm so you may need to have an early dinner. With a little luck you may find one of their best dishes: zucchini stuffed with tofu.

Local Expert tip: Daily menu costs only 8 soles (less than 3.00USD), and includes a big soup, a main course, a small dessert and a beverage (maybe a tea or a herbal-based infusion), Cash only. Open Hours: Monday to Saturday 9am-8pm, closed on Sundays.

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This is another haven for backpackers and travelers on a budget, since you can find excellent menus for lunch and dinner at ridiculous prices (from 6 to 8 soles for a three course meal: soup, a salad and a main course, including bread and an infusion or herbal tea. It is always crowded, and not only by tourists, since many locals are regulars here. It is located in Lima Downtoen, only one block and a half blocks from Plaza Mayor (Main Square). The staff does not speaks much English, but is very friendly and efficient. The place also has some flat TV screens tuned in some local channels.

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A great place, with top quality a la carte dishes but its buffet options (for breakfast, lunch, brunch and tea-time) have become famous, too, due to their large wide selection of salads, sandwiches, fruit juices and desserts. Other great attraction of this place is its location, up in the Miraflores cliffs (at Larcomar Shopping Center), looking at the sea, which provides a beautiful scenery both from the terrace and even from the inside. The menu covers international and Peruvian dishes; cocktails and beverages are also available. A la carte dishes are definitely pricey for local standards, but the buffets are quite as good, and both food and service are excellent.

Local Expert tip: Mangos is spacious and can host large group reservations and even some parties and events. Some tour operators bring tourists here, so you may ask yours if this is the case: the views from here are stunning, so don't forget your camera.

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Established a few years ago by a Cuban immigrant, this thematic bar has become a referent in Miraflores' nightlife; it also hosts some music events and temporary art and handicraft exhibitions. The owners pride in serving "the best traditional Cuban cocktails in Lima", so this is the perfect place in Lima to try a Mojito, a Cuba Libre or a Pina Colada; but the bar serves Peruvian drinks, too, that you can enjoy by the nine meters long bar. The menu at Caf� Bar Habana Cuban specialties, tapas and sandwiches and many dishes from Cuban cuisine: the music is also Cuban, and the art on the walls is mostly created by Cuban artists. Spending a night here will feel like a one-night trip to Cuba, while enjoying your friends' company. Veggie snacks and "tapas" available.

Local Expert tip: In case you prefer just enjoying a nice conversation with friends or with a date, you can also come here; just try arrive, so that it's not crowded yet (and you may also find some special offers). In any case, we suggest to try the Tostones, Montadito or Revoltillo for snacks.

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Cafe de la Paz


This is a lovely and cozy thematic place, inspired in the old French street cafes: "paz" in Spanish means "peace", so, the d�cor features many symbols of peace: it even has a white dove in their logo. You will see many famous quotes related to world peace in the decoration, stationery, table clothes, wall art, etc. Their wide menu offers many choices: sandwiches, desserts, veggie, French, Delicatessen, Mediterranean, International, as well as many coffee-based specialties and some pretty good wines. The desserts selection is really excellent, and we strongly suggest the Sauco Cheesecake, prepared with local exotic fruits, or the "Tres Leches" (a local dessert).

Local Expert tip: Service is good and friendly, and the menu includes translations of many dishes names, but most waiters do not speak English, so it may be a good idea to carry your pocket Spanish-English dictionary. If there's nice weather (e.g. if it is not drizzling) you will undoubtledly enjoy more if choosing a table outside.

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With some more than 15 years operating in Peru, News Cafe is a thematic place that recreates the world of newspaper press and journalism; the format has been so successful that currently it has four branches in Lima and one in Arequipa. The atmosphere is welcoming and invites to stay reading some of the magazines and newspaper they always have, or working with your laptop since they have free wi-fi. The menus include a large selection of salads, sandwiches, desserts, beverages and drinks. The service is excellent, there are facilities intended for handicapped customer and most of the staff speaks decent English.

Local Expert tip: Try the Thai Salad, which is excellent, or the Fish with Artichoke Sauce. For desserts, the choice is more difficult, but you may want to indulge yourself with any chocolate-based one. As for credit cards, News Cafe accepts almost all of them.

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This restaurant and caf� has a motto: "Peruvian Vegetarian Food", that can give you a pretty good idea about what to expect. Specialized in Lacto-ovo-vegetarian, Sabor y Vida opens very early so you can start your day with a truly vegetarian breakfast: lunches usually offer three choices for appetizers and for main courses as well, so you may have a complete lunch for less than 10 soles (less that $4) including a fruit-based dessert, complimentary bread and a drink. But you may want to explore some a la carte options, like the Chinese rice or the Veggie Ceviche, and of course, don't forget to ask for the the fruit juices.

Local Expert tip: Another advantage of this place is that there are always some dishes on display, so you can have a better idea about what you are ordering... or just order your meal by pointing at your dish of choice in case you don't speak Spanish.

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Established in 1972, this restaurant located in Miraflores is one of the first veggie restaurants in Lima and focuses on lacto-ovo-vegetarian meals; it has built a good reputation and is surviving a though competition. The place has moved several times during the last few years, to end up currently in Larco Avenue, a location more convenient for everyone. In addition to their menus, they also sell natural products on the go, soy meats and probiotic yogurts. Bircher Benner's menus offer both Peruvian classic recipes reinvented into veggie cuisine, and international vegetarian dishes, too. Their desserts are great, especially those based in integral ingredients and dairy preparations.

Local Expert tip: If you want to continue having veggie meals at home, you will find this restaurant is a good place, since they sell many kinds of soy meat, several naturist products and sometimes even some recipe books that you may find useful.

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Guru
Photo courtesy of Isabel Guerra


Guru Kebab & Curry is a place focused in Indian and Pakistani food, and has already gathered a close-knit community of fans that meet here often. The owners, Pakistani-born Waheed Ashraf and his Peruvian wife Katia, claim to use traditional recipes and spices 100% imported from India; even the breads and yogurs are hand-made here. Despite not being exactly a vegetarian restaurant, the menu in fact offers plenty of choices to have a complete, satisfactory vegetarian meal. Since the place has become popular and tends to be crowded, it would be wise to book a table in advance, via their webpage or by telephone. Delivery is available if your hotel is nearby.

Local Expert tip: Waheed and Katia are terrific hosts, and will not only provide the food, but also will give you a warm welcome. In addition, the service is very polite, discreet and efficient, and will help you to choose the best meals for you.

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Alma Zen is a restaurant that claims to serve not only vegetarian meals, but also made with 100% organic ingredients, bought from certified organic producers and from farms affiliated to fair trade programs. Thus, the quality of the foods they serve is definitely more than excellent; but this also takes its toll on the prices, that are definitely high according to local standards. However, most guests leave the place truly satisfied and saying that everything was great and that it was well worth: the flavors are truly delicious. In addition to serving foods for the soul, Alma Zen also has options for tea time, for coffee lovers, and a home-like atmosphere, since it�s a pretty small place with only four tables.

Local Expert tip: The owners are very friendly and will be more than happy to explain you anything you may want to know about the food they serve, and about their business' philosophy. If you are a true vegan, this is your place.

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Meet 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...  More About Isabel

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