There’s a reason why Peru was named the World’s Leading Culinary Travel Destination in 2012 and 2013 by the World Travel Awards. The following are the must eats in Peru. Can we say, “May we have more please!”
Ceviche and Seafood: Hands down, eating ceviche was the most tasty and memorable dish we sampled in Peru. The fish is freshly marinated unlike our own recipe where we stew it in citrus juice for hours or overnight. Here it was made to order. We loved it. In fact, Teo ate it too, surprisingly, as she is not a raw fish eater. Our first Peruvian ceviche came from a small ceivicheria a few blocks from Plaza de Armas. The fish is slices of corvina garnished with fresh cooked corn, dried corn and seaweed. The best part is slurping up the juice, a lemony citrus broth with bold, fishy undertones. Read more about Peruvian ceviche here.
The best ceviche came from La Mar in Lima, in fact our favorite meals came from this restaurant. Note this restaurant is open for lunch only, meaning 11-3ish, though we did stay til 5pm on one occasion. We were fortunate to dine here twice. Our first meal we ordered a marinated clam dish served on scallop shells. The clam meat was perfect texture, the flavor was citrus and onion and absolutely tangy. The ceviche came out in a tomato pepper marinade and was to die for. Having eyes bigger than our stomachs, we decided to try a deep fried whole fish, done perfectly. Amazingly, we did eat everything!
Cuy: This is the little rodent we call guinea pig, in parts of South America including Peru it may be what’s for dinner. We’re not exactly sure how this little fellow was cooked but the skin was slightly crispy. The only way to devour one of these critters is with your hands. Most of the meat is in the leg/thigh portions. The meat was dark and juicy and yes it was a little bit like chicken. The sauce on the side was chimichuri, however we preferred the meat without sauce.
Lomo Saltado: Chinese anyone? Chifa is the local word for Chinese food, a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese cuisine. Our first meal in Peru was a Chifa. We tried a version of lomo saltado, large slabs of fish sautéed in a shoyu style sauce, served on lightly grilled onions and surprise, topped w/ fries. The fish was delicate and tasty with the sauce. The fries absorb the gravy and combined w/ the crunch of the grilled onion, very enjoyable. We ordered a side of white rice doubling our carb intake.
Anticuchos: From our understanding, this means meat grilled on a stick. There is one place that is famous for its grilled beef hearts, and if you are in Lima, you must visit Grimanes Vargas Anticuchos. A former street vendor turned restaurant, this place serves up some amazing grub. Basically there is one thing on the menu, grilled cow heart served with a side of potatoes and Peurvian corn (choclo). There is no alcohol served here so enjoy with Inka Cola. The meat is served on the rare side, practically still mooing when it comes to you. There are no tables here, just a couple of long counters. BTW its served w/ 2 sauces, the red does have a little kick that is delayed, surprising as not much food in Peru has spice. This was not a hard place to find, merely opposite restaurant La Mar and down a few doors.
Causa: As the Andes Mountains are the birthplace of potatoes, this tuber is a staple of Peruvian diet. The causa we ate was a fluffy mash of potatoes layered with grilled octopus and drizzled with a special sauce. The featured photo is from Pescado Capitanes in Lima. This dish is often layered with avocado and any combination of meat, seafood or egg.
Pollo a la Brasa: Rotisserie chicken, served with fries, chicken soup complete with feet and all you can eat salad bar. This was a regular lunch staple in Cusco. At Cusco’s Mercado Central there are food stalls specializing in chicken soup and others with rice plates.
Inka Cola: What can be said about the national soft drink. Its fruity and sweet flavor is like bubble gum in a bottle.
Cusquena: The first beer we tasted from Peru. The color is light gold, however there was very little head. We found the flavor to be quite sweet, nevertheless enjoyable. No bitterness or hop flavor that we could detect. This beer hails from Cusco region. We rate this beer as average, definitely drinkable.
Pilsen Callou: a crisp, local pilsner that became my mainstay beverage. Not heavy, not bitter, not sweet, just, well just perfect.
Chicha Morada: Purple corn drink. This refreshing non-alcoholic beverage has the color of a cabernet yet it tastes like lightly sweetened purple Kool-Aid. The purple corn is boiled with fruit and spices like clove and cinnamon until the purple color comes out. There is another type of chicha that is fermented, therefore alcoholic and sold on street corners in Cusco and even on the Inca trail. We did not brave sampling the homemade concoctions, mostly due to the way it is sold. The same cup is dipped into the larger bucket and given to the customer who downs it in one or two gulps. Repeat. Need we say more.
Pisco Sour: This is the national drink of Peru made with Pisco, a liquor distilled from grapes. The basic recipe is pisco, lime juice, syrup and egg whites then shake. The result is a delicious citrusy beverage with a little foamy head made by the egg whites. If in Cusco, try the Museo de Pisco a bar and restaurant who will for an extra dollar, teach you to make your own at the bar.
Chicharrón: This is amazing!!! This isn’t your ordinary sandwich. Pork sandwich with tasty Peruvian-style fillings include lechon (suckling pig), jamon del pais (ham with salsa criolla) and chorizo sausage. Unfortunately, we came to La Lucha Sangucheria Criolla in Kennedy Park on our last night in Lima, we only had it once. But it is something worth returning for…..guaranteed!!!