Many travelers come to Lima to feast and feast well. The city is South America’s food capital after all. Unique produce from varying ecosystems and some of the most popular plant-based superfoods in the global market make their way to Peru’s capital city, offering a bevy of options for vegans, vegetarians and all the in-betweens.

For the best of the best, tour two neighboring districts, Miraflores and Barranco, to taste what Mother Nature has been cooking. While the former is abuzz with tourists, the latter is known as the local hippie hangout. So throw up a peace sign and devour this community of green cafes and restaurants.

Dessert comes first

Don’t go chasing waterfalls – it’s a cascading scoop of vegan ice cream served atop almond and chocolate cookie crumbles, and drizzled with bitter chocolate fudge. Continue your clean-eating streak and skip the refined sugar rush by opting of the many vegan, gluten-free desserts at Armónica Café. While this low-key restaurant offers and extensive menu for all diets (from chia and quinoa burgers to organic chicken wraps), the real cherry on top are the desserts. Eating healthy never looked so indulgent.

A vegan ice cream sunday at Armonica in Lima Peru
A cascade of vegan ice cream to liven soothe the clean-eater sweet tooth © Agnes Rivera/Lonely Planet

Alternative take on the classics

Follow the brick wall inside this comforting and homey space that proves going meat-free won’t leave you starved. Much like the classic, hole-in-the-wall eateries that fill neighborhood streets throughout Peru, Germinando Vida offers a complete daily menu (appetizer, entrée, drink and dessert) that puts a plant-based spin on classic Peruvian dishes. Enjoy a sweet and spicy mango ceviche followed by a pillowy papa rellena stuffed with a rainbow of seasonal vegetables as you gaze at the retro décor of record players, analog clocks and hanging plants.

Just roll with it

How many California rolls does it take before realizing that your pescatarian and meat-eating friends are enjoying a night out for makis far more than you are? Nikkei, a fusion between Japanese and Peruvian food, is a match made in culinary heaven, and Seitan Urban Bistro ups the flavor ante by throwing in their own twist. Weekly events called Vegan Nights are dedicated to the rice rolls, filled with tofu, veggies, and topped with an array of sauces. Need a daytime go-to? The bistro also serves up creative, plant-based lunches throughout the work week.

Seitan Urban Bistro in Lima, Peru
Vegan nights at Seitan Urban Bistro are the perfect mash-up of Japanese and Peruvian plant-based flavors © Agnes Rivera/Lonely Planet

Garden of eatin’

With colorful murals inside and out, decorated with artisan crafts, and a bookshelf that allows guests to take and donate their favorite paperbacks, El Jardin de Jazmín truly embodies an alternative lifestyle. While the vegan restobar often hosts cultural events (from astrology lectures to henna tattoo fests) plates such as the canasta feliz are what turn newcomers into regulars. The infamous Happy Meal gets plant-friendly with black bean nuggets topped with guacamole and served with a side of potatoes with fine herbs. A sure way to put a smile on your face, no clown necessary.

The Milky Way

What’s cooler than being cool? Try an iced latte with a generous splash of hazelnut rice milk. Cozy like your favorite childhood nook, Shakti Kafe makes up for what they lack in space with the impressive variety of homemade non-dairy milks. Hot or cold, these caffeinated beverages are brewed with beans from the German-settled town of Oxapampa, located in Peru’s lush high jungle. They’re the perfect pairing to vegan desserts such as dark chocolate cake or a slice of apple crumble. If you’re not ordering to go, cross your fingers that you can get a seat inside facing the vertical garden or out front in the narrow passageway lined with mesmerizing black and white tile.

Shakti Kafe in Lima Peru has an impressive variety of non-dairy milks
With a variety of homemade dairy-free milks every latte is exactly what every vegan caffeine addict needs after a morning exploring Lima © Agnes Rivera/Lonely Planet

Everyone’s café

Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name. Las Vecinas (literally translated as ‘neighbors) is one of the few places in Peru’s capital that truly embodies that neighborhood feel. A colonial house renovated into an enchanting café and food shop, the laidback space offers comforting and nourishing plates that put the spotlight on local dairy producers and farmers. Enjoy a romantic night (date optional) with a grilled cheese dolled up with Jamaica (hibiscus) marmalade or pesto, paired with artisanal beer or a glass of organic wine.

Half-baked? Not even

Catch wind of the words ‘raw’ and ‘Peru’ in the same sentence and you’d be safe to assume that the speaker is referring to the national seafood dish, ceviche. A local eater however will instantly think of Lima’s local and alternative Raw Café. What began as an underground favorite for plant-based eaters has since blossomed into an equally hip spot for those who simply want a crust of nuts, linseed and sun dried tomatoes (dehydrated for 18 hours), and to quench their thirst with a glass of house kombucha, the zingy fermented brew.

Raw food and house kombucha at Raw Cafe in Lima Peru
Try a house kombucha at Raw Cafe © Agnes Rivera

Expect the unexpected

If the term “bio-factoria” reminds you of a Willy Wonka-esque workshop, you wouldn’t be far off. The couple that own La Verde Biofacteria are seasoned in offering plant-based goodies; in fact, many say they were the first to market such food in Lima. Though display cases of desserts and breads are faithfully stocked day after day, the daily specials dare you to try unpredictable dishes, made available based on whatever has been delivered that day by local farmers and providers. Don’t like surprises? You can always count on their famous falafel.

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