Cuzco's restaurant scene caters for a wide range of tastes and budgets, thanks to its international appeal. Due to its location, Cuzco has access to diverse crops from highland potatoes and quinoa to avocados, jungle fruit and ají picante (hot chiles).
Avenida El Sol & Downhill
Pampa de Castillo is the street near Qorikancha where local workers lunch on Cuzco classics. Expect lots of caldo de gallina (chicken soup) and chicharrón (deep-fried pork) with corn, mint and, of course, potato, in a range of restaurants.
Most popular local restaurants are outside the historic center and focus on lunch; few open for dinner. Don’t expect to encounter any language other than Spanish in these places, but the food is worth the effort!
Andean cuisine is getting a boost. With the arrival in Moray of world-renowned chef Virgilio Martínez and his restaurant and food laboratory MIL in Moray, the great diversity of potatoes and other regional produce is being brought from the rural table to mainstream menus. But you don't have to shell out for haute cuisine. Other places, like Ollantaytambo and Cuzco, have taken note and are similarly returning to old roots.
Sunday lunch with a country stroll is a Cuzco ritual. Locals head to the villages south of town: Tipón is the place to eat cuy (guinea pig), Saylla is the home of chicharrón (deep-fried pork) and Lucre is renowned for duck.
Look for the following foods in local restaurants, on the street and at festivals:
Anticucho Beef heart on a stick, punctuated by a potato, is the perfect evening street snack.
Caldo de gallina Healthy, hearty chicken soup is the local favorite to kick a hangover.
Cañazo Rustic bootleg versions of this potent sugarcane alcohol have long been the life of the village party. New distillery Caña Alta in Ollantaytambo produces a high-quality artisan version to make exquisite cocktails.
Chicharrónes Definitely more than the sum of its parts: deep-fried pork served with corn, mint leaves, fried potato and onion.
Choclo con queso Huge, pale cobs of corn are served with a teeth-squeaking chunk of cheese in the Sacred Valley.
Cuy Guinea pig, raised on grains at home – what could be more organic? The faint of heart can ask for it served as a fillet (without the head and paws).
Grilled alpaca Lean and flavorful, this tender, high-protein meat has gone mainstream in upscale restaurants.
Lechón Suckling pig with plenty of crackling, served with tamales (corn cakes).