The gastronomic capital of the continent, Lima is where you will find some of the country’s most sublime culinary creations: from simple cevicherías (ceviche counters) and corner anticucho (beef-heart skewer) stands to outstanding molecular cuisine. Lima’s prime position on the coast gives it access to a wide variety of staggeringly fresh seafood, while its status as a centralized capital assures the presence of all manner of regional specialties.
You’ll find cocktails infused with Amazon berries, nutty chicken stews from Arequipa (ají de gallina) and one of the country’s most exquisite renderings (outside of Chiclayo) of Chiclayo-style arroz con pato (rice and duck), slowly simmered in cilantro, garlic and beer. The city has such a vast assortment of cuisine, in fact, that it’s possible to spend weeks here without tasting it all. Pack your appetite; you’ll need it.
A La Limeña
Many restaurants in Lima tone down the spices on some traditional dishes for foreign travelers. If you like your cooking spicy (picante), tell them to turn up the heat by asking for your food a la limeña – Lima-style.
Want to eat like a local? When eating in homes, local fondas or quintas (informal family restaurants) you can ask for a generous portion by ordering it ‘bien taipa.’ If you want seconds, say ‘yapa!’ – it roughly translates as ‘more, please.’
Seafood at La Punta
A quiet residential neighborhood with great views of the water, La Punta is perfect for a leisurely lunch. At the humble fish house Manolo seafood die-hards line up for fresh ceviche, grilled fish and hearty soups. Or dine in style at the waterfront La Rana Verde, ideal for Sunday dinner within view of the Isla San Lorenzo. Dishes are all deftly prepared and the pulpo al olivo is one of the best in Lima. It’s located on the pier inside the Club Universitario de Regatas. A taxi ride from Miraflores runs at around S30.
Miraflores and San Isidro may have the city’s trendiest restaurants, but Lima’s downtown spots offer cheap deals and history, from functional comedores (simple dining rooms) packed with office workers to atmospheric eateries that count Peruvian presidents among the clientele. Menús (set meals) in the vicinity of S10 can be found at many of the cheaper restaurants.
Chic dining rooms, frothy cocktails and fusion haute cuisine: San Isidro is a bastion of fine dining – and not much else. Those on a budget may prefer to prepare their own meals, or head to nearby Miraflores, which is generally cheaper.
By far the most varied neighborhood for eating, Miraflores carries the breadth and depth of Peruvian cooking at every price range imaginable, from tiny comedores with cheap lunchtime menús to some of the city’s most revered gastronomic outposts. Pavement cafes are ideal for sipping pisco sours and people-watching.
Casual places with cheap menús abound on the tiny streets east of Av José Larco just off the Parque Kennedy.
On Saturdays, a small green market sets up at Parque Reducto, off Alfredo Benavides and Ribeyro. Likewise, try the neighborhood’s excellent supermarkets.
Even as Barranco has gone upscale in recent years, with trendy restaurants serving everything fusion, the neighborhood still holds on to atmospheric, local spots where life is no more complicated than ceviche and beer.
A number of informal restaurants serving anticuchos and cheap menús line Av Grau around the intersection with Unión.