Perú has a wonderful abundance of local ingredients that are put together in a different way in the many regions of the country. The food is unique from Lima to the North Coast to the Amazon.
In Lima, you can get the best of all the regions and try the ultimate Peruvian foods. The best restaurants are centred in the capitol and street food is a great way to experience the culture.
True food lovers should not miss the annual Mistura Food Festival. It is the largest food event in Peru, and perhaps in all of Latin America. It is usually held in September.
- Ceviche: Seafood cured with citrus juice and spiced with peppers, onions, salt, and cilantro. Popular in many places, ceviche is the national dish of Peru.
- Aguadito de Pollo: Spicy chicken soup with cilantro, potatoes (papas amarillas), yellow pepper (aji amarillo), onions, peas, corn and rice.
- Tiradito: Raw fish, cut like Japanese sashimi in a spicy sauce. This dish is heavily influenced by Japanese immigrants.
- Chupe de Camarones: A dish from Arequipa, this is a spicy shrimp chowder from the coast.
- Sopa de Quinua: Quinoa Soup is a soothing dish typical of the Peruvian Andes. Ingredients can vary greatly, but generally include quinoa, cheese, and potatoes.
- Papa Rellena: Traditional croquette filled with spicy ground beef.
- Pollo a la Brasa: A widely popular dish where the chicken is seasoned simply with salt and cooked in charcoal. It is sometimes known as Peruvian chicken.
- Salchipapas: One of the most popular street foods in Perú. It is made of salchicha (sausage) thinly sliced and mixed together with French fries and sauce.
- Carapulca / Carapulcra (Kalapurka): Traditional stew of pork or chicken, dried potatoes, onions, Peruvian chilies (aji), cumin, cilantro, cloves and peanuts.
- Arroz con Pollo / Arroz con Camarones: Rice with chicken or seafood, similar to Spanish paella with Asian influences.
Restaurants in Lima
The restaurants of Lima offer a wealth of eating from delicious street food for a pittance, to elegant five-star hotel dining. Look out for informal ceviche and chicken shops, fresh food at the markets, huariques (casual restaurants) and chifas (Chinese restaurants).
To discover more of the best restaurants in Peru, refer to Summum, Peru's equivalent of the Michelin guide.
Best restaurants in Lima:
- Central Restaurante:Ranked #1 in the World's 50 Best Latin America awards and #4 on the World's list, Lima's top restaurant is a must for food lovers with one of the most unique and thrilling menus not just in the region, but in the whole world.
- Malabar: This restaurant has always ranked among the top five in Summum. Influenced by Amazonian products and cooking techniques, its seasonal menu features delicacies such as Amazonian river snails in a sauce made with spicy chorizo.
- Maido: Maido features inventive flavour combinations with a base in Asian home-style cooking. The menu ranges from Peruvian specialties to Japanese sushi to ramen.
- Cordano: Known as the President's cafe, this restaurant is on the list of not-to-miss spots in South America. Its old-world dining hall has served almost every Peruvian president for the last 100 years and it is considered a historic monument by the National Institute of Culture.
- Restaurante Sonia: Near the malecón (esplanade) above the Chorrillos fish market, Sonia is a classic Lima cebicheria.
- La Lucha Sanguchería:Probably the best chicharrón sandwich with camote (sweet potato), paired with fresh pineapple juice and papas (potatoes).
- El Pan de la Chola:Some of the best bread in Lima.
- Astrid y Gastón: The signature restaurant of Gastón Acurio, Perú's celebrity chef and creator of a empire of fine-dining restaurants throughout North and South America.
Perú is well recognized for its potato and corn varieties. But it is also home to other delicious vegetables, such as avocado and tomato? Most of them have been cultivated and consumed since ancient times and are an important part of the traditional Peruvian cuisine.
That said, Peru is still not known for its vegetarian dining. Peruvians may not understand what you mean by vegetariano food. Double check ingredients listed on the menu and be aware meat-based broths are common.
Lima's Best Vegetarian restaurants:
- El AlmaZen: Steps from Miraflores, this is a well-known – if a bit pricey – place to enjoy vegetarian dining.
- Afinidad Maravillosa - Pueblo Libre: Vegetarian restaurant of Asian cuisine with buffet style, located on the Avenida Brasil. Also has an à la carte menu. Each portion (rice with vegetables, fried noodles, beans, etc.) from the buffet costs 2 soles, with an optional special combo with 4 portions and a beverage for 7 soles. Knowledgeable about veganism and has plenty of vegan choices. A small retail shop carries biscuits, noodles and more.
- Raw Café Club: Following the philosophy of raw vegan cuisine, the chefs serve whimsical, super-healthy dishes. One of their most popular offerings is ‘alive pizza' with the dough made of grains. Don't leave without ordering a raw dessert.
- Las Vecinas: Groovy restaurant in the heart of Barranco. They offer simple, organic meals in a laid-back atmosphere. Order their famous quinoa burger and enjoy the leafy backyard.
Tipping in Peru
Peruvians do not usually tip in Peru. In a midrange establishment, you might round up a few soles for good service, but it's not necessary. In upscale restaurants, a 10% tip is customary and a service charge may be included in the bill.
Drinks in Perú
From coffee to fine wines, Perú produces some excellent drinks to pair with its food culture.
Non-Alcoholic Drinks in Perú
Tap water is NOT safe for drinking in Peru.
- Peruvian Lemonade: The Peruvian version of lemonade is made of water, small Peruvian limes and a little bit of brown sugar.
- Chicha Morada: Prepared from a base of purple maize, known as maiz morado, you can buy a bottle in every supermarket. It is made by boiling the maize with chunks of pineapple, quinces, cinnamon and cloves and is an alluring deep purple color.
- Emoliente (Herbal Infusion): This is an herbal tea popular during the cold winter month.
- Inca Kola: Inca Kola is called "El sabor del Perú" (The flavor of Perú). Created in 1935, it is a bright yellow, sweet soft drink.
Alcoholic Drinks in Perú
- Pisco (Aguardiente de Pisco): Perú's national drink. It is distilled from grapes grown in the Ica region (south of the capital Lima). The most popular cocktail made from Pisco is Pisco Sour, a delicious combination of Pisco, lime juice, egg white and syrup.
- Peruvian Chilcano (Chilcanito): The Chilcano (or also known as Chilanito) is a traditional Peruvian cocktail also based on Pisco.
- Chicha de Jora: Chicha de Jora is an alcoholic beverage from the Andes region, which was prepared by the Incas. Chicha is traditionally obtained by the fermentation of specific maize, the jora. It is beer-like, pale yellow and has a slightly sour taste.
Liquor Laws in Perú
In Perú, Law 28681 dictates that no one can purchase alcohol if they are under the age of 18. In reality, the average local store is unlikely to ask for ID. Nightclubs are more likely to ask for ID, especially in Perú's larger cities, as Lima.
Drinking laws are specially enacted during regional and national elections, known as Ley Seca ("Dry Law"). There is a complete prohibition kicks for 48 hours before any votes are cast. Alcohol is not sold or consumed in public spaces and travellers are not exempt from the law.
When driving, note that you must have no more than 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. This means that even one drink can take you over the limit so it's best not to drink and drive.
Cafes & Pubs in Lima
Perú's cuisine is internationally renowned, but it's also at the vanguard of the coffee movement. When most people think of gourmet coffee in South America, heavyweight producers like Colombia and Brazil typically come to mind. But visitors to Perú need not be discouraged—the country is actually a huge coffee producer in its own right, and it's becoming known for some serious organic and specialty coffees. Coffee beans are collected in Perú's fertile coffee regions and find their way to local artisans.
Best Cafes & Bars in Lima:
Arabica Espresso Bar: This is a little oasis of calm and peace in the seaside Miraflores neighbourhood. There is a super friendly staff and culinary treats, like quiches and desserts.
Buena Vista Café: Located on Lima's waterfront malecón in Miraflores, you'll indeed incredible views of the Pacific Ocean and a range of Italian coffees.
Gran Hotel Bolivar : Famous for its legendary clientele of Ernest Hemingway and Walt Disney, visitors today can enjoy the Pisco Cathedral cocktail.
La Mora Pastelería & Café: Offers a superb coffee menu as well as desserts.
Tostaduría Bisetti: Roasts beans the traditional Italian way.
La Bodega Verde (The Green Winery): Provides the atmosphere of an open-air bistro in France. They offer fine coffees as well as cocktails.