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Look very carefully at this map. This is the heart of historic and colonial Lima, and within these 56 square blocks, known as el damero de Pizarro, or Pizarro's chessboard (after the Spanish founder of the city) are located some excellent places to eat, especially for lunch. Since a trip to the colonial heart of Lima is obligatory for every visitor, why not get a sense of what some of the food options are?
This is my own list of personal favorites in the damero de Pizarro.
As you can see, there are two main plazas in this part of Lima: Plaza San Martin, and the Plaza Mayor (which used to be called the Plaza de Armas, and many people still refer to it as such). Connecting these two plazas is the pedestrian-only Jirón de la Union, or simply el Jirón, as it is known in this area.
PLEASE NOTE: Jirón de la Unión is a dividing line -- streets that cross el Jirón change names. If you look carefully at the map, you will see that to the right of Jirón de la Unión a street has one name, but to the left, it has a different one.
The word jirón is an antiquated Spanish term for street that is only used in Lima.
While there are a lot of pollos a la brasa, roast chicken restaurants, there are also some other very good restaurants that are not too expensive and offer far better quality than many of the places you may see.
This virtual tour starts off from Plaza San Martin heading to the Plaza Mayor along Jirón de la Unión. After three blocks we reach the intersection of Jirón Huancavelica (on the map, the name appears on the upper left), which is also Jirón Miró Quesada. We turn left onto Jirón Huancavelica.
In that block, before reaching Jirón Camaná, are two excellent Peruvian restaurants.
El Mesón del Almirante
Jirón Huancavelica 151, between
Jirón de la UniÃ³n and Jirón Camaná
One is El Mesón del Almirante, or The Admiral's Tavern, because it is directly across the street from the house of a famous Peruvian admiral, now a museum called the Casa Museo Miguel Grau. This restaurant has been one of my long-time favorites in central Lima, and over the years I have been going, the food has been consistently very good.
They feature a wide assortment of Peruvian dishes in the style known as criollo, which is traditional of Lima and the coast. They always have good deals for lunch. I've spoken with the owner who is very much comitted to preserving the culinary traditions of traditional Lima cuisine. She told me her desire was to continue in the tradition of the long-gone but very famous Peruvian restaurant Rosita Ríos. However, in doing research for this blog, I discovered the restaurant was up for sale, I don't know if it sold, and if the new owners can maintain her high standards of cuisine, but I will check it out the next time I am in Lima.
Right next door, is another excellent central Lima restaurant.
El Fayke Piurano
Jirón Huancavelica 165, between
Jirón de la Unión and Jirón Camaná
El Fayke Piurano is not a hole-in-the-wall but it is not very fancy either. However, they serve excellent seafood dishes in the style of the northern region of Piura, which is a vast desert facing an ocean with abundant sea life. The word fayke refers to a tree common to Piura.
In general, Peruvians do like some spicy dishes, but usually they prefer to add hot sauce to dishes that are not too spicy. There are not that many Peruvian dishes that are already spicy. The two exceptions that come to mind are the cuisine of Arequipa and the cuisine of Piura. Generous use of Peruvian ají and the infamous rocoto kicks up the taste a few notches at El Fayke Piurano, so if you can't handle the heat, let them know "no ají" or "no muy picante".
I love their choros a la chalaca, which are large mussels topped with chopped onions, tomatoes and ajÃí. Also quite good is the parihuela, which is a large seafood stew. They make great ceviche, and their arroz de mariscos is rice laden with all sorts of seafood. Prices are very reasonable.
From the Jirón de la Unión, instead of turning left onto Jirón Huancavelica, we turn right onto Jirón Miró Quesada, and we come to a very unique establishment that seems oddly out of place in central Lima.
Manhattan Café Restaurant
Miró Quesada 253,
between Jirón Lampa and Jirón Azángaro
The Manhattan is where the suits from the nearby Government Ministries and bank headquarters go for lunch and cocktails. Very dark and clubby inside, the food is quite good but pricey. They specialize in both Peruvian and international cuisine. The waiters know their craft very well. There is a full bar. Being inside the Manhattan is like being in a quiet oasis away from the hubbub that is central Lima. The Manhattan is only open for lunch weekdays.
If we head down Jirón de la Unión or Jirón Carabaya one block closer to the Plaza de Armas, we reach Jirón Ucayali, where there is a very historic restaurant and bar.
Jirón Ucayali 201,
corner of Jirón Carabaya
The Hotel Maury is a historical hotel in central Lima that offers three restaurant options. But more importantly, the famous pisco sour is claimed to have been invented in the Bar Maury. At the least, a visit to the Bar Maury is in order while in central Lima. The bar is located through the main entry to the left and features an abstract mural of historic Lima.
Across the hotel lobby from the Bar Maury is the elegant Salón de los Espejos. This refined restaurant is decorated with ornate mirrors and offers good lunches, which are not very expensive. Outside, on Ucayali going away from el Jirón, are two less expensive options that belong to the Hotel Maury. One is the Maury Chifa, a Chinese restaurant, and the other is the Maury Express, which offers Peruvian food.
Further along Jirón Ucayali is another good restaurant.
Jirón Ucayali 370,
between Jirón Lampa and
L'Eau Vive is a restaurant run by an order of nuns as a charity. There are other branches in different cities worldwide. The restaurant is housed in a colonial home, so it has great atmosphere, and the good sisters offer good food at reasonable prices. The sisters are a multicultural lot -- the last time I was there my server was a nun from Gabon.
If you are in the mood for Chinese food, you can simply continue along Jirón Ucayali for another three blocks, across busy Avenida Abancay and past the Mercado Central, or Central Market, to the 700 block of Jirón Ucayali, which is also known as Calle Capón and is the heart of Lima's Chinatown. There are a number of places to eat there, which merit their own entry. Please exercise caution in this very crowded and busy part of the city.
At last, Jirón de la Unión reaches the Plaza Mayor. The intersecting street is Jirón Callao to the left, and Jirón Huallaga to the right. At the corner of el Jirón and Callao is another good eatery if you are in the mood for a hamburger, Peruvian style.
Jirón de la Unión, corner of Jirón Callao
Bembos is a a popular Peruvian hamburger chain, and the company prides itself on the quality and consistency of its food. There are many different types of burgers to be had, complete with all types of tasty sauces. If you are feeling like an economical burger meal, this is the place for you.
Continuing along the side of the Plaza Mayor on Jirón de la Unión, directly across the street from the Cathedral is another pedestrian-only street called Pasaje Santa Rosa. Turn left and just a block away is another good inexpensive dining option.
Pasaje Santa Rosa 153
In a country full of pollos a la brasa, roast chicken restaurants, Pardo's Chicken is the premiere Peruvian chain. The quality of the food at Pardo's Chicken is much better than at other similar establishments. Aside from chicken, they also serve steak, grilled meats, and salads.
There are two more stops in this virtual gastronomic tour of central Lima. To reach them we cross the Plaza Mayor, and at the Cathedral, turn left on Jirón Carabaya, and head along the side of the Presidential Palace. Where Jirón Carabaya dead ends at Jirón Ancash, is one of the most traditional locales in Lima.
Jirón Ancash 202,
corner of JirÃ³n Carabaya
The Bar Cordano has been a fixture in central Lima life for over a hundred years. Although it no longers sees the same amount of clientele as in its heyday, it still remains an institution. Some claim that the pisco sour was actually invented at the Bar Cordano and not at the Hotel Maury. The Bar Cordano is a good place to pop in for a refreshment as you wander between museums and monuments. Inside, the atmosphere feels as if time has stood still.
Sadly, I have heard conflicting reports that Bar Cordano had been closed down in recent months and the building demolished due to its age and general condition. I am still working on confirming this information; if anyone knows, please leave a message. If true, it will be a loss for central Lima, since Bar Cordano is an inimitable and timeless establishment.
Finally, our last stop on the tour is reached by heading along Jirón Ancash, away from the Presidential Palace, until we reach Jirón Lampa, where the Plaza and Church of San Francisco are located. At Jirón Lampa, turn left and walk to the end of the block, to the entrance of the newest park in central Lima, and our last stop.
Restaurante La Muralla
Jirón Lampa, first block, overlooking the Parque de la Muralla
The Restaurante La Muralla is the latest addition to fine dining in central Lima. Opened by famed local restaurateur Michael Alarcón, the locale overlooks the very pretty and new Parque de la Muralla, where you can see the remains of the walls that used to surround Lima. Since its opening, Restaurante La Muralla has received very reviews.
Chef Miguel Hueytia offers culinary creations like Cebiche La Muralla, traditional anticuchos, and a wide variety of meat and seafood dishes.
Here in the US, where I live, all Peruvian restaurants I've been to serve a green hot sauce. In Peru itself, there are a variety of other sauces that are served on the side, and the green one is just one of many. However, it is easy to make in the US because the recipe has been adapted to use ingredients easily found here. Please note that jalapeños and serrano chiles are not used in Peru, but they are easy to get in the US and a good substitute.
If you've eaten at a restaurant outisde of Peru, and want to know how to make that green hot sauce, here's the recipe:
The sauce is made of cilantro, jalapeños, salt, oil, and garlic. You need a blender.
Get a half cup of oil, can be olive, canola, whatever you use.
Take about two bunches of very fresh cilantro, and take the leaves off the stems.
Quarter about 3 jalapeños (you can add more or less, leave the veins in or devein)
Chop a garlic clove in half (again, it depends on your taste, you can add more or less)
Put cilantro leaves, jalapeños, garlic, about a 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a little bit of the oil in a blender and pulse. As you pulse, add the rest of the oil until well blended but not runny. You may need to experiment to get the exact amount of heat and consistency you prefer.
This is the easiest way to make that ubiquitous green Peruvian hot sauce.
It isn't exactly the way you get it in Peru, but it's good and people love it!
Anticuchos are like little bits of meaty heaven when you bite into them, carefully cured and spiced overnight before they hit the grill. They are eaten with cold boiled potato, the perfect foil for the spicy ají you can add.
In Peru, chifa refers to a Chinese restaurant.Note: Since this posting is from a news article written in January 2006, some prices and locations may have changed. Please call ahead.
There was substantial Chinese immigration to Peru in the late-1880s (just like to the West Coast of the USA). One of the great Chinese legacies to Peru is its influence in Peruvian cuisine, particularly along the coast, as well as the prevalence in Peruvian life of the chifa. They exist in all cities, and in Lima, there is even a long-standing Chinatown, centered around Calle Capón, near the Mercado Central, Central Market.
Here's a list of chifas, that appeared in El Comercio, the main Lima daily, in January, 2006. This link takes you to the original Spanish-language article.
Curiously, the list leaves off Wa Lok, with branches in Chinatown and Miraflores, considered by many to be one of the most traditional in the city. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of chifas in Peru, many in Lima. These are just the El Comercio reporter's favorites.In Lima's ChinatownSan Joy Lao
Jirón Ucayali 779
Daily, 11:00 a.m. to 11 p.m.
426-2918, 426-7799During the current summer, there is a summer banquet for 25 soles per person, which includes prawns in apricot sauce, mushroom or fried-chicken ceviche, chi jau cuy (in both salty or sweet options, and yes cuy IS guinea pig!), Peking duck, Oriental salad with tun ku and seaweed, and special mixed fried rice. The cost includes a Chinese chirimoya cocktail or soda. There is also the regular buffet with over 200 different dishes from which to choose.Salón Capón
Jirón Paruro 819
Daily, 12 noon to 11 p.m., Sundays until 8 p.m.
241-1333All dishes are á la carte. The star of the show is a whole Peking duck, for 75 soles. There are many delicacies including grilled taipá, noodle taipá and whole steamed chita fish, among others.In MirafloresSalón Capón
Larcomar Nivel 2 (Level 2)
Daily 12 noon to 12 midnight, Sundays and holidays until 11 p.m.
426-9286.This is the Miraflores branch of the venerable Chinatown restaurant, located in the Larcomar shopping center which overlooks the Pacific Ocean across the street from the Marriot Hotel.Hou Wha
Carlos Tenaud 490, block 42 of Paseo de la República
Monday to Saturday, 12:15 p.m. to 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 12:15 p.m.
Sundays, 12:15 to 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
440-0442Hou Wha's founder, Chan Sam, arrived in Peru from Hong Kong 25 years ago, and promptly opened this restaurant. Among his diner's favorites are shrimp in sweet and sour sauce, tacos made of minced pigeon, mushroom, and Chinese sausage; and, roast suckling pig, which he prepares on special order. Average cost per person, 35 soles.In San IsidroRestaurante Royal
Daily, 1 p.m. to 12 a.m.
422-9547, 421-0874A bit pricey, but they have a daily lunch buffet from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for 50 soles per person.Titi
Avenida Javier Prado Este 1212
Tuesday to Saturday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.; and 7 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.
Sundays, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
224-8189, 224-1050Unique chicken, fish, seafood, and pork dishes. Among the savory specialties are chicken kut gion kay, prawns with tausí and a pork and chicken sam si. Among the sweet specialties are crackling pork in tamarind sauce and the Imperial roll, a chicken breast stuffed with apricot, fruit, and tamarind sauce. Average cost per person, 35 soles.
If you are interested in seeing pictures of Lima's Chinatown, I posted some at this link.
What can I say? I love Peruvian food. I've been thinking for a while to start a blog about Peruvian food, and right now seems as good a time as any. Gastón Acurio recently impressed some of the most exacting food critics at the 2006 Madrid Fusion, and it seems that Peruvian food is on many people's minds these days.
I admit, I just like the way it tastes, the complexities of flavors, and the diversity of the cuisine.
I don't come to love Peruvian food from an intellectual appreciation, but one much more visceral, much more a part of who I am.
Often, when I recommend Peru as a vacation destination, one of the first questions is, "What's the food like?"
I always struggle to answer even though I know that while it may be hard to describe, visitors will be in for a very pleasant surprise. This blog is my way of having an easier time answering that question.
Through this site, not only do I hope to recommend some of the best restaurants in Peru, from hole-in-the-walls to top-of-the-line, share recipes and anecdotes, recommend other websites, and discuss the history and trends of cuisine in Peru, I also hope to make you search out that Peruvian restaurant in your neck of the woods. Or make your next trip to Peru that much better.
Once you have experienced the best of Peruvian food, you will understand why so many people feel so passionately about it. Welcome to my blog, welcome to Peru Food.
This ceviche is made of fish and shrimp. Sometimes yuyo, fresh seaweed, is added as a topping to ceviche.
A classic ceviche, made with sole, and accompanied by mote(boiled corn kernels), and camote (boiled sweet potato). The sauce for the cebiche is made with onions, lemon, and topped with rocoto, one of Peru's ubiquitous hot peppers.Peru.Food@gmail.com
Peruvians take their cuisine very seriously.
Peruvian cuisine is known for excellence, and you will be able to find many restaurants depending on your budget. The best values are usually at lunchtime, when most restaurants offer a menú which includes a choice of starter, main dish, dessert, and a beverage, for a fixed price. There are all price ranges. In Lima, seafood is particularly good, although there are many different types of cuisine available, both Peruvian regional and international.
In and around Barranco, the coastal bohemian district of Lima, I can recommend the following:
Located facing the very pleasant main plaza of Barranco, and for general drinks and snacks, check out the very traditional
Avenida Grau 274, Barranco
This bar is very famous in Barranco and has great ambience. More for snacks and refreshments instead of a full meal.
Also in Barranco is the wonderful
Cebichería Barranco (also known as La Gringa)
Avenida Panamericana Sur 270, Barranco
Daily, 10 am. to 5 pm.
This is owned by a Peruvian of Swiss descent who makes mouth-watering dishes, focusing on seafood. There is very good ambience at lunch and it is not very expensive.
I just want a ceviche.
Give me ceviche.
I need ceviche.
Will blog for ceviche.Sólo quiero un cebiche.
Me urge un cebiche.
Blog por cebiche.Peru.Food@gmail.com
Update August 2008: For a more current list of Lima cafés, see this link.Lonche is a Peruvian tradition that still has many adherents.
Essentially, it is a tea or coffee time in the late-afternoon.
A legacy of English influence in Peru during the nineteenth century, whomever is at home at the time is invited to share a light meal at lonche. Often, visitors drop in for lonche, and it can last for quite a long time as the conversation flows.
Many people also like to go out for lonche, and Lima's landmark restaurants often offer special promotions at tea time.
If you are in Lima, and in need of some pampering, or just a good meal, you might consider visiting some of the places on this list. Many are posh, but often offer different promotions. Some offer discounts for large groups.
It may seems like a splurge, but the quality of the food and the service would cost much more in your home country. I would hazard to bet, that if you can afford it, and decide to do it, it will be one of the culinary highlights of your trip. Happy travels!
Lonche is Tea Time: La República
Taking afternoon tea is the most English of all Peruvian customs. Although it may not be carried out in exactly the same manner, Peruvians enjoy gathering and sharing food at tea time. At tea time, Lima offers a number of different options worth noting, and particularly now during this Christmas holiday season, they are quite popular.
Here is the list of Lima's finest tea rooms for enjoying lonche.
(Since the article's publication, there may be changes in times or items served. Call ahead for information and reservations):
Casa Hacienda Moreyra
Paz Soldán 290, San Isidro
Reservations: 444-4022 / 222-0634
Daily, 12 noon to 12 midnight
The posh area of San Isidro used to be one large agricultural hacienda, and this restaurant is located in what used to be the main house of the hacienda.
High quality sandwiches, almost too large for one person. Choose from: roast suckling pig, with glazed fried sweet potato, and a tomato and onion side dressing; roast beef; or, a Mediterreanean bocatta sandwich (zucchini, eggplant, grilled peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, Dambo and goat cheese). How about the arabito blanco--shredded chicken with marinated sweet celery, tomato, and lettuce--- or, perhaps a Spanish bocadillo (potato omelette, topped with a steak filet, and green peppers marinated in olive oil.) Leave room for dessert.
Country Club Lima Hotel
Los Eúcaliptos 590, San Isidro
Lonche Monday to Friday, 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
In the very impressive Los Vitrales room of the posh Country Club, Tea Time Buffet includes a welcome cocktail (pisco sour or algarrobina cocktail), fresh fruit juices, cold and hot sandwiches, hot side dishes, hams and cheeses, fruit in season, a variety of fine desserts, and hot beverages.
Primavera 654, Chacarillo, San Isidro
Daily, 8 a.m. to 12 midnight
Miguel Dasso 131, San Isidro
Daily, 6 a.m. to 12 midnight
Bulevar La Plazuela, Jockey Plaza
Daily, 8 a.m. to 12 midnight
At any of the three locations around town, you can find an extensive menu, offering both savory and sweet options. Their specialty are the 'deliwraps'. The 'Tropical' is stuffed with shredded chicken, bacon, sweet corn, pineapple, melon, orange, organic lettuce, and homemade mayonnaise. The 'Naples' consists of pastrami, English ham, peppers, marinated mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, organic lettuce, and mayonnaise. There are all types of other sandwiches, side dishes, salads, and desserts.
Delphos Café at Hotel Los Delfines
Los Eúcaliptos, San Isidro
Lonche Monday to Friday,
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Beneath the crystal dome of the hotel, home of the dolphins Yaku and Waira, you enjoy a buffet of hot and cold dishes, waffles, canapés, desserts and cakes, beverages, and a welcome cocktail.
Calle Torre Tagle 301, 800 block of Enrique Palacios, Miraflores
Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
A corner locale difficult to forget. An ideal place to treat oneself to brownies, oat crackers with chocolate and chocolate chips, German-style apple cake, orange cake, carrot cake, lemon pie, chocolate and mocha cakes, (with a chocolate mousse base), lucúma (a sweet tropical fruit), chocolate rolls, andmaracuyá.
Calle Burgos 415, San Isidro
Lonche, Tuesday to Sunday,
4 p.m to 7:30 p.m
The house specialties include turkey sandwiches on peasant bread with a Waldorf and Roquefort salad, turkey sausages, humitas (sweet tamales) filled with creamy cheese and a spicy sauce, pastries, and the classic hot chocolate beverage.
Manuel Bonilla 105-111, Miraflores
Reservations: 241-3898 / 242-9721
Lonche, Monday to Sunday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
This restaurant-bar exudes warmth and offers good value at tea time. Dishes can include mini sandwiches (Thai chicken, vegetarian, light, steak and mushroom, steak and glazed sweet onions, among others,) submarine sandwiches, and canapés. They also offer chocolate, cappucino, tea and sweets (peanut, truffles, and others).
La Rosa Naútica
Espigón 4, Circuito de Playas,
on the wharf, Miraflores
Reservations: 445-0149 / 447-0057
Lonche daily, 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Tea time with a view of sunset over the Pacific, perched on a pier beneath the cliffs of Miraflores. To begin, a piña colada, pisco sour, or lemon daiquiri. Then, the sandwiches: filet mignon, with thinly-sliced French-fried potatoes or a fresh salad; chicken, with a fresh lettuce and avocado salad in an alioli dressing; the Monsieur, made of English ham and lots of grated cheese; the triple vegetarian, with artichokes, green asparagus, tomato, avocado, and fresh cheese on wheat bread. Finally, the sweet ending: hot pecan pie with maple syrup; mini profiterole ice cream with a bittersweet chocolate sauce; or, a fresh fruit merengue. To drink: soft drinks, frozen lemonade, hot chocolate, coffee, or tea.
La Tiendecita Blanca
Larco 111, Miraflores
Daily 7 a.m. to 12 midnight
A Miraflores classic, with a new special offer: a pisco sour, fruit juice, a Tiendecita Blanca sandwich, or two small sandwiches, an empanada, a dessert, and coffee or tea. In addition, there are varied large sandwiches.
La Vista at the JW Marriott Hotel
Malecón de la Reserva 615, Miraflores
Lonche, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The best and most varied tea time, with an ocean view. The buffet includes delicacies like salmon and pecan mousse, beet rolls, fusilli and chicken, varied sandwiches (roast beef, turkey and pear, chicken with pecans, ham with apricot), hot dishes (chicken fingers, deep-fried pork chicharrón, lamb brochettes, and ricotta and pasta. For dessert: fruit tarts, clusters, and cheesecake.
Le Café at the Swissôtel
Vía Central 150, San Isidro
Reservations: 421-4400, ext. 2106
Monday to Friday, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
At this classic Swiss Peruvian locale, every diner is greeted with a glass of complimentary champagne. The delicious buffet includes salty and sweet side dishes, as well as Swiss pastries. There is also traditional Swiss-style hot chocolate.
Malecón de la Reserva 610,
Reservations: 242-8110, 242-6779
Monday to Saturday,
4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
At this ocean-front locale located in the Larcomar shopping center, as you arrive you receive a courtesy pisco sour. The buffet offers you croissant-style sandwiches (chicken, black olive, fresh cheese and artichoke, chicken, or avocado), as well as cold sandwiches (ham, cream cheese, white asparagus, and mushroom). The classic triple sandwich on special bread: roast beef, romaine lettuce, tomato, dijonaisse sauce and avocado.
Hot sandwiches include mini-hamburgers and hot dogs, cheese rolls, cheesy mini quesadillas, chicken in lemon and black pepper sauce, and ham, onion, and smoked mushroom pizza. There is also an egg and potato Spanish tortilla with cured sausage, waffles, various types of bread, marmalades, sauces, and desserts such as: mini-alfajores, profiteroles, and crepes, among others.
Select at the Holiday Inn
Benavides 300 at Colón, Miraflores
Reservations: 610-0700, ext. 7110
Lonche Monday to Friday
from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Specialties include a sandwich selection, a Waldorf salad, turkey sandwiches, preserved fruit sandwiches,and grated mushroom sandwiches. There is glazed cake, hot chocolate, and a crepe table to make a dessert to your individual liking.
In Andean tradition,
the first sip of chicha or beer
at a festival or ceremony,
is always offered to the Pachamama,
the Earth Mother.
This offering is made by pouring some on the ground,