Peru has been awarded the prize for Best Culinary Destination in the World by the World Travel Awards for five years in a row. For the locals in Peru, this award comes as no surprise.
Peruvian cuisine is a culinary fusion, which has slowly emerged through a lengthy process of cultural exchange between the Spanish, Japanese, African, Chinese, and Italian. As immigrants from different cultures migrated to Peru over the past century, they brought with them new culinary methods, influences, and ingredients, many of which are responsible for the unique flavors found in Peruvian cuisine.
The way Pervuvian food is prepared has evolved thanks to a new generation of chefs. We have Virgilio Martinez , featured in the popular Netflix series Chef’s Table, Gaston Acurio, and Rafael Osterling. These chefs are not afraid to experiment with Peruvian ingredients and have made Peruvian cuisine a prized privilege for both residents and visitors.
Peruvians Love to Talk About Food.
Peruvians take pride in their vast culinary heritage. They love to eat, but they also love talking about eating. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself listening to locals discussing what they'll eat next while they're already eating. They may even talk about a memorable meal they've had in the past. It is not uncommon for conversation to take place around food.
You'll be Bombarded with Questions.
Customs surrounding food in Peru are pretty simple: just eat. However, you'll want to be prepared, because when the locals find out it's your first time in Peru, you will be bombarded with questions. They will ask: what do you think of the food? Have you tried the ceviche? Where are you going for lunch? You have to try…
But don’t worry! Here is a list of 7 restaurants you can’t miss on your next visit to Peru.
7 Restaurants You Can't Miss When in Peru
According to The World’s Best 50 Restaurants Academy, Central has been ranked as the 5th Best Restaurant in the world and number 1 in Latin America.
Located in Lima, it is brought to us by Virgilio Martinez who will take you on a journey through Peru with 17 options on the menu. This restaurant is a true celebration of Peruvian’s biodiversity. You’ll experience rare ingredients from the most recondite places in the country.
The cuisine is inspired by the different regions of Peru. You'll experience unique flavors from all over the country within one wonderfully executed menu. These perfectly thought out dishes will surprise but never disappoint you.
Make sure you book a reservation one to three months before your visit as demand for a table in this restaurant runs high.
This tavern uses a type of cooking found more commonly in the kitchen of Limeña grandmothers than in restaurants. It's known as criollo, and Isolina is getting it right.
You can enjoy the local colonial architecture of Barranco-Lima as well as the ocean view that characterizes the district while dining here. Your trip to Isolina should not only be about the food but also about the cultural experience.
The restaurant features Peruvian dishes influenced by the cultural heritage left by the Spanish and African slaves. These dishes and type of food are known today as criollo cuisine. Artfully transforming the way we perceive ingredients that may have once turned our noses, Isolina delivers each item so you are left wanting more. Chances are, you won't even know you're eating tripe, animal brain, or ossobuco.
A reservation one or two days in advance should guarantee you a table in this tavern, and be prepared for generous portions!
3. El Mercado
You can't visit Peru without trying its signature dish – ceviche. Made with raw fish that is cured in fresh lime juice and spices, it is often accompanied with red onions, sweet potato, and Peruvian corn.
El Mercado, a restaurant located in the Miraflores district of Lima, is the place to try Peruvian ceviche. Not interested in trying it? There are plenty of other menu items brought in fresh from the Pacific shores of Peru.
From shellfish to octopus to calamari, El Mercado will serve you only the freshest ingredients available.
Online reservations can be made through their websites two days in advance.
4. UCHU: Peruvian Steakhouse
When visiting Peru, it is almost mandatory to visit Machu Picchu, the ancient Inca ruins located in the Cusco Province. You can immerse yourself in the Andean Mountains, and travel back in time when using the stone paved streets that characterize the region. When you're finished exploring Machu Picchu, satisfy your hunger at UCHU.
And if you’re looking to try something different, this Peruvian steakhouse provides a unique experience. They are famous for their steaks served on volcanic stone, native to Peru. On their menu you'll find traditional steak, lamb, and also alpaca. It's all served on a 500°C stone on your table!
Reservations can be made one day in advance.
There has been a trend surfacing over the past few years of Peruvian-Japanese fusion, also known as Nikkei Cuisine. There is no better place to try this style of cooking than the Maido Restaurant in Lima.
The menu pays homage to both cultures by bringing only the best of the Pacific Ocean to the table in sensational ways. The simple decoration of the restaurant creates a certain ambiance that gives way to the complex process of Nikkei Cuisine.
Be prepared for a powerful culinary experience at Maido and book a table 2-3 weeks in advance, because this restaurant is No. 13 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards.
6. Canta Rana
Literally translated as the “Singing Frog”, Canta Rana is a favorite among locals. The restaurant’s peculiar decorations cover every inch of wall to reflect the owner’s love of soccer. The menu features Ceviche Imperial – served with grilled octopus and avocado. You'll also have to give Ceviche Apaltado a try. This one is served with both avocado and capers to add strong but delicious flavor.
The restaurant has been able to keep up with tradition and innovation while yielding satisfaction at an affordable rate. Make sure to get there early to avoid long wait times. This place does not take reservations.
7. Ayahuasca Restobar
Set up in an old colonial house, Ayahuasca Restobar is beautiful and intricate in design. Each different space inside the house is decorated after different Peruvian sub-cultures. It’s a place to learn about the local art scene and the Peruvian interpretation of finger food.
Ayahuasca is also well known for its exotic drinks containing ingredients from the jungles of Peru. From strange herbs and exotic fruits, the bar has the most unlikely cocktail combinations. I recommend you try the national cocktail: Pisco Sour, made with pisco, a local liquor, and lime.
Ayahuasca is fun, affordable and delicious. If you get a chance, you should also try the Peruvian craft beers while you're there. Table reservations are not necessary but if you’re a big group, make sure you book a table through their website.