Move over Japan, France, and Italy – some of the most exciting dishes are now being concocted in Peru. Allie, a Trippy user from Buenos Aires, knew that when she sought advice from fellow Trippy users before going to the annual food festival in Lima, the capital city of Peru. She asked:
I’m headed to Lima for Mistura Food Festival and have an overwhelming list of spots I want/need to check out. Has anyone been there recently that can shed some light on my shortlist?
Chef Wong, A&G, Central, Amaz, Tia Grimanesa, La Canta Ranita, La Picanteria
Another Trippy user Genie from California wanted a list of must-try foods. She wrote:
A friend of mine and I are going to Machu Picchu at the end of our South American backpacking tour and have decided to check out Lima for a few days. We’re curious about what the local food is like there and what we should try. Can anyone give us an idea of what some of the local delicacies are there? We’re both pretty adventurous when it comes to food so the more unusual it is, the better.
If you have similar questions, take note. Here’s a list of 10 must try foods in Peru.
1. Lomo saltado
If you ask anyone from Peru, “What food should everyone try?” the answer will most definitely be lomo saltado (see photo above). This dish is ubiquitous: I discovered it in Puno, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, Ollantaytambo, Lares, Cuncani, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Nazca, Pisco, the Ballestas Islands, Huacachina and Lima.
From simple huts in villages at 12,000 feet above sea level to posh restaurants in Miraflores, I found lomo saltado. Even the cook on our trekking trip served lomo saltado one night at the campsite.
Loosely translated, lomo saltado means “jumped loins.” The word “loins” refers to tenderloin beef. It’s a stir-fry dish of sliced beef with peppers, onions, tomatoes, and French fries served over white rice. It has many variations, but the uniform ingredients are sliced beef, soy sauce, ginger and aji Amarillo (Peruvian peppers). It’s a fusion dish with Incan, Spanish and Chinese influences. The beef is of Spanish origin, the potatoes are from the Incas, and the stir-fry method originated from the Chinese.
Kelly’s favorite is lomo saltado. She wrote:
My favorite dish is lomo saltado, basically meat with rice, tomatoes, onions, and French fries!
Carina from Vienna recommended ceviche:
Ceviche: raw fish and other kinds of seafood which are marinated in citrus (mostly lime) juice. And then seasoned with aji and spiced with chili. The acid in the juices kind of “cooks” the raw ingredients, which is why they all have a chewy consistency. It mostly comes with corn and sweet potatoes! Delicious, and a bit different from Ceviche in other South American countries!
When in Peru, particularly in Lima, you must visit at least one cevecheria. Cevecherias are eateries that serve a variety of ceviches. Some cevecherias to consider:
- La Mar in Miraflores – owned by the renowned chef Gaston Acurio
- El Muelle in Barranco
- Chez Wong
- Mercado de Surquillo – a budget-friendly place
Terry from Buffalo suggested the following places for ceviches and a meal:
Cevicherias (some higher end ones in El Mercado, Pescados Capitales, Cebicheria La Mar, among others); but also try the high-end spectrum – well worth every Penny – I would HIGHLY recommend Rafael.
Marietta from Santiago recommendations included ceviche. She wrote:
You must try Ceviche; it is a typical Peruvian food prepared with fish, lemon, onion, some chili. You may go to Pescados Capitalesin Miraflores in Lima.
Cuy or guinea pig is the most unconventional dish you’ll find in this list. It has been part of the culture of the Andeans for centuries. Cuy is expensive, and it’s one of the most popular dishes eaten during special occasions in the Andes highlands. Carina said:
Cuy: If you haven’t been to any Andean places around Peru where you most likely have tried guinea pig – do it in Lima still. Cuy was “holy” during the Inca reign, and even today they make an extraordinary meal!
You’ll find the Last Supper painting in Arequipa and Cusco showing Jesus and his disciples with the dishes on the table, including cuy.
For a Peruvian-Japanese treat try tiradito. Tiradito is a Japanese-inspired raw fish dish similar to sashimi. The fish is raw and is not soaked in citrus juice. Trippy user Kurt from Peru loves ceviche and tiradito. Francesco in Miraflores, an upscale neighborhood in Lima serves one of the best tiraditos.
Try it, and you’ll appreciate Nikkei cooking, the fusion cooking with Japanese influence in Peru. Nikkei cooking uses seafood, hot chilis, miso, and dashi. Trippy user Brew from Manhattan Beach recommended Maido for Japanese Peruvian cuisine like tiradito.
Not sure what your budget is, but want to try a world class Peruvian-Fusion restaurant? Maido is one of the best restaurants in the world and is amazing.
5. Pollo a la brasa
Jeff from Portland said:
Pollo a la Brasa – Peru’s rotisserie chicken. Pardos are everywhere in Lima and pretty damn good.
Pardos has many locations throughout Peru. Besides pollo a la brasa, Pardos is known for its salads and desserts.
Lorraine had a long list of food to try. One of those in her list was anticuchos. She listed:
Picarones (sweet potato doughnuts)
Papas a la huancaina
Plantain and sweet potato crisps
A must try a pisco sour
Anticuchos (beef heart spiced and grilled)
Try Papachos in Miraflores who serve great Peruvian styled hamburgers. Go to El Salto de Fraile Restaurant in Chorrillos- enacting a local legend; a monk dives off the cliff near the restaurant (give them a great tip when they drip into the restaurant for donations).
The restaurant in Huaca Pucllana is excellent to go for a good night out. Food is good, and the pre-Incan ruins are lit up for you to view as you eat.
Try suspiro de limena dessert (Lima women’s sighs) -which is a caramel tart with flavored meringue. However, beware that the meringue is uncooked if you have an egg intolerance.
Lucuma and camu camu fruits. You definitely won’t starve in Lima.
Kamil from Brno agreed and wrote:
You have to definitely try anticuchos somewhere on the street which is usually the best ones!
Anticuchos are grilled beef heart kebabs. They are inexpensive and is said to have originated during the pre-Columbian times. According to the Peru Tourism Board,
This Peruvian dish is made from meat marinated in a special ají panca (hot red pepper) sauce, skewered on a cane stick and then grilled. The skewered heart anticucho is considered one of the most traditional and favorite dishes in some South American countries– in Peruvian and Bolivian cuisine for example.
7. Rocoto relleno
Peru’s rocoto relleno or stuffed peppers is a typical dish in Arequipa, in southern Peru. It’s red pepper stuffed with slice meat or ground meat, raisins, onion, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, hot peppers, olives, sauces and top with melted cheese. The best place to try rocoto relleno is Tanta in Arequipa.
8. Cau cau
Jonathan from Miami likes an Afro-Peruvian Creole dish called cau cau. He wrote:
One of my personal favorites is Cau-Cau which is tripe served with potatoes with a yellow aji sauce. Which is not spicy…. but very tasty. You can also try Causa…
Cau cau is served with rice. Other than the traditional tripe cau cau you can also find a variety of seafood cau cau, chicken cau cau and beef cau cau.
9. Causa rellena
Causa: As potatoes are super-popular in Peru (there are like millions of types), causa is a dish made out of mashed potato layers with either avocado, tuna or some kinds of meat. You can get it as a first course or main course, depends on the restaurant!
Causa dish started in Lima and quickly become a favorite dish in fine restaurants throughout Peru. It is a savory potato dish made like a layer cake and served cold. It can be served as a main dish or as an appetizer or snack.
10. Pisco sour
Pisco sour is one cocktail you must try before leaving Peru. Originated in Lima in the 1920s, Peruvian Pisco sour is slightly different from Chile’s Pisco sour. It’s made of brandy pisco (a type of brandy), gum syrup, egg white, lime, Angostura bitter, and sugar. Get it in single, double or cathedral sizes.