When entering a restaurant in Lima these days, the waiter will automatically ask if you have a reservation. Even if the restaurant is empty and it’s 5 p.m. So what do you do? How do you get to eat at the places that are a MUST? Like Maido, recently ranked as the number 1 — No. 1 — numero uno restaurant in the world by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants?
What indeed. What’s the secret? Go at an off-hour. Walk in at 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. and promise to be done by 7 or 8. Maido doesn’t even open for dinner until 7 so try going at 3:30 p.m. at the end of their lunch hours or be at the doors waiting to get in at 12:25, five minutes before they open for lunch (try a Saturday or Sunday when Peruvians would normally eat lunch at 1:30 or later). Or at a place like La Mar, which serves lunch (they are not open for dinner) until 5:30 p.m., try going at 4 p.m. for an early dinner or “linner” as the kitchen is still open until 5:30 p.m. For other places, try going on a Monday or Tuesday night. If it’s a famous breakfast place like El Pan de la Chola, try eating there at night (when you might actually feel like having a glass of wine or beer — which they always have on the menu — but you perhaps don’t want at 9 a.m.).
Or you can plan your visit around the restaurant visit. Make the reservation and plan your visit around it. Perhaps this is the solution for places like Central. It’s possible that you are super well-connected, but for the rest of us, try one of my tips.
Or, go to one of the lesser famous places but with equally delicious food (a chain — horror! — like La Seguende Muelle, or La Preferida, or the up-and-comer, Cosme). The current trend in gastronomy is a wee bit too fancy for me, but then I don’t like hype over foam and tiny portions.
Note: Most of the photos are from Astrid and Gaston, including the Guinea Pig Peking “Duck” Style (object in photo appears larger than in real life).