Five years ago, I visited Lima for a weekend. My friend and her family, are my experts on Peruvian food and culture. She turned the weekend into a Peruvian food tour. Now that I have lived in Lima for a few years, here are my recommendations for a three-day food tour of Lima. Of course, if you plan your travel here around reservations at Central or Maido, then do that or go to one of the other places on my list of 100 places to try. This list is focused on showing your visitors some of the variety and best of “nueva andina” cuisine.
El Cacaotal, Jr. Colina 128A, Barranco: Closed on Sundays. Grab a coffee or hot chocolate at this premiere chocolate “library” of Peruvian fine chocolates.
Dinner (open from 7:30 p.m. except for Cosme that is open from 6 p.m. Reservations are better but not requisite. Merito does not take reservations, show up at 7:20 p.m. and stand in line)
Statera, Av. Mariscal La Mar 463: The former R&D chef at Central, who also worked at Noma, opened his own place. All the inventiveness and intellectual complexity of Central but without the prices and hype.
Cosme, Tudela Y Varela 160-162, San Isidro (the other side of the street is Miraflores): Cozy and delicious.
Jeronimo, Av. Mariscal La Mar 1209: Much of the food is not specific to Peru but it’s still delicious!
Merito, Jr. 28 De Julio 206, Barranco: Venezuelan chefs who worked at Central = haute cuisine with a Venezuelan influence.
Lunch (these cevicherias, like all traditional ceviche places, are only open for lunch and sometimes breakfast)
La Preferida, Calle Julian Arias Aragüez 698, Miraflores: This original location is very local to this upper-middle class neighborhood. No tourists.
La Picanteria, Calle Santa Rosa 388, Surquillo: Internet-famous. Lots of food tours go here. Pick the fish and have it cooked two ways. Family style eating. Also serves non-fish.
Al Toke Pez, Av. Angamos 886, Surquillo: the chef is famous for being a Ph.D. who has chosen to honor his father’s culinary tradition (his father opened Matsuei) by opening a hole-in-the-wall.
Cordanos, Jirón Ancash 202, Cercado de Lima: If you are touristing downtown, this former political moshpit near the main square, still serves atmosphere with good food.
La Isolina, Av. San Martin 101, Barranco: This place is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The owner is the son of Isolina, who opened La Red. La Isolina serves her recipes. The son has now opened Las Reyes in a tribute to his mom and her sisters (as in “the King girls”), all good cooks.
Las Vecinas, Jirón Domeyer 219, Barranco: Just down the street from La Isolina. Gluten-free, vegetarian, healthy, and all those other feel good options. Cute interior too.
The city of Trujillo, an easy hour flight north of Lima, is a great weekend destination. Trujillo is called the city of eternal spring. In the depth of Lima winter, I went looking for some spring. Flying up on a Friday evening, the pickup from the airport was easily done by the hotel located on the central square. The airport is located 20 minutes from the city and you even pass one of the tourist sites on the way in — Chan Chan — before passing a modern mall and convention center.
The archaeological site of the Huaca of the Moon and the Sun is a mere 20 minutes outside of the city so easily visited. The new site called “El Brujo”, is only 63 kilometers to the north but due to the road conditions, it takes 80 minutes. I’d recommend going to these two sites in one day, with lunch in the coastal town of Huanchaco, eat at Big Ben.
Then go for a walk along the Huanchaco malecon (boardwalk – sidewalk) and take your selfies with the reed boats, “caballitos de totora” — reed horsies, so called because the fishermen ride astride the boats, instead of sitting in them. Back in Trujillo, enjoy, on Saturday evenings, the free marinera (a type of dance) performances in the main square, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Join in! Then walk down to one of the famous restaurants for dinner. The photo of the Waldorf salad is from the famous restaurant with the balcony, El Celler de Cler.
On Sunday mornings, the main square is blocked off and the town dignitaries walk about in a procession. This is a good time to get photos of the square. Later, go to Chan Chan.
When you buy pottery reproduction souvenirs, make sure that the item is stamped as a reproduction so that you aren’t accused of buying cultural patrimony. The reproductions are some of the highest quality I’ve seen, as souvenirs go.
Then back to Huanchaco for lunch. The whole malecon is shoulder to shoulder with restaurants. Try the special “aji de gallina” of this area, made with crab. Or stick to ceviche which will be some of the best you’ve had.
“I don’t mind if I scream out in pain as long as I feel better the next day.” Does that sound like a good recommendation for a massage therapist?
If you’ve read my bio page, then you know that one of the things I “collect” like stamps — are massage, physical therapy, experiences. So, when I heard about this “don’t mind if I scream” therapist, I took the endorsement and whatsapped her during dinner! After all, my physical therapist, Kharla, left me, so I’ve been trying out different therapists. I’ve tried Thalia, Silvana, Luz, and others whose names I can’t recall. I’ve been having Luz do my massages but she puts skid marks on my walls to gain traction enough to dig deep into my corpus. Something keeps me from scheduling her on a regular basis.
After a few weeks with no physical therapy, my neck and shoulders start to make me walk like I’m carrying a sack of coal. So, tonight was the night to try the “no pain, no gain” therapist. Gisell arrived a few minutes after the appointed time. She is cuddly-looking woman with a sweet face. I asked her about the price for an hour massage. 120 soles for the “strong” and 100 for the “light” massage. I went for the strong. After all, I haven’t actually met too many therapists who could actually hurt me, at least not for more than a few seconds (other than that sadist in Queens — a whole other story)…
But, sh^&$@^%#*%&@sus (pardon my F^&&!#), did I meet one who can put a hurtin’ on! I told her that my neck and shoulder hurt. She proceeded, for the next hour, to try to squeeze, push, extrude, shove, bump, pull, yank, and extract the flesh, AND the marrow, from between my bones and ligaments — throughmy vertebrae! As I was wide awake and following every thumb scoop, I learned a lesson in anatomy (I did have to stop her orbital massage as I wasn’t sure if she would change my vision). At one point, I would have giggled but I couldn’t.
Afterwards (no arm, hand, or feet massage), I asked her where she had learned her technique. It turns out that she also studied anatomy! She said that she had to do it deep to relieve the knots and pain in my shoulders…
If you want to try the p(g)ain, her information is:
Gisell (does not speak English): 966 291 877
100 soles for gentle one-hour (not sure if that’s possible)
120 soles for deep-DEEP one-hour
She doesn’t bring her own massage table as she normally does her work on a normal mattress and with a pillow as a bolster.
Next time, I’ll have her do a finger massage. That will be interesting research…