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.
Freshly made warm tortilla in a the hand is the usual accompaniment to any meal in Mexico City.
I went to Mexico City, or the federal district of Mexico, to eat. I forgot that one has to do something with the hours in between. Well, actually, I forgot that a few million other people would want to visit Frida, along with the few hundreds we saw outside the museum. We failed to see the inside of Frida’s blue house. So if that is your intent, plan ahead. Or take your chances and wait a few hours in the hopes that you will get in. It gives you something to do between meals.
On to the food. We started on a Friday evening at El Progreso. Chopped everything short of the oink at one end and beef fillet at the other end.
The crew are friendly and happy to explain things to a tourist but also equally at ease serving up tacos by the doubles to the cops and security guards who are clearly regulars.
Go after dark. The nightlights and shadows add a drama to this taqueria that would be lost in the harsh light of day.
Then head to El Moro for a fried churro, but really, go for the ice cream. It’s served as one of the famous churro ice cream sandwiches, but I just scooped it out — it was sprinkled with speckles of vanilla dots.
Have their hot chocolate too. It’s a tradition. But, I was liked the ice cream. Call me a heathen!
For lunch, head downtown and eat at the Sanborns de los Azulejos. The building is made up of blue tile and hard to miss. If you eat in the salon on the Cinco de Mayo side, it’s got a soda fountain feel and very local. If you eat in the grand salon on the Francisco Madero, you will have a long wait but the pay off is eating in a GRAND HALL.
For dinner, try Lardo, for a feeling of being in Spain. Don’t get the deep fried green beans and you’ll be okay. Good cocktails and people watching.
Then for breakfast, eat at Forbidden Fruit. It’s located in a posh neighborhood with a nice park nearby. The juices are scrummy, as they are almost everywhere in Mexico, and the breakfast which is also good.
For lunch, go to Condesa Azul. It’s super upscale. Eat upstairs and you’ll feel like you’re eating in a glitzy tree house.
The Oaxacan ladies making tortillas are still the most beautiful part of an already pretty restaurant.
Try the mole. At the risk of being barred from Mexico forever, I’ll admit that moles are too sweet for me. I’m just not into them. But, I loved the fresh tortillas! Please let me back in!
Along the way, eat corn on the cob, spiced chips with lime, and sliced fruit with chili! If you need more, try the tacos in a basket (mainly to see what the hullabaloo is about), and if you must, go to Maison Kaiser for a French pastry.
In between, waddle over to the exhibits and dancers on the zocolo, the museum, and the folklore dancers at the Teatro de Bellas Artes.
Three years ago, when I first ate in Lima, I did not foresee that I’d ever be able to call Lima home. But, after the first 48 hours of constant eating, and the subsequent many visits, eating modern classics (ceviche classico) and trying less famous dishes (pejerrey roe sandwich), my cultural advisor (and friend), said to me one day, “you’ll just have to move here so we can try more dishes.” So I did.
My original posting was written in 2014 but, three years later, I still include the same places in the food tour. I include a photo from El Pan de la Chola, as I did not include that in my original posting, but it is part of my current food tour of Lima for my visitors.