I realize that I’ve been ignoring Statera restaurant. Or rather, that I haven’t been going there enough. Part of the problem, I think, has been that I forgot that they are open for lunch (their dinner service doesn’t start until 8 p.m. which is way past my bedtime.) But, their lunch is Tuesday-Sunday, 12:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. I think I’ll go more often for lunch. It’s located at Av. Mariscal La Mar 463, Miraflores. The place doesn’t look so big from outside so it’s easy to miss.
The reasons that I recommend Statera are:
It’s possible to eat there without planning for months out, as one has to do at Central.
The tasting menu is half the price and half the time.
The bartender is superbly skilled.
The owner, Andres, is a young chef who worked as Central’s Research and Development chef for two years. He also worked at Noma in Copenhagen. Plus, he speaks English and is personable (and he remembers the critique of his clients). He continually changes his menu, but has managed to keep menu items that worked well (like the pumpkin done in three ways — completely vegan — even though it tastes like fois gras).
While I send people to Statera if they can’t get in to Central, I think that Statera actually manages to embody the “nueva andina” cuisine better — combining both the beauty of presentation and imaginative use of local ingredients, while also providing food that is delicious and of normal portion size.
Six months ago, I posted my top ten restaurants in Lima (that one was based mainly on the insider knowledge. Shout-out to her!), but as I’ve been going to other restaurants on my own, here is an updated list. It is still based on the following: good food, good service–every time, all the time. I’m highly allergic to places that are so famous that it’s impossible to get a reservation (or use a reservation system that puts me right off my dinner). My list is of places that serve Peruvian and “international standard” food (as in, everyone serves a green salad). So, to the list!
El Pan de la Chola (in the “international standard” cafe/bakery category): Still at number one, despite being a “bakery and sandwich shop.” Consistently delicious. Good service. Every time. They now have salad, and they have wine and beer. Try it for nighttime and enjoy the completely hipster vibe.
Cosmé (also in the “international standard” but they also serve ceviche and other Peruvian dishes, and at night!): Still the unknown place I take out-of-town visitors. Still love the red cabbage salad. Best “secret” place as they seem to do zero publicity. Open at 6 p.m.
Jeronimo (In the “international standard” category and world class): Yes, they use an annoying reservation system, but, go right when they open up at lunch, or sit at the bar. This was the first restaurant opened by Moma Adrianzen, who has since brought Chinga Tu Taco and Frida to the Lima food scene. Jeronimo is a world-class restaurant of the caliber that you would find in London, San Francisco, New York, Melbourne, etc.
BEST NEWCOMER: Mérito (Venezuelan chefs making fusion Venezuelan-Peruvian): Straight in at number four. They have only been open for six months (it’s been an active six months) and their menu is fairly small. Delicious food. Great service. Only one dish was not perfection. The longest yuca fries I’ve seen in a long time. Lots of pea shoots pepper almost all the dishes.
La Preferida (a classic Peruvian-Italian bodega, with game!): It would probably be number one but it’s not open for dinner.
La Mar (Gaston Acurio’s cevicheria): Only open for lunch, till 5 p.m.
El Mercado (Rafael Osterling’s cevicheria): Only open for lunch. Go at 12:15 p.m. and wait in line. The shrimp mini burger is superb.
La Picanteria (a cevicheria): Only open for lunch. Located in the “some day I’ll be the hip area of town” Surquillo, just two blocks behind the central market.
Osso: (Also, “international standard”, and yes, as event though it’s a steakhouse, they have vegetarian options and not just salad.) The location in San Isidro is so large that you will most likely get a table, even at night.
Osaka (a Peruvian-Japanese “Nikkei” place with a uber-hipster locale in San Isidro): The tuna with foie gras keeps Osaka on the list (although I wish they would turn on the light — the mood is clearly wasted on me).
La Isolina (brought to you by the sons of La Red cevicheria): Serves old-fashion home recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
La Red (the cevicheria that started it all): The legend. Only open for lunch.
Taller Razeto (Italian): This would be higher on the list but it is located out in La Punta and it’s a journey to get out there. Still, some of the best pasta and pizza in Greater Lima.
And yes, again, I’ve been to Central, Maido, Rafael, and Astrid y Gaston. If you want to try a up-and-comer a la Central, try Statera. It’s the newest offshoot of Noma/Central style food. Foam, baby, foam!
I eat regularly at a few other places, but as the food is not Peruvian (even if they have adapted some of their dishes to accommodate the tastes of Peruvians), I’m not including them on my list. Yet.
Dhaasu (zero fusion here, but using local ingredients).
Dae Jang Geum
I’ve also finally activated an Instagram account for M’s Adventures: madventures.me #madventuresdotme
Recently, I got asked about suggestions for where to eat seafood in Lima.
Eating seafood is an integral part of life in Lima. And no, it’s not all raw.
First, take the recommended fish of the day — it will be the freshest. Also, remember that salmon is not from Peru (in the highlands, they do have a lake trout which is similar). While they eat a lot of tuna here, it is more in the Japanese “Nikkei” style food, and most recently, in the rise of the Poke! Typical seafood dishes to try here are: ceviche (done in many ways but go with “el classico” — although now they do versions of ceviche with “pork rinds of seafood” = deep fried seafood) and tiradito (carpaccio of fish). The scallops are so tender that they’ll make you go weak at the knees (“conchas a la parmesana” is classic and resounding puts to bed any idea that seafood and cheese aren’t delicious together). Peruvians love soup of all kinds but I find many of them are too fiercely fishy for my palate. Most places will serve fish in various other styles including , “a lo macho” which is when the fish is served with manly red spicy seafood sauce — note: almost nothing in Peru is spicy like in Thailand — it’s just a touch of spice unless you eat one of the chili peppers).
Try some of these restaurants (and keep in mind that most cevicherias close at 5 p.m. or earlier as traditionally fish is only fresh for breakfast or lunch. I’m trying to think of when I’ve seen a Peruvian order ceviche at night). Lastly, Peruvians love franchising so don’t worry that many of these places are chains. I’ve listed the daytime places in relative order of “But, it’s RAW! And I’m willing to try it… but only one tine of my fork…” to “No AC and no ingles! Gotta talk to the local sitting next to me? Bring it on!”
“But, it’s RAW! And I’m willing to try it… but only one tine of my fork…”
El Mercado (considered the best restaurant by many) – international star chef and this place usually ranks on the “50 Best” list. Line up at 12:15 or make a reservation.
La Mar (by Gaston Acurio) – I like this place because it’s got it all. Also good lighting for photos. Go at 12:30 p.m. or 4 p.m. if you don’t want to wait.
El Segundo Muelle (a seafood chain)
El Seniorio de Sulco (old school place that old-time Limenos go to)
Francesco (very old school)
La Red – my favorite old school place – part of the legend in making the Lima food scene so great. Also, they have a good “lomo saltado” for those who don’t eat fish. The sons of the legend opened La Isolina (located in Barranco and open at night) which also has great food, including fish.
La Preferida (this is my secret place for fettucine pasta with a creamy seafood sauce)
“No AC and no ingles! Gotta talk to the local sitting next to me? Bring it on!”
La Picanteria – Internet famous. Good food too. One has to buy the whole fish by weight and then choose two methods of preparation. The inside of the restaurant is not scary but the location of this restaurant is in Surquillo right behind the market, so going there is probably by taxi. If you are the sort of person who visits the market (for photos and to try new fruits), then the restaurant is only two streets away (but hold your buddy’s hand when crossing the street, and look both ways).
La Leche – hidden gem in Surco and San Isidro.
Toke Pez (hole in the wall)
If you want to eat seafood at night (most restaurants serve fish and seafood but serving ceviche at night is a sign of a modern restaurant catering to foreigners, or moving with the times since there is this thing called refrigeration):
Pescados Capitales – a chain of high-end seafood restaurants
Las Brujas de Cachiche – open late and has everything Peruvian on the menu
Cosme (also one of those secret places not on the “50 Best” lists). Not many fish dishes but they do ceviche, tiradito, and a cooked fish of the day dish.
Lastly, eating seafood in Lima may spoil your ability to eat seafood in other places.
I’m likely to get flack for my top 10 list… When I go out to eat, I look for good food, good service, good ingredients, reliability and consistency. I have not yet been to 500 places but here are my current top 10. And, yes, I have been to Central, Rafael, Astrid y Gaston, and Maido.
El Pan de la Chola
La Segunda Muelle
Frida (best newcomer)
This list may change as I get to Don Doh and other places of fame.
Lima’s main attraction as a city is food tourism. Otherwise, Lima is a pit stop on the route to Machu Picchu. The main reason for Peru’s rise as a gastronomic powerhouse is Gaston Acurio. He, single-handed, has promoted the gastronomy of Peru on to the world stage.
Gaston Acurio (La Mar, Astrid y Gaston, Panchita, Tanta, Madam Tusan, etc,) is the businessman of the chef trinity. The others are Virgilio Martinez (Central and Mil) and Rafael Osterling (Rafael, El Mercado, and Felix Brasserie). Virgilio is the genius of the food scene (all photos are from Central) and Rafael is an excellent cook.
The newest addition is Mitsuharu ‘Micha’ Tsumura of Maido, currently one of the top restaurants in the world.
These chefs have paved the way for the multitude of chefs working in Lima today: Moma of Jeronimo and Chinka Tu Taco, James Berckemeyer of Cosme. Pedro Miguel Schiaffino of Amaz and Malabar.
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 my secret, 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. The exception is Statera. Easy to get in to and the owner worked at Central for two years.
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).
That said, I start with including photos of a “criollo” or “creole” soup of meat, noodles, and fried egg (can be had in lots of restaurants. The addition of a fried egg to a dish tends to make it “criollo”). Plus an uber modern dish of sushi made with raw tuna and foie gras (from Osaka restaurant). The photo doesn’t do it justice. You will just have to go there and try it. You may feel the earth move.
Food in Lima. I finally created a book with some of the foods I’ve tried on my many visits to Lima these past few years. Buy it here, on Lulu, if you wish. It’s just a little book, 7×9 inches, so it will fit in a bag easily (that way I can carry it around with me).
In reality, since my first visit, when I first had the classic ceviche as seen in the photo, all of my visits to Lima have been “food tours.” Some day, I’ll even get to Mistura, the food festival. I will, I will!