Lima may not be prettiest city to visit in South America, but Peru’s capital is one of the world’s leading culinary destinations, thanks to the abundance of fresh produce and the unique culture of fusion cooking. This year Lima was the only place to receive two spots on the World’s 50 Best top ten list, testament to the exemplary standard of cooking and the skill showcased in the restaurants here. Alongside the fine dining establishments Lima has a range of wonderful casual restaurants, offering fresh seafood, comforting stews and, of course, ceviche and cocktails. Here are my favourite culinary discoveries from Lima, when I visited on a foodie pilgrimage last month…
Central – Imaginative and innovative in every sense of the word, Central is a food experience you will remember forever. The restaurant is the brainchild of culinary mastermind Virgilio Martínez, and has recently moved to a new home in the Barranco district. In the 16 course tasting menu each plate is inspired by a different altitude and microcosm of Peru. I barely recognised any of the ingredients on the list, and loved learning about the country through this spectacular and delicious menu. Virgilio and team have also just opened a new restaurant called Mil, outside Cusco.
Maido – This smart and stylish restaurant is renowned for its unrivalled Nikkei cuisine. Immaculately balancing the flavours of Peru with the cooking techniques of Japan, Lima-born chef Tsumura studied in the US and Japan before returning to Peru to open Maido. Highlights from the tasting menu include a fish hotdog, dim sum with squid and sea snail cau-cau, and sea urchin rice. I fell in love with the 50 Hour Slow Cooked Beef with Chaufa Rice.
Astrid & Gaston – Founded by Gastón Acurio, Astrid & Gaston has always been at the forefront of the Lima destination dining scene. Currently the restaurant is found at the palatial Casa Moreyra, a grand building with several dining rooms, each decorated with striking modern art. Either enjoy an intricate tasting menu by Head Chef (and rising star) Juan David Ocampoor or choose from the extensive a la carte menu. I highly recommend sampling the Guinea Pig xiao-long-bao.
Belmond Miraflores Park – This luxury hotel is the perfect place to learn a little more about Peruvian cuisine. One of the chefs will accompany you to the local Surquillo market for a tour of the produce and speciality ingredients. Once you’ve collected what you need you’ll head back to the hotel for a ceviche cooking class on the rooftop. We combined citrus, onions, chilli, herbs and corn to make the ceviche dressing before adding in the raw white fish and topping with vibrant toppings.
Guests of Miraflores Park are also invited to join the nightly Pisco Sour masterclass with Andre in Belo Bar. This free event is a great way to try your hand at cocktail making and taste a range of Piscos.
El Mercado – This lively, fun restaurant in the Miraflores district is only open for lunch, and is always full of locals and tourists feasting on their ceviche and BBQ dishes. We sat at the bar and feasted on Suckling pig tacos, goat and lime bean mash, and deliciously smoky barbecued octopus. The El Mercado team have a second restaraurant called Rafael, which receives equally glowing reviews.
Tragaluz – Tragaluz is the main restaurant in the upmarket Miraflores Park Hotel. Inside the smart but colourful restaurant is decorated with wild murals by Lima artist Mateo Liébana, or you can sit outside at a patio table and admire the views of the lush Parque Domodossola and the sea in the distance. The kitchen present elegant International and Peruvian food, highlights on the menu include the Tragaluz steak and the mini tacos.
Isolina – Isolina is a typical traditional taberna, and Chef José del Castillo aims to please with the ultimate Peruvian comfort food. The simple decor is cosy and atmospheric, set in a historic house in Barranco. We enjoyed the warming beef short rib stew with rice and beans washed down with homemade lemonade.
Ana Avellana – If you are in need of a sugar boost in Lima Ana Avellana is the place to go. The little cafe has a charming interior, with comfy sofas and a cake display that would make anyone hungry. Don’t miss the decadent cheesecake and the amazing chocolate chip cookies.
Breakfast / Brunch
El Pan De La Chola – This bakery is internationally renowned for making the best bread and pastries in town. The chic venue is found in Miraflores, a coffee shop and cafe that is popular with everyone in the neighborhood, from businessmen to fashionistas. We stopped by for breakfast on our first day in Lima and enjoyed Stumpy coffees (a bit bigger than a Cortado) and absolutely delicious croissant and pan au chocolats… flaky, buttery and irresistable. I’d also highly recommend the avocado on toast.
La Panetteria – This fantastic local bakery is in the heart of the bohemian Barranco district. The cute cafe serves good coffee and great breakfast and brunch. Stop by for a morning croissant or a sandwich at lunchtime.
Colonia & Co – Colonia & Co is a homely cafe that serves brunch plates and brilliant coffee. The small artistic space is a lovely place to spend the morning in Barranco, order a flat whites and the homemade brioche French toast.
Milimetrica Espresso Bar – Milimetrica opened in Lima in 2017, a coffee mecca for caffeine lovers. The cycling coffee shop, precisely weigh the beans to create a coffee that is to exacting standards. The tasty coffee beans are from Cajamarca, growing 1,800 meters above sea level. The two varieties they use are Caturra and Bourbon, which are both very fruity and fragrant.
Neira Cafe Lab – This speciality coffee shop in Miraflores is a project by barista Harryson Neira. The coffee lab uses high quality Peruvian beans to make it’s deliciously rich tropical tasting coffee. Stop by for an espresso or a pour over coffee.
Cafe Verde – Cafe Verde may not look like much from the outside, but this small corner shop cafe is definitely worth a visit. Husband and wife team (K.C and Tatiana) opened Café Verde in 2007 with the aim of exporting green coffee beans and championing an ecological ethos behind the coffee they sell. The coffee is creamy and addictive and the cafe has a relaxed feel.
I was a guest of Belmond Miraflores Park, more information and book a stay at the hotel here.