With Peruvian restaurants gaining popularity globally and tourists flocking to Peru to sample the cuisine, there’s no doubt that Peruvian food is about much more than just ceviche. Part of its appeal can be explained by its sheer diversity, as it draws its influences from Spanish, African, French, Cantonese, Japanese and Italian kitchens, making it fusion food at its best.
For Peruvians it is part of our identity and a reason to celebrate our culture. Here at Acomer.pe we are a team of passionate chefs who curate the best of Peruvian food. We help to develop our beloved cuisine further, whilst reviving traditions and recipes in danger of being lost. Lima is often referred to as Latin America’s gastronomic capital and we have used our insider knowledge to put together a guide to the best of Lima’s food scene:
There is no better way to kick off this adventure than with one of our flagship dishes—ceviche—prepared with fresh fish in a spicy, citrus marinade. We’ve got ceviche for all tastes: from street food stalls to haute cuisine, but one of our favorite places to eat ceviche is at stall number 438 in the San José market in the Jesús María district. Cevichería Andrea is a small restaurant that serves Peruvian street food, with only four or five tables and a long line of customers. Its specialty is the “combinado”, a dish that combines ceviche with “chicharrón” (fried shellfish or rice with shellfish). The ceviche is marinated in “Leche de tigre” (tiger’s milk, a cold marinade made from fish, vegetables, lemon and chilies), which helps to balance the acidity and makes each mouthful addictive. We suggest that you get there early to try their delicious dishes, as they sell out in a matter of hours.
Our next destination is the La Mar ceviche restaurant in Miraflores. It’s one of our favorite places to enjoy ceviche thanks to their use of freshly-caught fish. The counter displays the catch of the day and you can pick out any fish and order it prepared just how you like it. Gastón Acurio needs only five ingredients for the perfect classic ceviche: fresh fish, lemon, chili, onion, and salt.
Creole cuisine has a strong influence on Peruvian food and is behind one of our best-known dishes, “lomo saltado” (stir-fried steak). It was influences from Africa that resulted in dishes such as “cau cau” (tripe stew), “chanfainita” (lung stew) and “anticucho” (beef hearts on skewers), as ingredients such as tripe, lungs etc had not featured much in Peruvian cuisine prior to this. But not all Creole dishes are savory and it features renowned desserts such as “Picarones” made with pumpkin and sweet potato, and served together with a sweet honey syrup.
Panchita is one of the best Creole restaurants in Lima. Martha Palacios, the executive chef, is passionate about Creole food and has even published a cookbook of Lima recipes dating back to 1867 together with Gastón Acurio. Her restaurant serves the finest of these recipes made with seasonal ingredients.
In Lima, we are always talking about food and everybody always wants to talk about the best “anticucherías”: street food stalls whose popularity is spread by word of mouth. At these stalls you’ll find “anticuchos” (beef hearts on skewers), and “rachi” and “mollejas” (cow organs). Marinated in Peruvian chili, they are carefully grilled to infuse them with that smoky flavor that goes so well with boiled corn or potatoes, served with spicy sauces. Our favorite “anticucho” is found in Surquillo district’s Mercado No. 1. At sunset, the market is filled with the smells of grilled meat and a thin haze of smoke. Follow your nose to the “anticuchos” stall at “Pasaje de Jesús” where you can try some juicy “anticucho” beef hearts on skewers, with the perfect smoky flavor and seasoning.
Our gastronomy has reaped the benefits from Japanese immigration to Peru, which began in 1899. Along with cooking techniques, Japanese ingredients were also rapidly introduced into Peru’s colorful and tasty cuisine. A good example is our modern ceviche, which is now prepared instantly with raw fish, as if it were sashimi.
Since 2015, Nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian) cuisine has become famous worldwide after appearing on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for the first time. We love to eat at Māketto restaurant. Named after the Japanese word for ‘market’ and inspired by the alleyways of Japan, Javier Miyasato’s restaurant boasts Nikkei rolls, stews, buns and burgers all with the distinctive Japanese-Peruvian flavor.
Continuing with Nikkei cuisine, we arrive at Shizen. A restaurant specializing in ceviches, sushi and ramen, its young chefs work with ingredients straight from the sea including prized fish like mackerel and delicacies such as maguro tuna and sea urchins. Its menu is easy to understand: cold dishes, nigiri, rolls and an ideal selection of hot dishes ranging from “El Chupe” ramen soup, inspired by a Peruvian broth made from shellfish and root vegetables, to “Marcona udon”: a creamy dish of Japanese noodles and sea urchins. Its ceviches and “tiraditos” are also a delight. Our recommendation is scallop and rocoto pepper “tiradito”. It is composed of fresh scallop strips served in a smoked rocoto pepper sauce. A fine example of Japanese techniques combined with Peruvian flavors.
And we couldn’t end this article without mentioning dishes from the contemporary cuisine that we are so proud of. One of our favorite places is Astrid & Gastón, a Lima institution celebrating its 25th anniversary and winner of several awards. You’ll find reinvented Peruvian dishes on its menu, prepared using haute cuisine techniques and select ingredients. Our favorite dish is the rice with duck, a classic Peruvian dish prepared using techniques originating in Europe. Another one of our favorites is “Lomito al Jugo”, strips of thinly cut filet steak, stir-fried in a wok with soy sauce, triple-cooked crispy golden potatoes and seasonal organic vegetables. The secret of this dish’s success is the use of modern techniques to extract maximum flavor from the ingredients without wasting anything. This is truly a stop not to miss on any culinary tour of Lima.
We hope we have whetted your appetite! If you are ready, pack your bags and sample some of these incredible dishes and restaurants for yourself.