For a lot of visitors to Peru, Lima is the gateway to archaeological sites, Inca artefacts or the mighty Amazon Jungle. Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Colca canyon and the Amazon basin are the main focus of many a traveller to Peru. Most people will arrive in the capital of Lima via the Jorge Chavez International airport, and head out to explore the Inca history in all its glory, however Lima is a destination definitely worth hanging around for, for a few days. Its award-winning gastronomy, archaeological sites, and colonial history and near-constant views of the Pacific Ocean make Lima a vibrant introduction to your Peru holiday, and if food is your thing, then it will probably be the highlight of your Peru journey.
Lima’s amazing food scene is no secret, in fact, it has gained international recognition in the gourmet world. While you cannot dine every evening in Latin America’s best restaurant, Maido, or Virgilio Martinez’s award-winning Central, the traditional dishes heralding from the capital will leave you raving about Peruvian food. Whether that be a hole-in-the-wall cevicheria, A traditional picanteria, or one of Lima´s finest restaurants, there literally is a dish for every taste. From signature dishes such as” lomo saltado” beef cuts stir-fried with onions and peppers and served with fried potatoes, “anticuchos”, skewered cow’s heart, or “aji de gallina” shredded chicken in a creamy and mild yellow aji chilli sauce, the jewel in the crown, has to be “ceviche” the raw marinated fish dish or even the vegetarian version of mushroom or mango.
Peru´s diverse geography, brings delectable fruits from the jungle and highlands into Lima markets and restaurants, meaning fresh juices are abundant. Amazonian fruits like camu camu and aguaje, are extremely rich in vitamins A and C, while the Andean region tickles our tastebuds with creamy fruits like lucuma and chirimoya. For those who prefer a cocktail, sip on a frothy Pisco Sour or a fizzy Chilcano pisco and ginger ale, the signature beverages of night-time Lima. The craft beer scene is booming in Lima and you can enjoy a variety of real ales brewed in the capital as well as other parts of Peru.
Nothing defines Peruvian cuisine like a fresh plate of ceviche, so a visit to a Lima cevicheria is a must do on a visit to the capital. A mix of fish, seafood, onions, chili peppers, marinated in lemon, served with sweet potato can be enjoyed dish in any of the city’s restaurants, but for guaranteed quality, seek out Pescados Capitales, which is renowned for its delectable flavours, freshness of its ingredients and top seafood cuisine.
Top -end eatery La Mar, owned by acclaimed chef Gastón Acurio, is expensive, but lives up to its name, with the northern Peruvian delicacy ceviche de conchas negras and even vegetarian ceviches on the menu. For a truly authentic experience, eat lunch at Chez Wong, a restaurant that counted Anthony Bourdain as a fan.
At the opposite end of the scale, we have the incredible markets of Lima, where all of the fresh produce from the four corners of Peru, arrives to supply the capital with abundant fresh and sometimes unique ingredients.
Just a few blocks away from the Plaza de Armas, this multi-storey market offers incredible insight into the daily shopping of Limeños. The main building is organized by sections ranging from animal products to clothes. Those looking to cook with the day’s freshest ingredients will have aisle after aisle of products to choose from. Meanwhile, those who prefer to wander around will be gifted with unusual sights such as pig’s heads, bins of shellfish and bags of quinoa. The streets surrounding the official market building are even more wonderful; filled with cookware, electronics and shoes, as well as enthusiastic salesmen selling their wares. Don’t miss out on the market’s food stalls for a cheap, authentic Peruvian meal.
Terminal Pesquero de Villa Maria del Triunfo
Lima’s largest fish market opens before dawn and closes after 8am, making for an exciting dash of seafood vendors, restauranteurs and locals looking for the day’s catch. Terminal Pesquero is filled with hundreds of stalls selling fresh seafood from the impressive bounty of Peru’s coastline. All types of sea life imaginable is on display. Those adventurous enough to make their own ceviche can have their fish cleaned and cut by the expert filleters. This spectacle of expertly stripping flesh from scales on its own, is worth a visit. Even without purchasing anything, visitors reach a newfound appreciation of the incredible freshness and attention to detail that goes into making Lima’s famous ceviche.
Mercado de Surquillo
Surquillo is one of the best food markets in Lima. The larger No.1 Market houses food stalls among its array of goods. Seafood is highly prepared for a cheap price, as diners can get an inexpensive two-course menu. The first course (entrada) is often a choice of ceviche or soup, and the second course (segundo) is fried meat or fish with rice. Filling and incredibly fresh, the menu is a delectable way to share the space with market workers and Limeños on their lunch break. For another incredible option, visit the adjoining Calle Narcisco de La Colina, a designated ‘gastronomic boulevard’ filled with small stalls of delicious treats.
Now its time to roll up those sleeves and put to use the impressive ingredients from the market. Your expert chef will teach you from scratch how to prepare, cook and ultimately savour the deliciousness of what the Peruvian ingredients have to offer. Marvel your friends back home, with your Peruvian culinary knowledge, brought direct from the capital, Lima. The perfect memory of your Peruvian vacation, so you can re-live the Peruvian gastronomic experience and wonderful cuisine of this unique and incredible country for many years to come.
Combine these immersive experiences with our half day market, fruit tasting and cooking class for the complete gastronomic experience!