The fine dining scene has exploded in Lima with some of the world’s best restaurants creating a gateway for food-obsessed travelers to make their way into South America. The number of world-class restaurants in Lima is infinite, and when it comes to Peruvian food, you can expect ingredients from every part of the country. Pacific seafood and ceviche, myriad species of Andean potatoes, stir-fried beef, stuffed peppers, … and much, much more. The culinary capital of South America, Lima offers an incredible variety of gastronomic delights. Here are just some of the best places to eat in Lima.
Enjoy a top-quality, avant-garde dining experience at Central restaurant. The food at Central defines chef Virgilio Martinez Veliz’s concept of Peruvian fusion cuisine. This very chic restaurant, Central in Lima continues to earn international recognition for its innovation, unique flavors, and approach to Peruvian cooking. It is no surprise that Martinez’s “office” resembles a laboratory with herbs, spices, essences, a collection of books, and even a whiteboard to scribe the ideas that become his culinary masterpieces. He also has an organic garden on-site to garnish and flavor his creations.
A popular spot for locals, El Muelle offered a wide selection of seafood dishes with plenty of authentic, and classic ceviches. Far different from the usual ceviches, and amazing seafood dishes, the traditional Peruvian ceviche doesn’t even taste like fish! It is clean with Leche de Tigre fusing the fish for a refreshing flavor. El Muelle arguably serves the best ceviche in Lima.
Since 2008, Mayta has evolved into a top restaurant in Lima. The name Mayta comes from the indigenous language, Aymara, meaning “noble land”. An homage to Peru and its incredible biodiversity, Mayta represents the best of Peruvian cuisine. Led by chef Jaime Pesaque, the menu covers some traditional Peruvian staples, like ceviche, but also expands into international territories. Besides ceviche, try the arroz con pato, rice with duck, a staple of Northern Peru, or risotto de chupe, a risotto with the flavoring of an Arequipa favorite, spicy shrimp stew. Mayta also has one of the best pisco bars in Lima. Try the classic pisco sour, a Chilcano, or any number of specialties of the house.
Tanta makes a presence with restaurants in every major part of the city. I know it’s a “chain” but the food tasted too good to leave it out. Their menu covers the Peruvian classics with plenty of options from soups to entrees and everything in between. Try the Tacu Tacu a Lo Pobre. Think of it as a Peruvian country fried steak with a sunny-side-up egg over beans and rice with a sweet and sour tomato sauce all paired with fried banana. A deeply satisfying dish that gave a firm crunch from the steak with the wonderfully seasoned beans and rice taking center stage.
Maido restaurant, Lima, by acclaimed chef Mitsuharu Tsumura is one of the best restaurants in all of Peru. This restaurant has the Japanese influence in Peruvian cuisine on full display. Some of the best sushi in Lima is on offer, and Maido makes use of fresh ingredients from the sea using Japanese techniques and Peruvian flavors. A very popular dish at Maido, tiradito, is a favorite for Lima’s residents. While the main ingredients are quite simple, thinly sliced fish and the sauce make this dish exquisite. An acidic blend with a touch of spice, the tiradito sauce perfectly complements the fish. Adventurous diners can also try the tasting menu for a wide variety of Peruvian and Japanese flavors. Nigiris, seafood stew, guinea pig, and leche de tigre are some of the possible bites on the tasting menu.
Astrid & Gaston, or Astrid y Gaston, is among Lima’s top dining options. Perhaps the best way to understand the restaurant is to know more about its creators, famous Peruvian chefs Astrid Gutsche and Gaston Acurio. Acurio left law school in his third year of study to pursue his real passion: food. He and Astrid met while he was studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and they moved to Peru to open a French restaurant. However, they could not deny the unique spices, products, and techniques that Peru has to offer. They swapped the cream and butter for combinations of aguaymanto (goldenberry), ají amarillo (spicy yellow pepper), Peruvian native quinoa, and more. Today, Acurio has become a voice of Peruvian culture, cuisine, and biodiversity. Today, he is the owner of 11 restaurants and chains in cities across the world, such as Miami, Paris, and Doha, Qatar.
Isolina is one of the best restaurants in Barranco, Lima’s bohemian neighborhood. One of the best traditional Peruvian restaurants, Isolina revives techniques and flavors long lost to time.
Best known for their stews, chilcanos, and old tavern feel Isolina’s chef, José del Castillo, followed in his mother’s footsteps to create his own restaurant. His mother, Isolina Vargas, was the proud restaurateur of La Red, a staple of Lima’s culinary scene from 1981 to 2009. Castillo opened Isolina in her honor, reviving recipes of Lima’s past. Dishes such as cau cau con sangrecita, a tripe and potato stew with blood sausage, and guiso de mollejas, a chicken sweetbread stew, are among the unique options at Isolina. Fans of more typical food options can try their version of lomo saltado, a beef stir-fry, or seco de asado de tira, a cilantro and beef stew. Keep in mind the main dishes are massive, with plenty to share between 3 people.
It is evident that to chef and restauranteur Gaston Acurio, a restaurant is much more than dining. It’s a social and cultural reflection of everything that comes before creating each dish: from the fishermen’s daily catch to the farmers who nurture and harvest produce to the chef who lovingly prepares each meal to the waiter who charismatically presents it to you. Savor the path of production and reciprocity at La Mar. La Mar Cevichería is Acurio’s proposal for internationalizing Peruvian cuisine via its national dish: ceviche. Acurio is working on conquering the North American palate and has opened La Mar franchises in California and Florida. In the Lima restaurant, one can expect to enjoy no less than top-quality food, given Acurio’s reputation. Clients can enjoy healthy portions of ceviche or a sampler of creative approaches to the traditional Peruvian causa, a mashed potato casserole layered with seafood, topped with sauces, spiced with ajís and flavored with local herbs, over a casual atmosphere. Contrast your acidic dishes with the robust taste of chocolate-lucuma cake or compliment it with a tangy mango-passionfruit sorbet.
Acclaimed chef Rafael Osterling created a cozy, open restaurant right in the heart of Miraflores known as El Mercado, or the market in English. The chef’s vision for this restaurant was to create an ample, open environment and maximize counter space, emulating a real market. The design creates a friendly environment where diners can easily approach and access the preparation areas. This restaurant has become a lunchtime niche where one can escape and enjoy a wide range of dishes ranging from the traditional to the creative. Try Osterling’s sushi-inspired causa. Ignite your appetite with an array of ceviches or something a little more exotic like the Pulpo a La Parrilla, grilled octopus served with mushrooms, native potatoes, and parsley sauce. Although El Mercado does an exemplary job on seafood preparation, rest assured you can find pasta and rice dishes as well as soups and salads.
The best spot for chifa in Lima, Madam Tusan offers high-quality Peruvian-Chinese cuisine. This restaurant in Lima introduces its guests to a unique facet of Peru’s history: Chinese immigration. Thousands of Chinese workers migrated to Peru, primarily during the nineteenth century. Along with them, they brought their cooking techniques and some key flavors that they then combined with the native ingredients across Peru. Chifa cuisine was born out of this collision of cultures and is a main staple for many Peruvians to this day. Known for their large portions to share, between two or three people, chifas are a common place to find large families gathered on weekends or for special occasions. Visitors to Lima can experience this cuisine for themselves with a visit to Madam Tusan. With an extensive menu, there is something for every palate. Nevertheless, begin with one of their dim sum platters for small appetizer bites. Next, try one of their chaufa dishes, fried rice with various meats and vegetables mixed in, or a house specialty like la plancha taypá, a mix of meats, seafood, and vegetables.
Huaca Pucllana Restaurant is located next to an ancient ceremonial pyramid called Huaca Pucllana. It was constructed around 500 CE by the Lima Culture (200-700 CE). At night, this standing memory of the past is lighted to illuminate the unearthed adobe structures. The Huaca Pucllana restaurant leases space and donates a portion of the proceeds to maintenance and research at the ruins. Huaca Pucllana has been at the top of Lima’s best dining options not only for its outstanding archeological views but also for the exceptional quality of its food. The Huaca Pucllana kitchen stays true to its location: founded on the timeless wisdom of the many faces of Peruvian people. This restaurant embraces classic regional dishes while elevating them to gourmet standards.
Love is the theme echoed in the romantic presentation of food served at Cala. The design of this seaside restaurant is itself a testament to the open and vast presence of the ocean that stirs before it. Its spacious terrace allows diners to enjoy its charm with the caress of the Pacific Ocean breeze. The multi-ambient architecture with terrace, bar-lounge, main dining hall, and private den, make Cala right for any occasion, day or night. The contemporary Peruvian cuisine at Cala alludes to Mediterranean sentiments and Oriental nostalgia. To exemplify this complex flavor try the Chita Crocante (Crusted Thai-style snapper) prepared in coconut milk-basil reduction and served with prawns and a side of coconut rice. Or order from the Love is Sharing menu and try the Sobre Dosis, varied ceviches to share between 3-5 people. Don’t think you have only to eat seafood if you dine at Cala since the Pasta and Rice and Meat Lovers menus are also available. Those with an insatiable sweet tooth fear-not, as decadent dessert options such as the delightful traditional Suspiro Limeño, served with chirimoya foam, guanabana sorbet, and aguaymanto are available.
Every new deluxe hotel requires a chef of equal caliber to garnish its reputation. In this case, celebrity chef Rafael Piqueras Bertie became the restaurant face of the Westin in San Isidro. Located on the first floor of the elegant hotel is Maras, Piqueras’ flagship restaurant named after the famous Maras salt mines near Cusco. Maras Restaurant’s contemporary design and multiple ambiances give plenty of room to accommodate dining desires. Check out the bar area, the open terrace, principal dining hall, or dine privately at the chef’s table. Enjoy a treat from the Rice and Pasta menu and try delicate yet imposing arroz negro, juicy black rice with calamari, and grilled clams seasoned with dashes of saffron and smoked sweet Spanish paprika. Alternatively, try the famous cola de buey, oxtail cylinders with sautéed spinach, mashed potatoes, and veggies with the essence of lemon verbena. Save room for dessert! There is a wide range of tasty sweets that will entertain your taste buds and feast your eyes.
When it comes to trying the most typical Peruvian drinks, the Antigua Taberna El Queirolo is the place where you want to go. With traditional music, good service, and the best piscos right from the famous cellar El Queirolo, you can live a proper Peruvian tavern experience.