Lima, Peru is a city that’s become synonymous with great food–and for good reason. There seems to be something delicious nearly no matter where you wander in the city. Here are our favorite places to eat in Lima whether you’re looking for a beloved street snack, an outstanding bargain lunch, or a no-holds-barred dive into the most celebrated plates from Peru’s most celebrated chefs.
Where to eat in Lima: budget-friendly finds
You don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy great grub in Lima. Here’s where to eat in Lima if you’re looking for budget bites.
Set lunch menus, which normally include a starter, a main course, and (maybe) a dessert, are very common in Peru. In Lima, finding a lunch menu (called menu del dia in Spanish) that’s high quality at a low price can be tricky. The best value set menu lunch we found is at a restaurant in Barranco called Arlotia where Basque-influenced food is made with love and served in a sun-filled dining room with mismatched chairs and a homey vibe. Their set lunch menu changes daily and includes your choice of two entrée options (vegetable soup or potato salad with asparagus, for example) and two main course options (pork leg or fish fillet, for example). It’s consistently great food at a great price and the restaurant’s tiny bar also turns out good cocktails. Order something made with the Basque booze the owners keep on hand.Al Toke Pez is a hole in the wall in the Surquillo area that’s become an institution in Lima as a place to get the city’s best leche de tigre–which is the citrusy, oniony, spicy, salty juice left behind after you marinate ceviche. People line up here to get styrofoam cups full of leche de tigre garnished with a bit of ceviche, sliced red onion, and a few strips of lightly fried fish. This bracing, tender, crunchy, slurpy delight is sublime and many locals also consider it the best cure for a hangover, fyi. Feeling peckish as you explore the city? Head to any one of the La Lucha Sangucheria Criollo outlets scattered around Lima for excellent sandwiches piled with tender slow-cooked pork. They also make excellent fries and special dishes like pork and chicken cooked “al cilindro” for juicy tender perfection. Happily, La Lucha has been expanding, so you can now enjoy delicious sandwiches, fries, and more in Trujillo and Arequipa in Peru and in Bogota, Colombia and Santiago, Chile as well.
Whenever we see Mexican food offered south of Mexico we are automatically skeptical. However, Limeños have developed quite a taste for Mexican food which has sparked better and better Mexican restaurants. For a budget-friendly fix of pretty legit burritos and tacos, head to Burrito Bar in the Barranco neighborhood. The tortillas are homemade, the guacamole is fresh, the sales are actually spicy and the fillings (carnitas, barbacoa, and more) are tender and tasty.Peruvians love Asian food and you’ll see Chinese restaurants (called chifas) all over Lima (not to mention the country’s signature mash-up of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine called Nikkei–more on that below). Chifa Chung Yion in the Barranco neighborhood offers an enormous array of delicious dishes in big portions at small prices. Expect a packed house and a line out front on weekends. Visit the corner of Avenida Grau and Avenida San Antonio in the Barranco neighborhood and you will likely encounter the Yuquitas Martin cart parked on the sidewalk. Here you can score a paper bag stuffed with freshly deep-fried yuquitas which are like rectangular beignets (you can even get them dusted with powdered sugar) made from a yucca-based dough. Yuquitas are a beloved street snack and available all over Lima, but the ones from this cart are particularly light and fresh and not too greasy and just delicious.
Where to eat in Lima: mid-range meals
Here’s where to eat in Lima if you have a few extra soles to toss around.
There are plenty of seafood-centric restaurants in Lima, but only Canta Rana combines an antique tile floor, wooden booths, and rustic tablecloths with walls decorated with soccer paraphernalia and pictures of the (many) celebrities who’ve eaten there. Ambiance is nice, but how’s the food? Our tiradito (basically sashimi ceviche) was practically vibrating with citrus and chili goodness and the fish was melt-in-your mouth tender. Our chaufa mariscos (seafood fried rice) was delicious and packed with lots of various types of seafood. Insider Tip: A spin-off of Canta Rana is located a few blocks away from the original where the son of Canta Rana’s owner has created an open-air lounge in a corner of a small outdoor neighborhood market called CC El Capilla where he sells a pared-down selection of Canta Rana dishes at slightly lower prices in a hipper atmosphere.In 2016, Peruvian chef Moma Adrianzar opened Restaurante Jeronimo after he returned to Peru following years of work in kitchens abroad. The restaurant (part bistro, part tapas bar) was created in partnership with Adrianzar’s Mexican sous chef. An international menu, many items cooked in a Josper oven (a grill-oven combo that’s become a trendy tool), and very creative cocktails ensure that there’s something for everyone. Expect slow-cooked smoked pork chops, burgers, green curry prawns, burrata pizza, pork shoulder lasagna, and much more. It’s a bustling place that attracts families, young couples, and co-workers and it’s usually packed, so make a reservation. And we hear a brunch menu is coming soon… Created by the same team behind Jeronimo, Chinga Tu Taco (we won’t translate the name because it’s naughty) is located down the same street in Miraflores. It’s a casual indoor/outdoor ode to classic Mexican favorites where the micheladas are legit, the tortillas are handmade, and the salsas are great from mild to truly spicy. Choose tacos, nachos, burritos, or even a tostada topped with zingy ceviche and enjoy.
Where to eat in Lima: Worthy splurges
Hey, you’re in one of the food capitals of the world. Here’s where to really go for it if you can.We don’t know how many plates of ceviche we ate during our many, many months of travel in Peru but the only one we can still taste is the ceviche we had at La Mar Cebicheria (#13 on the 2021 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants): simple, beyond fresh, perfectly balanced. Choose from more than half a dozen styles of ceviche, as well as other raw fish dishes including tiraditos, nigiri, and maki. Peruvian favorites, like causas (terrines of mashed spiced mashed potatoes and fillings), are also on offer and cooked fish and seafood options run the gamut from whole fish to seafood empanadas. And at La Mar you can indulge without guilt. The restaurant, in Miraflores, was created by Peruvian celebrity chef Gaston Acurio as a celebration of sustainable seafood. All fish and seafood are purchased from fisherpeople across the country who practice sustainable fishing, and if a specific type of fish or seafood isn’t available from those vetted sources, it’s taken off the menu until the product becomes available again. Reservations required. Peruvian chef Rafael Osterling made a name for himself with his excellent namesake fine dining restaurant in Lima (see below) and in Bogotá, Colombia. In 2016, he opened Felix Comedor (named after his son) in Lima’s San Isidro neighborhood. It’s a more casual, French bistro concept, but the food, including homemade pasta, steak, duck, and even a Croque monsieur, is still given the Rafael polish. Reservations recommended. Calling all carnivores! Osso Carnicería, in the San Isidro neighborhood, is where lauded Peruvian butcher and cook Renzo Garibaldi practices his passion for raw, hyper-aged, and cooked meats. Beef tartare, meat dry-aged well beyond anything you’ve probably ever eaten, and burgers are all on the menu (and more) along with a great wine list and full bar. It’s a winning combination that put Osso Carniceria at #17 on the 2021 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants. Reservations recommended. Renzo has also opened his take on a fast-food burger joint called Osso Burger. The most famous tasting menu in Peru is served by chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pia León at Central (#1 on the 2021 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants and #4 on the 2021 list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants). Four tasting menus are offered with 12 or 14 courses each which spool out telling a story about the many micro-ecosystems (from the Andes to the Amazon) and ingredients (from algae to tubers) across Peru. Those ingredients are transformed into dishes that provoke pleasure and contemplation. Each plate is also a full-on work of art and the setting and service are both impeccable. Reservations required. Isolina Taberna Peruana was famous with food lovers in Lima long before it made the list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants (it’s at #24 on the 2021 list) thanks to finessed versions of beloved traditional dishes like grandma used to make. This Barranco neighborhood institution is the place to try adventurous dishes like cau cau con sangrecita (Peruvian tripe stew), and pigs’ feet. Or stick with more mainstream favorites like lomo saltado (Peruvian beef stir fry) and sancocho (a meat-veggie-tuber stew). All dishes are meant to be shared family-style in the homey converted two-story house where wood furniture and country chic plates and cutlery add to the welcoming atmosphere. Make a reservation, especially on weekends. Our ala carte meal at Rafael in Lima, which is #20 on the 2021 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants, was a nearly perfect mix of atmosphere (casual, modern decor including a pleasingly rambling collection of modern art) service (attentive but patient waiters with an excellent grasp on the menu), and food including a long list of appetizer and main course specials. The eating started with a basket of chewy bread with topping choices including organic butter, goat cheese cream, and thin slices of mild pastrami pork. We shared a tuna tiradito starter that came already split onto two beautifully presented plates. The sauce was lively and the sliced, raw fish nearly melted in our mouths. The most beautiful plate we ordered was cloud-like gnocchi (all pasta is homemade) in a goat cheese sauce with cherry tomato halves and thinly-sliced radishes. Confit pork came in two luscious squares on a bed of creamed cauliflower. The confit grouper on squid ink rice with scallops and shrimp was the most surprising and satisfying dish – essentially an elegant deconstructed paella. The restaurant’s bar, which features an impressive array of libations including a number of bourbons, offers a tapas menu if you just want to dip a toe. Or just go for it as we did. Reservations required.
If we were only allowed to return to one restaurant in Lima, it would be Mérito. Run by two young Venezuelan chefs, who honed their skills in the kitchen of Central, this place in Barranco is the definition of delicious daring. Our meal included ceviche made with tomate de árbol instead of citrus, tender grilled octopus on a bed of mashed oca (a Peruvian tuber) with a dash of ginger, and boiled choclo (corn) cut into ribs before being reassembled inside the husk, grilled, and served with a sauce of ají amarillo (a local yellow pepper) and queso llanero (farmer’s cheese). Chef Gastón Acurio’s fame began in 1994 when he and his wife, pastry chef Astrid Gutsche, opened Astrid y Gastón in the Miraflores neighborhood in the renovated Casa Moreyra mansion which dates back to the 1700s. Chef Acurio went on to become Peru’s first true celebrity chef and now presides over an international empire of restaurants. Astrid y Gastón, a Relais & Chateaux restaurant, remains a Lima classic (it’s #4 on the 2021 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants) still offering a monumental tasting menu (16 courses!) as well as an ala carte menu. Expect confident and indulgent dishes like sea urchin salad and confit suckling pig and save room for Astrid’s epic desserts all served in the elegant mansion setting. Reservations required. Maido (#2 on the 2021 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants and #7 on the 2021 World’s 50 Best Restaurants list), is helmed by chef Mitsuharu Tsumura who is famous for his mastery of Nikkei cuisine which blends Peruvian and Japanese ingredients and techniques. This seafood-focused restaurant has a sushi bar and an a la carte menu, but the tasting menu is the way to go if you want to see how this chef and his team handle a range of ingredients. The famous fish hot dog course was playful and satisfying and the raw fish courses we had (toro nigiri topped with a quail egg, for example) were outstanding. It must be said, however, that our tasting menu experience felt rushed and disjointed which we’re willing to chalk up to an off night which happens even to the best of them. Reservations required.
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