Peruvian food is considered by many to be the best South American cuisine. I agree. That should make Lima the culinary capital of South America by default. With lots of new, highly acclaimed restaurants that have sprung up since my last visit, I wanted to give some of them a try. I was given a list of great restaurants in Lima by my Peruvian friend Katy but unfortunately only made it to two of them. Even without the chance to make a dent in my list, I can still say Lima has some of the best food in the world. I would be happy to go back just to hang out and eat.
I never made it to the first restaurant on my list. Punto Azul is famous for ceviche, and nobody should visit Lima without trying ceviche. Katy told me to go to one of their branches before noon or else it would be impossible to get a table. I should’ve listened. I showed up around 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon at their Miraflores location and there were at least 20 people waiting outside. Clearly, Punto Azul is THE place to go for ceviche. I hope to be able to visit one day.
The next restaurant is a sandwich place called La Lucha. They have a few locations. I loved my first sandwich so much I stopped into another branch when I walked past by chance. Service was friendly and speedy at both locations, and the food is priced fairly.
The first sandwich I had was their signature La Lucha. It had beef and Edam cheese and I opted to add a fried egg, spicy sauce, bacon, and onions. I got a cremoso de fresa con leche (strawberry and milk smoothie). Pure heaven.
On my second visit, I ordered El Preferido (steak, cheese, and avocado), fries (they claim to have the best Peru), and a vanilla milkshake. Just as delicious as the first sandwich.
None of the restaurants on Katy’s list were near Plaza Mayor, so I had to chance it for lunch. I found a lunch special at Altar Mayor and sat down to a surprisingly delicious meal. The starter was ceviche pescado (Fish Ceviche). The main dish was tacu tacu de mariscos (seafood on a bed of rice topped with a special sauce). In addition, service was good though a bit slow, and they had free wifi.
On my last night in Lima, I went to a Chinese-Peruvian fusion restaurant called Madam Tusan. It turned out to be one of the best dinner choices I have ever made. First of all, there was a lot of thought put into the interior.
The menu had too many choices so I asked the waiter for his recommendations for a starter and a main meat dish. For the starter, I had the asu mai dim sum (spicy dumplings with shrimp, ham, and vegetables).
I chose the lomito saltado Tusan (a Chinese take on the traditional Peruvian dish Lomo Saltado) served with thin flour tortillas. I washed it all down with a pisco sour de maracuyá (passionfruit). I honestly would have been happy testing all of their choices of dim sum. It was a worthwhile experience.
Did I have a bad meal in Lima? Yes. There is a street in Miraflores called Calle de las Pizzas. All of the restaurants are geared towards tourists and serve traditional Peruvian food – and pizzas. I sat down at one of the restaurants after being drawn in by a reasonably priced ceviche. It was below average. Try to avoid this area if you want traditional Peruvian food. I don’t know how the pizzas are. Let me know.
Finally, I normally would never endorse a big American fast food chain, but I have to make an exception here. Starbucks in Lima had a mango y maracuyá frappuccino (mango and passionfruit). Definitely worth a try.