A Foodie Guide to Peru
Known as the culinary capital of South America, vibrant Peru is food heaven – from street stalls to fine dining, the country offers delectable cuisine to awaken every palate. Peru’s eclectic gastronomy is unique in that it mixes European and Asian influences with authentic homegrown staples dating back to the Incan Empire. In fact, the Peruvian food scene has become internationally renowned in recent years, with travellers flocking to sample traditional dishes like ceviche and salchipapas, as well as dynamic fusion food concocted from a melting pot of heritages. So, whether you’re a seasoned visitor or a first-timer, you’ll be sure to enjoy new flavours, indulgent ingredients and an extra helping of spice. Feast your eyes upon some of the region’s most mouth-watering dishes, as we take you through our foodie guide to Peru.
Must-try Peruvian dishes
This seafood delicacy is Peru’s national dish, so it’s a must-try when visiting the region. Both nutritious and delicious, ceviche is low in fat, and can be eaten cooked or raw depending on your preference. Ceviche brings together the roots of authentic Peruvian cuisine – the seaside and mountains – with fresh fish meeting the Andean-born potato. The dish is traditionally comprised of fresh fish, lime, lemon, onion, and chilli pepper, but individual chefs will likely add their own twist. Corn and creamy sweet potatoes are generally eaten as an accompaniment, with corn kernels sprinkled on top for added crunch.
One for the adventurous foodie! You may recoil at the thought of trying this unusual delicacy, but it’s one of the top dishes in Peru, and has been a staple of the Andean diet for thousands of years. Guinea Pig, or ‘cuy,’ is traditionally stuffed with herbs, then spit-roasted and served with potatoes, but can also be deep-fried until crispy, known as cuy chactado.
Staple ingredients in Peru
Despite the diversity of Peru’s culinary scene, certain key ingredients serve as a foundation in many of the country’s favourite meals. Potatoes originated in Peru before being introduced to the rest of the world, and an estimated 3,800 varieties grow in the country’s soil. Throughout history they’ve been a crucial staple of the Peruvian diet, and today appear in everything from salchipapas – a scrumptious street food delicacy consisting of pan-fried beef sausages and potato fries – to carapulcra chinchana, a delicious potato stew bursting with flavour and seasoned with chilli peppers, peanut butter and spices.
Another popular ingredient in Peruvian dishes is the protein-packed quinoa. A favourite with healthy eaters across the world, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids and is naturally gluten-free, but it’s been cultivated in Peru long before it became internationally lauded as a superfood. It’s commonly found in quinoa atamalada, a flavourful stew, and is also used frequently as an accompaniment for meat, fish and salad dishes.
Choclo, otherwise known as Peruvian or Cusco corn, is an Andean-grown crop that dates back to the Incas, and is a staple ingredient across many of the region’s dishes. It has a starchy, creamy texture and a slightly nutty flavour, and is favoured by chefs in restaurants across Peru. Try it in choclo al comino, made with corn kernels, butter, lime juice and cumin, or Andean corn casserole, loaded with cheese. Delicious!
Fine dining in Peru
Peru is known for its fine dining and offers a wealth of incredible restaurants to visit during your trip. Traditional meets trendy in restaurants across the nation, and there are plenty of upscale spots to try. In the Inca capital of Cusco, visit Cicciolina, a romantic choice boasting delicious tapas, lunchtime specials, and one of the region’s best wine selections. For fabulous steaks and cocktails in Cusco, try Uchu Peruvian Steakhouse, while in Iquitos, enjoy beautiful views and a unique dining experience aboard the Al Frio y al Fuego restaurant, floating on the Itaya River.
Fine dining restaurants in Lima
Although food is phenomenal across the country, Lima has the edge when it comes to fine dining cuisine in Peru – in fact, the region is home to two of the ‘10 best restaurants in the world.’ Central restaurant in Miraflores comes in at number 6, and offers an incredible 17-course tasting menu that spans the biodiversity of Peru’s culinary landscape, with delicious produce from the mountains and sea. The excellent cuisine is elevated by exceptional wine pairings or a delicious cocktail or two.
At number 7 in the world is Maido, also named as the number one restaurant in all of Latin America. With chef Mitsuharu ‘Micha’ Tsumura at the helm, Maido serves Nikkei cuisine, a spectacular fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine, promising fresh fish complemented with bursts of lively citrus. With stellar reviews from critics around the globe, the menu is sure to delight any seafood lover.
Tempted to try Peruvian cuisine for yourself? Start planning your trip to Peru today with Discover Your South America, building your holiday according to your tastes and interests. Otherwise, call us toll-free on 1 866 978 7398 (Canada and USA) or 080 8189 0438 (UK) to talk to an expert, and Discover Your South America with Surtrek!Alternatively, keep reading about Peru on our blog by clicking here.