Although officially in autumn still, this week in Lima, Peru, started out grey and reminded us that winter is around the corner. That is not necessarily a bad thing! The restaurant scene in Lima gets even busier as the locals no longer spend their weekends at the beach resort in the south. It is time to catch up with family and friends over a nice meal, and during a cold winter day (well, it is all relative since winter in Lima is low 60s), there is nothing better than a nice chupe de camarones, or shrimp soup! This famous dish from the city of Arequipa is a creamy chowder, that packs enough spice to warm you up on a cool day. What are the top restaurants in Lima where you should try it? Most cebicherias serve this wonderful soup, but we have a few recommendations for you:
EL RINCONCITO DE TIABAYA
Founded back in the 50s, this traditional picantería is part of the history of traditional food from Arequipa in Lima. Don’t expect anything fancy, just outstanding food.
Jr. San Miguel 962, Surquillo.
Although this restaurant is famous for the Peruvian-Italian fusion, their Chupe de Camarones is one of the best in the city. It isn’t cheap, but the quality of the products and taste make it well worth it.
Malecón de la Marina 526, Santa Cruz, Miraflores.
Arequipan food is one of the tastiest in all of Peru and this restaurant specializes exclusively in this type of cuisine. There's no wondering why it made our short list. While there, also try the Rocoto Relleno!
Av. Aviación 4907, Surco
Av. Federico Villarreal 360, Miraflores
An excellent restaurant in Miraflores, Lima: ambiance, chill music, cocktails and spectacular food - Matria has it all. This hidden gem in Miraflores serves dishes elaborated with local products that are combined to highlight an array of delicate flavors. The name, Matria, comes from Madre Tierra, or Mother Earth, which reflects the vision of chef Arlette Eulert to nurture the connection between the gourmet dishes served and the origin of the ingredients.
The design is cozy and incredibly inviting and the service was impeccable. Many items on the menu boast a unique fusion of local, Peruvian ingredients with Indian spices. One of the best plates we ordered were the scallops dressed with yellow curry and crunchy quinoa (pictured top left). The flavors and textures complemented each other perfectly. Another favorite were the seared salmon slices with avocado and jalapeño (pictured bottom left).
Matria was a wonderful surpise, and the consensus among the group was that the variety of dishes and combinations were so expertly executed that it's worth ordering many dishes to share - and don't forget the dessert, as you surely won't be disappointed.
If you're looking for an experience that will take you to several of the best restaurants in Lima in just one day, check out our Lima Day Tour or our Lima Night Tour.
Peru is still quite a traditional place where family is at the center of daily life. Every Friday, my husband's family gets together at my mother-in-law's house for a three-course meal prepared by the family matriarch, Nelly. After all, what brings people together better or more closely than a delicious, home-cooked meal? Her mouth-watering ají de gallina, a spicy chicken stew, is just about as close to soul food as I've tasted while living in Lima. Fortunately for you all, she's been generous enough to share her secret recipe.
Ají de gallina - Spicy Chicken Stew
Place chicken breast with skin, carrot, celery stalk, laurel leaf and 1/2 onion in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Simmer on medium heat until chicken is fully cooked. Strain broth and place chicken breast back into the stock until it cools. Once cooled, shred chicken and set aside.
In a small pot, bring mirasol chilies to a boil and then remove from heat. Separate the skin from the chilies and put the chilies in a blender with seedless yellow chili pepper and vegetable oil. Blend until smooth and set aside.
Remove crusts from bread slices and soak bread in evaporated milk until they begin to come apart.
In a saucepan, sauté 1 chopped onion and garlic cloves until the onions are transparent. Add blended chili sauce, salt and pepper to taste, cumin and oregano and let simmer until there is a thin layer of oil covering the mixture. Add chicken stock. Add bread, condensed milk and walnuts and stir over medium heat until the mixture becomes thick.
Add shredded chicken and Parmesan cheese.
Serve with rice and garnish with 1/2 hard boiled egg and 1 olive.
If you're interested in trying as many authentically Peruvian dishes as you can while in Lima, check out our food tour.
There is no shortage of excellent restaurants in Lima to choose from and IK is certainly a unique option. Open for less than a year, the creative fusion of flavors, innovative design and commitment to sustainability keep the place packed.
We tried several dishes while we were there to get a real feel for the place and we were not disappointed. From the Amazonian cebiche, delicate grouper and the juicy angus beef to the purple corn and quinoa beer, we were well impressed. The artfully crafted desserts (pictured above) were especially fascinating. The tangy, lemon cream filled chocolate (left) introduced our palates to a new combination of flavors, while the chocolate and lucuma imitation seeds buried in cacao "soil" (right) really drove home the concept a restaurant committed to nature and the fruit it brings us.
The story of this restaurant is even more interesting. This project was the idea of beloved Peruvian chef, Ivan Kisic, who unfortunately passed away in a car accident before the restaurant opened. At the time he was involved in other restaurants, such as Cala and La 73, however, IK was his brainchild. His family and culinary team decided to go ahead with the plans and open the restaurant to make Kisic's dream a reality and allow his legacy to live on.
Bon appétit and cheers to Kisic's wonderful concept.
Since moving to Lima, one of the things we try to do every week is include quinoa in one of our meals. Lucas and I love to tour restaurants and try every of variation of the dish, however, our favorite is innovating in our own kitchen. Identifying the next superfood is all the rage now, and personally, this versatile seed tops my list. This pseudocereal is packed with protein, calcium and iron, among other nutrients, and is absolutely delicious in any form - breakfast, side dish, main course or even dessert. It's one of those foods that just lends itself to experimentation. So without any further ado, I present to you our latest creation: Quinoa Stuffed Peppers.
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Bring quinoa to a boil in water with vegetable stock and let simmer for 20 minutes. Drain quinoa set aside.
Cut the tops off of the peppers and clean seeds out. Precook peppers 15-20 minutes at 430°F (220°C). The peppers should be soft, but not so soft that they lose their shape.
In a saucepan, cook onions and garlic with olive oil until golden. Add salt, pepper, peanuts and quinoa to the saucepan and mix well. Add cilantro, cream and cheese and mix. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Stuff peppers with quinoa mix and top with the rest of the pepperjack cheese. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
The Barranco district of Lima is home to some of the most enchanting corners of the city. If you are looking to try a locally brewed beer, The Barranco Beer Company should be on your list. On tap they have an ale and a lager, and for the more adventurous, they offer a variety of beer-based cocktails.
Lucas and I wandered in off the street after perusing the area for new stops to incorporate on our evening food tour. Whether we end up adding it to one of our current tours or not, it will absolutely be on our recommendation list from now on. Sometimes you just want something other than Cusqueña, so Ricardo, the bartender, filled us in on the brewery's future plans of possibly incorporating a selection of beers brewed from quinoa and other local products.
Another plus is that this is also going to be a great place to watch the World Cup games. They've installed a massive screen on the wall and there is more than enough room to get a good group of friends together to cheer on your favorite teams. ¡Salud!
Sam & Lucas take on the city
Sam and Lucas are an American-Peruvian couple who have run the top tour in Lima for the past six years. It’s no coincidence that the best activities in Lima have to do with Peru’s amazing cuisine. This Kansas City girl and Lima native have lived all over the world in their corporate past lives but they traded in the daily grind for sharing their love of good food, showing off the city’s secrets and meeting awesome people along the way.
The ultimate food and city tour
No planning needed because we've already done the work for you. Experience the best of Lima in one day.