The Lima Gourmet Tours team has put together a crash course in traditions and ingredients to reveal the secrets behind Peru's outstanding accolades in the kitchen. Peru is a foodie paradise that beckons travelers to come explore the flavors, the fusions and the phenomenal ambience the country provides with a backdrop of thousands of years of culinary creativity. Watch the video to get a feel for the gastronomic legacy in this corner of South America, what dishes you can't miss, and why superfoods are trending as well as what we should really know about them.
Restaurants in Lima add up to tens of thousands of options for dining out in the city with an even larger variety of dishes that are representative of Peruvian traditions, culture and fusions. If you do your research, you can surely narrow the offer down to a few must-visit spots to include in your itinerary. The real doozy, however, is what to order once you square away the reservation and make your way to the restaurant. If you are unfamiliar with Peruvian cuisine, even though you may speak some Spanish, selecting the perfect dishes can be a daunting task. As operators of the highest-ranked food tour in Lima for the past six years, you can imagine that our research and development includes frequent visits to a number of restaurants to try a variety of dishes so that we can give the best recommendations to our clients. We would like to shed some light on the results of all that tough work by sharing our favorite dishes in Lima and where to find them.
This is likely a restaurant that you’ll find on many lists and for good reason. The laid-back ambience and cozy, fresh style of the place will lure you in, but the food and drinks will keep you there. If you are a seafood lover, you simply cannot go wrong booking a table here.
What to order: Pulpo a la parrilla (grilled octopus) – The octopus is marinated in a secret concoction and then cooked to perfection on the grill, served smoking hot and accompanied by grilled cherry tomatoes, potatoes and mushrooms. Amazing. An added bonus for the chefs among you, if you sit bar-side, you can watch the guys work their magic and see how it’s done.
Amaz has won a number of awards from the food to the interior design, both which so elegantly reflect a refined Amazonian style. What’s more is that the restaurant is fully committed to sustainable consumption, so you know you’re participating in a dining experience that has been fully thought through.
What to order: Lomo saltado amazónico (Amazonian stir-fried sirloin steak) – While the classic lomo saltado is one Peru’s flagship dishes representing the Chinese-Peruvian culinary fusion, Amaz gives the dish a unique twist. The original version includes strips of sirloin steak stir-fried with tomatoes, onions, yellow chili pepper and soy sauce, Amaz adds a smoky flavor, sun-dried Amazonian pork called cecina and sweet jungle peppers. The combination of flavors is heavenly.
One of Lima’s most successful newcomers, Jeronimo, introduces the Mexican-Peruvian fusion to the culinary scene. This is a lively spot, great for both lunch and dinner, which has wonderful service, fantastic music and a fun, but chic feeling vibe. All of the dishes are presented beautifully, as works of art and labors of love and the citrus/spicy undertones of the food make the dishes unforgettable.
What to order: Conos de atún (Tuna tartar cones) – When you first read the title of this dish, it may stop you in your tracks; however, it’s totally worth the adventure. The tuna is incredibly fresh and served with a flavorful guacamole, all molded into a delicately crisp cone. So creative and so delicious.
It’s no surprise that Isolina made the list. Ever since the place opened, it’s had lines outside that can wrap around the corner and it made its way on to the list of best restaurants in Latin America. The concept is an old-school tavern that features classic Peruvian dishes that give the feel of home-cooking. This Peruvian soul food induces nostalgia for the locals and provides an insider experience for visitors.
What to order: Seco (Cilantro beef stew) – If you are a cilantro-lover, this dish would be your favorite. While you can find this Peruvian classic on many menus throughout Lima, the preparation of seco at Isolina is impeccable. The beef is so tender that it slides right off the bone allowing you to bathe the meat in the rich, aromatic cilantro stew. It’s just one of those dishes that after eating it, you'll already be contemplating when to organize your next visit for round two.
Av. Hipólito Unánue 203, Miraflores
Tues.-Sun. 12:30 - 5:00 PM
T: +51 (1) 221 1322
Av. La Paz 1079, Miraflores
Mon.-Sun. 12:30 - 11:30 PM
T: +51 (1) 221 9393
Av. La Mar 1209, Miraflores
Tues.-Sat. 1:00 - 3:30 PM / 7:00 - 11:00 PM}
Sun. 1:00 - 4:00 PM
T: +51 (1) 494 7336
Av. San Martin 101, Barranco
Tues.-Sat. 10:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Sun.-Mon. 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
T: +51 (1) 247 5075
Parmesan scallops perfectly illustrate part of Peru's rich culinary history which has been heavily influenced by waves of migrants to the country over centuries. This mouth-watering dish comes from the Italo-Peruvian fusion by incorporating Parmesan cheese and fresh scallops in their shells. This recipe is fast, easy and perfect for the all kinds of get-togethers.
Conchitas a la Parmesana
Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 10 minutes
Fresh scallops in the half shell
Grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400° to broil.
Separate scallops from the shell and rinse well. If desired, also remove red muscle.
Dry the shells and line them on a cookie sheet. Place 1 to 2 scallops on each shell depending on the size of the scallop and shell. To each shell, add a pinch of salt and pepper, a few drops of fresh lime juice and a dollop of butter. Cover each one with grated Parmesan cheese.
Cover with grated parmesan cheese and sprinkle drops of water.
Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.
Serve with slices of lime.
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.
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.
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Things to do in Lima that make people fall in love with the city - that's precisely what we're after. We're Lucas and Sam, a Peruvian-American couple who have run the top tour in Lima for the past 10 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 Lima tours: no planning needed because we've already done the work for you. Prepare to experience the best of Lima.