There is a mixture of ethnic groups, with the most populous being of Italian, Spanish and indigenous descent; the second largest group is the European Peruvian, with Spanish, German, Italian, Croatian, British or French descent, followed by Afro Peruvians descended from people brought over to the Americas as slaves. Jewish, Chinese and Japanese add up to the mix, with the largest Chinese community in Latin America.
Cuisine in Lima has been heavily influenced by both Italian and Chinese immigrants. The international flavours with a Peruvian spin are making Lima the Gastronomical Capital of the Americas.
You can probably spend a month and still not discover everything that Lima has to offer from a culinary experience, but here are few of the ones you might want to try if you’re there for few days:
La Lucha Sanguacheria and El Chinito
Peruvian sandwich food joints, where you can experience a cheap and cheerful combination of your ‘’normal’’ type sandwich blended with Peruvian flavour. You can find them in Kennedy Park or peppered all over Miraflores and other parts of the city. It is not the standard fast food: the plates are delicious and freshly cooked, and you can eat in the shop or carry your food to a park bench. It’s open late, so it’s ideal for a midnight snack. They have a selection of smoothies to die for and I will go with lucuma anytime.
The most popular one is chicharron, Lima -style fried pork sandwich. Lard fried slices of pork are topped with fried sweet potato and salsa criolla (red onion doused in salt, lime juice and a touch of spicy pepper).
With 11 locations around the city, T’anta offers the best Peruvian cuisine experience. Safe to eat, packed with amazing local flavours and mid-ranged priced, you can try the one at the airport, Larcomar mall in Miraflores, San Isidro or the city centre one while you’re exploring Lima. The best place to explore the local food, ceviche or anticuchos de Corazon (braised beef heart), sopas (soup), aji de gallina ( chicken stew that comes in a somewhat spicy and bright yellow pepper sauce), or lomo saltado ( the most popular at Tanta’s made of delicious beef and vegetable stir fry in soy sauce and served atop of hot French fries along with rice). The juices are some of the best in town, read more if you’re into fruits and fresh juice in my previous article. I highly recommend their pisco sour (an alcoholic cocktail with liqueur, citrus juice, egg white and bitter) and Cusquena or Callar Cerveza (local beers). The desserts are just delicious, maybe you can try a little bit of everything, depending on your time and budget.
El Tio Mario (Uncle Mario) in Barranco
Anticuchos (chicken, beef and cows’ hearts kebabs), causas (potato salad) and other Peruvian classics in a restaurant that started life as a food trolley, with one of the best chicha morada (purple corn juice) in town and delicious Peruvian desserts.
Amaz in Miraflores
For an authentic Amazon cuisine, for the ones who can’t make it to the Amazon, you can try here amazing juane (banana leaves wrapped rice ball) and tacacho (salty mashed boiled plantains). Always accompany your tacacho with Amazon’s exotic fruits like quito-quito (a mixture of apple and orange taste) or camu-camu.
Those are to name a few for your 2 days stay in Lima. You can try the classic Peruvians all over Peru and you will find the flavours slightly varying from Cusco to Arequipa and into the Amazon. You might also want to try:
Lomo Saltado can be also made with chicken (pollo saltado) or alpaca (alpaca saltada). Some restaurants serve the vegetarian saltado, with soy meat or mushrooms.
Cuy al horno
Guinea pig stuffed with herbs, baked and served with head and all, served more in Cusco to curious tourists.
Stuffed red pepper with meat and veggies and then cooked and often served with French fries.
Trucha is Spanish for trout and you can have it all over the country. There are several versions of the dish: you can have it grilled, fried, or sautéed, but the fried one is probably the best.
Palta a la Reina
Chichen, potatoes and cheese stuffed avocado, simply delicious.
If you go for hotels, keep in mind that hotel accommodation in South America includes breakfast and the majority of them are fresh, abundant and will set you up for the day ahead.
If you like spiced food, try the complementary types of salsa that always come with the meals.
It all depends on how adventurous your palate is. Even if you’re not into guinea pigs or cow’s heart, a chicken stew or stuffed avocado can definitely be on your list. If nothing can satisfy you, you can always go with the roast chicken and fries, with salad, that’s always a favourite especially for kids.
Either way, just enjoy Peruvian cuisine, it is one of the best in the world.