A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Food in Lima, Peru
The coastal city of Lima, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Andean Mountains, is the perfect destination for food lovers from around the world. As the capital of Peru, it is a melting pot of flavors and ingredients, blending indigenous, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, and African culinary influences. This diverse mix has given birth to a unique and delectable cuisine, making Lima one of the world’s top gastronomic destinations. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the best food in Lima, from traditional dishes to trendy fusion creations, and where to find them.
Ceviche: The Quintessential Peruvian Dish
Ceviche is the national dish of Peru and an absolute must-try for any visitor to Lima. This refreshing and tangy concoction consists of fresh fish or seafood marinated in lime juice, with a touch of spicy aji pepper, red onions, and cilantro. The acidity of the lime juice ‘cooks’ the fish, giving it a tender texture and a delightful, zesty flavor.
Where to try ceviche in Lima:
La Mar: A popular cevicheria in the Miraflores district, offering a variety of ceviche dishes made with the freshest ingredients.
El Mercado: This upscale restaurant, helmed by renowned chef Rafael Osterling, serves a unique ceviche with a ginger-infused leche de tigre (the citrus-based marinade).
Pescados Capitales: With a focus on sustainability, this cevicheria in the San Isidro district is known for its exceptional quality and innovative ceviche creations.
Lomo Saltado: A Chinese-Peruvian Fusion Classic
Lomo saltado is a delicious example of the Chinese influence on Peruvian cuisine, known as chifa. This flavorful stir-fry dish features tender strips of beef, tomatoes, onions, and aji peppers, all tossed in a savory soy sauce-based marinade. Served with crispy french fries and steamed rice, lomo saltado is a satisfying and hearty meal.
Where to try lomo saltado in Lima:
Tanta: A modern Peruvian bistro owned by famed chef Gaston Acurio, Tanta serves an exceptional lomo saltado in a chic, casual setting.
Chifa Titi: This upscale chifa restaurant in the San Isidro district offers a mouthwatering lomo saltado with a unique Cantonese twist.
Isolina Taberna Peruana: Located in the bohemian Barranco district, this cozy tavern offers a home-style version of lomo saltado that is bursting with flavor.
Anticuchos: A Taste of Afro-Peruvian Tradition
Anticuchos are succulent skewers of marinated beef heart, grilled to perfection and served with a side of boiled potatoes and corn. This flavorful street food has its roots in the Afro-Peruvian community and is a beloved part of Lima’s culinary landscape.
Where to try anticuchos in Lima:
Anticuchos Grimanesa: This legendary street food stall, now a brick-and-mortar establishment, has been serving up some of Lima’s best anticuchos for over 40 years.
La Picanteria: A lively restaurant in the Surquillo district, where you can enjoy tasty anticuchos alongside other traditional Peruvian dishes.
Tio Mario: Located in the Barranco district, Tio Mario is a popular spot for both tourists and locals to savor perfectly-grilled anticuchos in a vibrant setting.
Aji de Gallina: Comfort Food with a Peruvian Twist
Aji de gallina is a creamy, mildly spicy chicken stew that is quintessential Peruvian comfort food. The dish features shredded chicken cooked in a rich, velvety sauce made from aji amarillo (yellow Peruvian pepper), ground walnuts, garlic, onions, and evaporated milk. Served over rice and garnished with olives, hard-boiled eggs, and potatoes, aji de gallina offers a delightful combination of flavors and textures.
Where to try aji de gallina in Lima:
El Rincón Que No Conoces: A hidden gem in the Lince district, this family-run restaurant is famous for its traditional, homemade-style aji de gallina.
La Lucha Sanguchería Criolla: For a casual take on aji de gallina, this popular sandwich shop in Miraflores offers a delicious aji de gallina sandwich, perfect for a quick lunch.
Café de Lima: This cozy café in the historic center of Lima serves a satisfying and flavorful aji de gallina, perfect for enjoying in a relaxed atmosphere.
Causa Rellena: A Colorful Layered Peruvian Delight
Causa rellena is a traditional Peruvian dish made from layers of mashed yellow potatoes, seasoned with lime juice and aji amarillo, and filled with various ingredients such as chicken, avocado, and mayonnaise. The dish is served cold and is often beautifully presented, making it both a visual and culinary treat.
Where to try causa rellena in Lima:
Panchita: Another Gaston Acurio creation, Panchita is a lively and colorful restaurant where you can try a variety of causa rellena with different fillings.
El Señorío de Sulco: Located in the Miraflores district, this elegant restaurant is known for its exquisite presentation and mouthwatering causa rellena.
La Rosa Náutica: Enjoy a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean while savoring delicious causa rellena at this iconic Lima landmark.
Rocoto Relleno: A Spicy Andean Specialty
Originating from the city of Arequipa, rocoto relleno is a popular Peruvian dish that has made its way to Lima’s culinary scene. This dish features rocoto peppers—similar in appearance to bell peppers but with a fiery kick—stuffed with a savory mix of ground beef, onions, garlic, raisins, and spices. The stuffed peppers are then topped with melted cheese and baked, resulting in a spicy and satisfying meal.
Where to try rocoto relleno in Lima:
Las Tejas: A charming restaurant in the San Isidro district, Las Tejas offers a delicious and authentic rocoto relleno that brings the flavors of Arequipa to Lima.
La Nueva Palomino: Located in the Magdalena del Mar district, this vibrant eatery is known for its exquisite rocoto relleno and other traditional Arequipeña dishes.
Sol de Oro: A popular spot in the Miraflores district, Sol de Oro serves up a tasty rocoto relleno with just the right amount of spice.
Lima, Peru’s gastronomic capital, offers a diverse array of dishes that cater to every palate. From the refreshing ceviche to the comforting aji de gallina and the fiery rocoto relleno, there is something for everyone to enjoy. With this comprehensive guide to the best food in Lima, you are well-prepared to embark on an unforgettable culinary adventure in this vibrant city. Buen provecho!