A self-guided food tour in Lima, Peru

Any travel experience for us is incomplete without getting acquainted with the food factor of that place. Peru was no exception and especially Lima, as it is not only the capital city of Peru but also considered to be the culinary capital of South America. Therefore, organised and guided food tours often tops the list of things to do for most travelers. These tours generally span for 3 to 6 hours and have good reviews. As we could only fit in a day and a half for Lima in our itinerary we decided not to book one to keep us free from time constraints. Another reason was, most of these tours had a local market visit followed by hopping at few restaurants. We believe in eating like a local and I was not sure if they could deliver that. So, I relied on my research about Peruvian food and hoped to make the best of it on the self-guided food tour in Lima.


Let me take you on a journey in Lima with some amazing food-stops.

1. Pan con Chicharron

Our very first meal in Lima really lived up to the food reputation of the city. The credit goes to our Airbnb host Carlos. He was intrigued by our interest in Peruvian food and accompanied us to a nice bakery La Panera Cafe just minutes away from his house in Pueblo Libre for dinner. He recommended pan con chicharron (Peruvian braised pork sandwich) from the menu. It was definitely one of the juiciest pork I have ever had (trust me as it is coming from big time pork lovers, that's us). The sandwich was well balanced with roasted sweet potatoes and pickled red onions to cut through the rich pork fat.


2. Papa Rellena

The next morning we stopped for breakfast at one of the street side vendors' shop near Plaza de Armas, the main square of Lima. The lady had quite a nice spread to choose from. My eyes immediately went at the papa rellena (stuffed potatoes). These are the most popular type of croquettes in Latin American countries. The potato dough is stuffed and then deep fried and served with aji (pepper) sauce, who wouldn't want that?


3. Pan con Sangrecita

We also ordered another Peruvian specialty, pan con sangrecita (blood sausage sandwich) from the same vendor. It was totally gem of a find. I couldn't hope for a better breakfast on that morning.


4. Peruvian Churros 

As we continued to explore the city, my husband's sweet tooth soon found a man selling churros outside Monastery of San Francisco. To our surprise Peruvian churros have a delicious filling of manjar blanco (custard made of thickened milk, vanilla bean and sugar). I wish they made these here in the U.S too, I never knew what I was missing every time I had churros before.


5. Chifa

This cuisine is a fusion of Chinese Cantonese food and Peruvian traditions and is a must try when in Peru. And what better place to try it other than Lima's Chinatown. We tried some mixed fried rice, steamed and fried dumplings for lunch. There was a lot to choose from in this unique cuisine. Lomo Saltaldo, one of Peru's most popular dishes originated from the chifa tradition.


6. Ceviche Mixto 

Seafood is big in Lima, and Ceviche is considered to be Peru's national dish. So, everyone has their signature recipe and claims to be the best, be it a top notch fine dining place or a road side shack. We decided to try some at Mercado de Surquillo. This market is popular among the locals and tourists alike. The market chevecherias offer an array of ceviche and seafood choices. We opted for ceviche mixto (mixed ceviche) as it had everything from scallops, squids, fish, shrimps tossed in the heavenly citrus mixture. Pair it with some local beer to really have a good time with it.




7. Peruvian Fruits

A visit to Mercado de Surquillo will surely draw your attention towards a variety of indigenous Peruvian fruits displayed nicely in the shops. We bought quite a few for our late afternoon snack. Each of them was interesting in its own way.


8. Juice and Ice cream

The huge variety of fruits and vegetables available in Peru from the Andes and the Amazon might have led to the huge number of juice shop in all over Peru. You will find people sip on some freshly squeezed juice anywhere and anytime of the day. We had already tried them in Cusco, so skipped that in Lima. But we definitely tried some ice cream with most unique flavors like tuna (prickly pear) and lucuma from some street vendors at Parque del Amor one of the most beautiful locations on Lima's coastline.





9. Corn and Chicha Morada

Corn is one of the staples in Peru as it is available in abundance and variety all over the country. Most Peruvian meals have them as a side or you can try them at local shops is from of steamed corn or Peruvian pop-corns or manna. Actually one of the most popular drinks in Peru chicha morada is made from the locally grow purple corns. It is a must try.



10. Pisco

Any trip to Peru would be not quite complete without having some pisco, Peruvian brandy also considered to be the national drink of the country. Although mentioned at last of the list is surely not the least. It is more like saving the best for last. Pisco sour is the most traditional form but it is also available is other varieties. While you can find shop and restaurants selling pisco almost in every nook and corner, one place can be really called a gem. Antigua Taberna Queirolo is more like  an institution than an old pub making their signature pisco in their wineries. It's history dates back to 1880's and has been a local's favorite since then. The pisco sour here purely speaks of tradition that does not require any bells and whistles. We also could not resist the pan con chicharron on the menu with our drinks. This last meal in Peru in the "ancient tavern Queirolo" was just the perfect way to celebrate the success of our trip and the wonderful memories made.



Some other mention worthy dishes to try in Peru are alpaca meat when visiting Machu Picchu or any other part of the Andes, Cuy (guinea-pig), Peruvian grilled chicken at any polleria.  You can read more about Peruvian pollerias here.

I hope you like our suggestions in the above list because we enjoyed our short time in Lima a lot. If you have more days in your Lima itinerary and willing to spend more bucks on Lima's food scene then do try out restaurants like Central for cutting edge Peruvian food, which we left for another time in future.

Photographs by Swakshar Ghosh.


Comments

  1. Nice blog,
    Really, you are sharing a nice article which is very interesting and useful for us. I pay the special thanks to you.
    viajes al machu picchu

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  2. Really appreciate your writings. you must have a great experience at Peru Photography Tour with amazing food items. It is helpful and valuable to many travelers to have knowledge and ideas about Peru and it's food items. One of the finest blog I ever read. I pay a special thanks to you for sharing information to us.

    ReplyDelete
  3. wow Really very nice blog !
    Last year I had also a trip to peru with my family , I ha booked my tour with Peru travel company as per my friend’s suggestion . They had also suggested me some palce to eat the best famous food of Peru , due to short time i couldn’t eat . Hope I will definitely try on my next trip .

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