Don’t be that boring traveler who never experiments! Peru’s local cuisine is full of flavors and spices. Due to its multiethnic background over five centuries, Peruvian cuisine contains huge influences from Spain, France, Germany and the Chinese, who arrived to Peru in the 1850s. Seafood takes over most menus, and you’ll taste stir fried and grilled meats covered in heavy sauces. Venture out in Lima’s chain restaurants such as: Tanta or Segundo Muelle (there are several of each located throughout the city), so you can indulge in traditional and fresh Peruvian dishes.
Ready for a high protein, low-gluten kind of breakfast? Quinoa is any Peruvian’s breakfast of champions. In Lima, you’ll find street vendors that sell hot and/or cold quinoas, mixed with fruits. Think grains cooked down similar to Asian porridge served in little mugs. If you’re looking for something to kickstart the day, a mug of quinoa will be jam-packed with energy!
You’ll see causas on every menu. Imagine chicken or egg salad made with yellow potatoes, and stacked with tuna, trout, shredded chicken, crabs, hard boiled eggs, beets, corns, tomatoes, and avocado. All blended with oil, lime juice and aji amarillo (Peruvian yellow chili pepper). If you’re a big fan of potato and egg salads, then you’ll dive right into this one.
If Peruvians were to label one thing as their national dish, ceviche would be it. Raw fish, citrus juice, lots of chewiness mixed with local vegetables and again with aji amarillo. If you’re not familiar with ceviche, then you should know that the acid in the citrus juice cooks the raw fish, while marinating it with tons of flavors. If you’re up for it, drink up the ceviche juice after eating the raw fish. #Instanom.
4. Pisco Sour
One cocktail to order every night: the Pisco Sour, which incorporates fresh lime juice with sugar, egg white, and Angostura bitters. It tastes dry and tarty. Peruvians will make them with local fresh fruits such as passion fruits or mangos, try them all if you love a good, tarty, sour cocktail.
5. Lomo Saltado
Talk about a multiethnic dish! A good lomo saltado is infused with lots of Chinese-Peruvian flavors called: chifa – a way of cooking that involves vinegar, soy sauce and spices to marinate pieces of beef. Then they’re cooked and sautéed with onions, tomatoes, chili and potatoes. Another traditional dish you’ll see on every menu, and so hearty!
6. Japanese Food
Don’t be surprised if you stumble upon an abundance of Japanese restaurants in Lima, and they all serve fantastic dishes, mainly because Peruvian ingredients pair very well with Japanese flavors. You’ll probably see tiradito on menus, just think carpaccio or sashimi drenched in spicy sauces. If you’re not afraid of raw fish, definitely indulge in tiradito or Peruvian style sushis.
7. Aji de Gallina
Too much seafood and ready to switch it up? Aji de gallina is a lovely choice and a local classic. Typically chicken served with a creamy and spicy sauce that appears yellow from aji amarillo. The sauce will also contain walnuts at times. Served with rice, potatoes, a hard boiled egg and olives.
Aka: guinea pig. If you’re not down with eating rodents, then stop right here. But guinea pigs are a big deal in Peruvian cuisine, which has been described as similar to the tastes of chicken or rabbit. Typically baked or barbecued and then served whole, guinea pigs are a staple in native Andes’ homes. Nowadays, chefs are creating dishes where you won’t even recognize the meat as cuy. So just maybe, ordering it won’t be as crazy as it sounds.
Peru’s version of kebabs are anticuchos, which can be discovered on street carts. They’re usually made with beef hearts, marinated in vinegar, cumin, aji pepper and garlic. If beef hearts are too adventurous for you, you can also choose other types of meats and they’ll be served with boiled potatoes or bread.
10. Conchitas a la Parmesana
Conchitas are bay scallops with Parmesan cheese, broiled for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden while the scallops remain fresh and semi-raw. Another standard dish on every restaurant menu which you’ve got to devour.
11. Inca Kola
A soft drink made with lemon verbana that was created by José Robinson a British immigrant in Peru back in 1935. Inca Kola is yellow and tastes like bubblegum-flavored cream soda. Hmmm…what’s not to love? Just don’t ask for the diet option, there’s none of that beeswax in Peru.
12. Lucuma Ice Cream
Lucuma is a subtropical fruit grown mainly in the Andean valleys. The actual fruit looks like a mango and tastes like custard. If you can’t find them as a flavor of ice cream then order it as a dessert dish. If you’re craving for maple syrup, lucuma will hit the spot.
13. Peruvian Coffee
You may now this already, but Peru is one of the largest producers of coffee in the world. In addition, it’s also one of the major producers of organic and fair trade coffee beans. They’re strong with major kick. Need something greater than your alarm clock to start the day? Get your Peruvian coffee on!