Food to Try in Peru, South America’s Culinary Capital

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Eat your way through South America’s culinary capital with our favorite food to try in Peru!

Is Peruvian Food Good?

Absolutely. Peru has two restaurants in The World’s Best Restaurant List which is a prestige awarded to the top of the line restaurants in the world. With the most restaurants in South America on this list, there is no question that Peruvian food is good!

As the culinary capital of South America, the food in Peru is bar none. And even though our budget did not stretch quite far enough to eat at one of the critically acclaimed restaurants, the street food and local restaurants lived up to Peru’s culinary expertise.

The food in peru is as varied as the country and the people that reside within. From great seafood dishes at the coast to hearty meals in the Andes Mountains, you are sure to able to answer the question “Is Peruvian food good?” for yourself at the end of your culinary escapade through Peru.

The Best Food to Try in Peru

Ceviche

Ceviche, the most popular food in Peru and the best food to try in Peru.
Ceiviche is the most popular food to try in Peru

Perhaps the most notable of food in Peru, it is certainly the most popular food to try in Peru. This simple dish is made of only a handful of ingredients, but packs a lot of bunch and is easily the best Peruvian food of all the food we have tried. With only raw seafood, lime, cilantro and chile, this light and refreshing meal will quickly become a favorite and go to as you travel throughout Peru.

And if you are one of those people thinking, “I don’t eat anything raw except vegetables”. Trust us on this one, and give it a try. It doesn’t get much fresher than the ceviche from one of the beach towns in Peru or the Peruvian capital of Lima.

For our favorite ceviche in Lima, head over to the Mercado de Surquillo. Hands down the best ceviche in Peru.

Or check out Al Toke Pez, a ten seater hole in the wall where you can watch the chef prepare your individually ordered ceviche right in front of you. Make sure to get the leche de tiger while you wait for your freshly prepared ceviche!

Or, if you still haven’t had enough, head over to Cevichería Bam Bam Y Sus Conchas Negras which caters to both tourists and locals.

But even if you cannot make it to one of these great restaurants, there are plenty of hole in the walls, ceviche stalls, and restaurants serving this Peru national dish!

Arroz con Mariscos

Arroz con mariscos is Peru dish equivalent of the Spanish paella. Rice loaded with various shellfish cooked in herbs and spices to taste. It is a great meal on its own or as a side to ceviche. For the non-seafood eater, the arroz con pate (duck) is also a favorite with locals and definitely a food to try in Peru!

Cuy

The Peruvian cuy is a must try food in Peru!
The cuy is a must try food in Peru!

The food in Peru I was most surprised by was cuy. Cuy or guinea pig is a household pet where I come from, so I was surprised to find cuy (guinea pig) on the menu when we arrived in Cusco. A local Peru delicacy for the Andes people, Peruvian cuy has been served in the Andes Mountains for thousands of years. Traditionally cuy is served for special occassions and is a Peruvian national dish.

While at first you may not want to try cuy, it is an experience that I would recommend. And if you do try this, don’t be shy about it and go all out. Order the full cuy for a traditional Peruvian experience, hat and “pepper-bone” and all. If you still are not convinced and are uncertain of what cuy tastes like, it tastes very similar to rabbit.

Chifa

Chifa is Peru’s version of Chinese food. This food to try in Peru was born during the late 19th century and early 20th century when an influx of Chinese people immigrated to Peru. With aspirations to produce authentic Chinese cuisine in their new homeland, the Chinese immigrants imported various vegetables and products to Peru. Despite their efforts, however, many of their traditional ingredients were still unavailable. And thus the Peruvian cuisine of Chifa was born!

If you love Chinese food in your hometown, then you are bound to love Chifa in Peru. From budget chifa to fancy chifa, there is chifa for all types of travelers. It is a food to try in Peru that might have surprised you, but is as Peruvian as the other Peruvian dishes on this list of food in Peru.

If you are visiting Cusco, our favorite chifa restaurant that we visited was Kion in the historic city center.

Adobo

If you find yourself in Arequipa on a Sunday and with a hangover, head to a local restaurant in search of Adobo. A Sunday staple amongst Arequipeans, this delicious pork chop stew is sure to cure all your ailments. Served with tons of bread for soaking up the juiciness, you will leave well fed looking to head back to your hostel for an afternoon siesta.

Papa Relleno

If the street meat in Peru scares you a bit, then the papa relleno is the perfect street snack for you. Although some papa rellenos do come stuffed with meat, it is a far cry from the sticks of meat that are being barbequed on make shift grills on the street corner. And if the barbeque doesn’t scare you enough, one walk through the markets with the meat displayed in the heat swarming with flies will certainly change your mind.

So if you aren’t big on street meat, the papa relleno is the food to try in Peru. A potato stuffed with vegetables, herbs and sometimes meat, it is then deep fried and served piping hot on the streets of Peru. It is hard to not love something deep fried, so you are sure to love this Peruvian snack.

Rocoto Relleno Con Pastel de Papa

The rocoto relleno con pastel de papa is Peru’s version of the chili relleno from Mexico. A pepper filled with meat, spices, herbs and vegetables topped with cheese and baked until lightly crisped. And, not only do you get a delicious stuff pepper, but this Peruvian dish comes with a side of delicious potato pie. Two yummy (and fattening) Peruvian dishes probably better shared than enjoyed on your own.

The best rocoto rellenos con pastel de papa are usually found in the markets. Just make sure to check the reviews of the market online before diving in. Eddie found out the hard way that eating in the San Pedro Market in Cusco!

The Best Food to Try in Peru | Peru Desserts

Picarones

Our favorite of the Peruvian desserts is the picarones. This yummy treat is found on the streets of Arequipa and is Peru’s answer to a donut. Delicious fried dough covered in a sweet syrup served with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee. It is a perfect way to watch the sunset and warm up from the cooler temperatures that are found in Arequipa.

Grab one on your way to Yanahuara to watch the magnificent colors form the backdrop of El Misti. Enjoy a romantic evening devouring picarones, sipping hot chocolate and watching the colorful display as the sun sets behind the mountains.

Suspiro de Limeña

The Suspiro de Limeña, which translate as “Sigh of the lady from Lima”, is one of the most popular Peruvian desserts. The suspiro de limeña is a combination of dulce de leche and meringue. You will find the suspiro de limeña in most restaurants in and around Lima, Peru’s capital.

Lucuma Ice Cream

Who doesn’t love ice cream? And one of the best Peruvian desserts is the lucuma ice cream found in the coastal Andes valleys of Peru. Lucuma is the fruit of the Pouteria lucuma tree which is native to South America and looks like a cross between a pear and a mango. This delicious native Peruvian fruit tastes similar to custard and is considered the gold of the Incas.

The fruit can be used in a variety of ways, but the best way to enjoy lucuma is with lucuma ice cream! The best time to try lucama ice cream is during the summer months which run from January to March.

We hope with this list of food to try in Peru, you will find something that you love to share with your friends and family at home! Our favorite of all of the food in Peru that we tried was the ceviche! What Peruvian food was your favorite? Is Peruvian food good to you?

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