Discovering the Best Restaurants in Cusco Peru
If you’re are wondering just where to eat in Cusco Peru, we have taken the leg work for you and put together our list of the best restaurants in Cusco Peru for any occasion.
We found ourselves in an Airbnb in Cusco separated from our van, which we had abandoned near Machu Picchu behind blockades of protesting coca farmers. Without any indication of how long it might take the protests to resolve we resigned ourselves to a couple of weeks in Cusco. To pass the time we wrote, wandered the city, met up with some locals to practice our Spanish and took free salsa lessons in the evenings at the clubs near the Plaza del Armas. Aaannnd we ate… we ate a lot.
Without our car, we were mostly limited to the options within walking distance from our centrally located Airbnb bear the Plaza de Armas. Luckily options abound in this popular tourist area. Every day was centered around finding one new restaurant to try. Through our painstaking and methodical research, we were able to find out exactly where to eat in Cusco Peru no matter what you are craving.
Where to Eat in Cusco Peru for Any Occasion
Where to Eat Cuy in Cusco Peru
Cuy is the local name for guinea pig and here in Peru, cuy is considered food, not friend. Although I couldn’t bring myself to eat dog in Vietnam, I have never really owned guinea pigs as pets (we had two for a couple of hours once before I took pity on them and let them out to exercise, they were never seen again) and don’t have any strong feelings about their place in the food chain. Kelli unsurprisingly (she couldn’t be described as a pet person) didn’t have any qualms either so we decided to try cuy.
Despite a persistent stomach bug I picked up in San Pedro Market, we set about finding where to eat in Cusco Peru when you have a hankering for guinea pig. Kelli quickly tracked down the best restaurant in Cusco for cuy, Kusikuy.
This is the only place we could find where the full guinea pig is served to the table as opposed to just a small portion that could be from any animal. To be honest, the cuy tasted like rabbit and not great rabbit with a lot of fat and greasy skin, but hey when in Peru. On the upside, the guinea pig was served wearing a little hat made of tomato and celery.
I probably won’t eat guinea pig again, but you have to try it for yourself Kusikuy is the best restaurant in Cusco Peru to eat Cuy.
Try the local delicacy of cuy a la horno, or roast guinea pig, if only to tick it off the list. Kusikuy serves the whole rodent to the table making for a great photo op. But watch out these pets turned food aren’t as cheap as some other options with one cuy costing 65 soles.
Best Affordable Restaurant in Cusco Peru
San Blas Market
If you are trying to find out where to eat on a budget in Cusco Peru, you’re in luck. There are heaps of great options all within a stone’s throw of central Cusco.
Our pick of the best affordable restaurants in Cusco Peru isn’t really a restaurant at all, its a market.
We visited the San Blas Market for some fresh fruit and vegetbles and some lunch. Among a wide variety of options including menu del dias for just 5 soles ($1.50 USD), cheap sandwiches, burgers and juices, we found a falafel stand serving up mega falafels for 10 soles ($3 USD) which was more than enough for two for lunch.
San Blas market has a better reputation for hygiene than other markets in Cusco (such as the infamous San Pedro market).
However if the market doesn’t tickle your fancy many of the restaurants that apper in this list are also very budget friendly, keep reading to find more great affordable restaurants in Cusco.
Best Chinese Restaurant in Cusco Peru
In the late 19th century and early 20th century, a wave of Chinese immigrants came to Peru. In an effort to produce authentic Chinese food, they imported various vegetables and other products to Peru along with them. Despite this, some remained out of reach. Therefore the Chinese needed to substitute for local alternatives. Thus, chifa, Peruvian influenced Chinese food was created. You’ll find chifa restaurants everywhere in Peru, and Cusco is no exception.
Checkout Kion in downtown Cusco for a great example of Peruvian Chinese food. Whilst not the cheapest restaurant in Cusco Kion is still great value with generous serving portion and high quality delicious chifa.
Where to Eat Alpaca in Cusco Peru
Unlike cuy, alpaca actually makes for a tasty dinner. If your looking to try this unique meat, one of the best places to do so is Pachapapa in Cusco’s centro. Alpaca may not be the cheapest thing you eat in Cusco but it could be the most unique AND the most delicious.
Where to Eat Like a Local in Cusco Peru
Peruvian’s favourite food has to be Pollo a la Brasa. On all most every street corner rotisserie chicken can be found. If you pick right (look for where the locals go) you can get 1/8 of succulent, flavourful, juicy rotisserie chicken, rice, chips, salad and a soup from seven Soles making it another great budget option!
Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Cusco Peru
While there is a number of fine dining option in the city of Cusco, the one that caught our eye was actually about an hour outside of Cusco
An hour outside of the Cusco, near the Moray Inca archeological site, set against a backdrop of the snowcapped Andes, Mil is a new restaurant by Virgilio Martínez, the chef behind Central in Lima (ranked the sixth-best restaurant in the world in 2018).
We decided to visit for Kelli’s birthday. After a tour of the restaurant, which is iis also home to a research and development space which attract students from all over the world who come to study the huge varieties of tubers, herbs, vegetables, and other plants, many of which are still being discovered, that grow in the Andes.
After the tour, eight courses, each representative of a different Andes ecosystem, are slowly brought out alongside a drink pairing including, cocktails, liqueurs, local cervezas and wine
The meal was a four-hour dining marathon and had some great ‘moments’ as they are described during the service, and some moments I wouldn’t necessarily need to relive but each was certainly unique, challenging, and sure to be creations that won’t be repeated anywhere else.
Mil is a must for foodies visiting the region. An immersive and enlightening dining experience that tells the story of the Andes through food, the restaurant sits 20 with tables seating from midday, the eight course menu $145 USD and another $80 USD for the drink pairing.
The drink pairing is minimal, with small serving sizes and an unusual assortment of herb liquors, unique cocktails, and a glass of wine. It is as eclectic and unique as the food and may not be everyone’s cup of tea (incidentally the tea is bottomless and delicious).
Local coffee is optional, and the tour of the onsite chocolate flavor lab including a little sampling is a great way to end the meal.
Best Value Restaurant in Cusco Peru
**Update: Maikhana has closed 🙁 if your looking for a a great value meal, why not try the San Blas Market or some Pollo a la Brasa
Another great option for those on a budget, Maikhana is not the cheapest meal in the city, but with all you can eat for about $3 USD it’s definitely the best value.
After food poisin… stomach was settling. Perhaps because subconsciously I felt about the cuy or perhaps because I am a just sucker for punishment I did what any sensible person would do after nine days of a chronic stomach illness. I headed towards Cusco’s cheapest all you can eat Indian buffet. For fifteen soles or about $3 USD, Maikhana puts on a spread of vegetable and meat curries. Hearty and tasty, is how I’d describe it, not the most decadent Indian you have ever eaten, but for $3 we weren’t expecting that. More importantly, it didn’t make me sick again, a big plus.
Maikhana is also in the running for both the best vegetarian restaurant in Cusco, with a range of veggie options AND the best restaurant the with a view in Cusco Peru with a great outlook over …calle ….. in downtown Cusco.
Other Tips for Cusco
- Looking for a free (albeit small) dessert in Cusco? Why not check out the chocolate museum. Free to explore and with a few samples thrown in, its worthwhile if you have a lay day in Cusco.
- Avoid the shoe shiners and vendors in the Plaza de Armas, pushy and manipulative, they are out to scam. There are better ways to suport locals.
- Wanting to improve your Spanish, there are a lot of Spanish schools in Cusco to choose from. We decided it would be cheaper and more fun to track down a local and spend some time practicing with them.
- The larger clubs around the Plaza de Armas offer free salsa lessons from 9 pm. We enjoyed a couple of nights at Mythology. Turn up a little after nine to get a free drink ticket.
- Looking for some exercise? A hike up to the statue of the Cristo Blanco to work up your appetite and get ready for the next restaurant.
- Still feeling guilty from our week of feasting, we sought out a local gym. If you over-indulge in food as we have and feel the need to work out, Premium Gym Cusco has a day pass for twenty soles (roughly $6 USD) which I would recommend. Not huge but it has one of just about everything you might need. Plus it is close to the Plaza de Armas.
- Did you know there are Incan ruins all around Cusco? The most famous is the expensive and touristy Saqsaywaman however you can explore ancient ruins for free and likely have them all to yourself. Head to the Balcon del Diablo and walk up the valley to discover remnants of ancient civilizations. You can also camp on the flat above the Balcon Diablo for free!
Got any more recommendations for the best restaurants in Cusco Peru? Or perhaps a question about where to eat in Cusco Peru? Let us know in the comments below!
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