Again, the time has come to extol the virtues of Peruvian food and offer an explanation for why it is quite likely that I’ll be rolled home Violet Beauregarde style instead of fitting into an airline seat like the vast majority of humanity is able to.
I just spent three weeks in Lima. Three. Eating most of the time.
Peru is one of the food capitals of South America, and Lima the capital of all that goodness: It has everything from fantastic menús to fine dining, all of it mouth-watering and only some of it ready to scare your wallet away. Fortunately, I was in the good hands of my friend Giuliana and her group of mates; people of that happy sort whose taste buds are always ready to be attacked and/or gently caressed by a delicious meal. (Hell, who are the sad-eyed pups who aren’t of that sort?!)
Here’s a winner’s list of some of Lima’s top restaurants…
LA CANTA RANA is a hive of activity in Barranco which I clearly would have walked straight past if it hadn’t been for Giuliana’s keen observation – and the wonderful old man outside of it selling baby cacti. Run by an Argentinian expat living in Lima, La Canta Rana offers a mish-mash of Peruvian classics like ceviche and tiradito (sliced raw fish served with creamy ají sauce) and other warming devils of the Italian persuasion, like risottos and gnoccis.
Delivered casually and in a location decked out with sports memorabilia and family photos (some absolutely hilarious, even not knowing the subjects) the chaos is catchy and rad.
I have a friend who’s never tasted fish before. Sometimes I understand why. I mean, seafood in general looks like it’s come fresh off an alien ship from a place where the world is all topsy turvy (for example, where regaettón is heralded as the best musical contribution since a young Mozart first toddled over to play with a bunch of manuscript paper). I mean, my murderous thoughts on piure and picoroco in Chile, and the please-don’t-let-the-wind-change faces I made while eating those “creations” will attest to the unaesthetic nature of some of those little critters.
I understand my friend’s aversion to all things marine.
And then just as promptly, can’t even begin to understand.
Creepy-looking seafood is delicious…especially when someone’s been so kind as to it a Devo; and whip it into shape, whip it good and shape it up into the incredible madness here at Miraflores’ LA RED.
The ceviche is their specialty and dammit, rightly so.
(At La Red, you’ll also be able to believe you’re important, as three dozen waiters are constantly on call to pour your water and crack your pepper. You’ve only gotta pop on a huge pair of dark, round glasses and *bam!* it’s like you’re a celeb with a mouthful of very odd sea creature.)
PUNTO AZUL is the slightly more casual version of La Red, a place where long tables of people try desperately to plough through the insane helpings on offer.
The servings over there at Punto Azul are monstrously large. “Large” as in some purging would indeed be necessary to effectively do away with some of those babies. (The Romans really had a good idea going on there…before stomach acids rotted their teeth and possibly empire.)
Likely puking-to-make-way-for-more aside, ten out of ten for Punto Azul for making it impossible for even me to finish my meal. I applaud you.
FOR ITALIAN FUSION: (Itali-uvian? Peru-ialian?)
I’ve pulled an emotional teary over many things before: Leaving the hairdressers. Shopping for jeans. Waking up on Monday.
Food hasn’t yet done it – although that almost ended in a weeping mess over a plate of pumpkin ravioli and braised cheek (I’m inclined to believe the facial rather than buttock variety) at LOS BACHICHE.
Bachiche is an old Spanish term meaning “Italian immigrant” (meanly, the fact that my Peruvian friend needed to Google that made me happy) – and my taste buds and endorphin transmitters are very pleased indeed that they decided to jump ship and leave Italy for potato-land Peru.
Los Bachiche serves up a Ital-uvian sort of fusion and a wickedly delicious selection of cocktails to get you rightly tipsy; and is the sort of buzzing restaurant where people seem to be having witty conversations at every table…
…when they weren’t sobbing with calorific euphoria into their plates.
Top Restaurants Conclusion: If Lima didn’t have you at “Hello,” it’s insane mix of incredible restaurants will have you at “…Hey, why don’t you eat this?”
(Unless you’re a sad-eyed pup who doesn’t like life.)
- LA CANTA RANA (Génova 101, Barranco)
- LA RED (Av. La Mar 391, Miraflores)
- PUNTO AZUL (Av. Primavera 2235, Surco)
- LOS BACHICHE (Av. La Paz 1025, Miraflores)