Barranco, Lima, Peru’s seaside suburb to the south of Miraflores, was once a weekend retreat for Lima’ s Creole bourgeoisie, who built homes there in the 19th and 20th Century, as well as wealthy German and British immigrants. In the late 20th century the area became decrepit, a haven for drugs, and fell to ruin. The last few decades have seen resurgence in investment in the neighborhood and many of the most prominent families, writers, artists, and celebrities in Lima now live in the restored colonial mansions that line the cliffs. Many of the hippest restaurants, nightclubs, cafes, bars, shops, galleries, and hotels can now all be found in Barranco. Some liken it to Santiago, Chile’s Bellavista district.
What to See in Barranco
Parque Municipal – The center of the neighborhood features with a central fountain, small amphitheater, and shady places to sit. Surrounding it are a few restaurants and bars, a couple of museums, and the public library. Small festivals are held here on most weekends and there are always small time artists selling handmade jewelry and crafts.
Bajada de los Banos – An attractive promenade leads from the plaza to the sea and is now it is lined with bars, cafes, and restaurants. Straddling the walkway is the more famous, Puente de Los Suspiros, the Bridge of Sighs was built over it. At any given time you will find courting couples walking hand and hand across it. Behind the church facing the sea is a beautiful mirador with a few restaurants including La Posada del Mirador, beside it which are a great place to stare out towards the Pacific with a basket of fried yuca and a pisco sour.
Museo de Arte Colonial Pedro de Osma – This fantastic colonial art collection sits in an equally as stunning white colonial mansion. Pedro de Osma 421.
Hotels in Barranco
Second HomePeru – Rooms and terraces with Pacific Ocean views are the main attraction at this boutique hotel in a restored Tudor mansion that once belonged to Peruvian sculptor Victor Delfin.
Arts Boutique Hotel B – Luxury hotel and tour operator Andean Experience will open a few rooms in a restored colonial mansion sometime in 2009, though there have been numerous delays in getting this started. It will be a small, boutique hotel with an elegant Old World Explorer’s Club theme. If done right, this will be my pick for the most atmospheric hotel in Lima.
Restaurants in Barranco
LA 73 – Trendy corner bistro beside a small park is one of the best new restaurants in the city. Pastas, strudel de carne, sandwiches, pastel de choclo, and even churros. Avenue El Sol Oueste 175.
Chala – On the Bajada de Baños. A creative young chef is dishing out Criollo fusion dishes like the Risotto Piurana and Saltado Chaleño.
Cala – A two level beachside bar and restaurant at Playa Barranquito. One of the best places to see and be seen. Seafood, ceviches, risotto, and pasta.
Manos Moreños – One of the best criollo restaurants in Lima. Set in a colonial style mansion with a large shady patio. Expect dishes like Chupe de Camarones, piqueos, and Arroz con pato a la Chiclayana. Occasionally becomes a peña in the evenings. Pedro de Osma 409.
Tio Mario’s – This anticucheria above the Puente de los Suspiros is one of the best places in all of Lima for the skewered beef hearts. In the evenings the line runs down the steps and sometimes out the door. Get a chopp of Pilsen beer while you wait. After your meal try their picarones, pumpkin fritters drizzled in syrup. Zepita 214.
Rustica -This restored colonial building turned criollo restaurant will never blow you away with the food or service, but if you come for the lunchtime buffet there is no better place to sample Lima’s cuisine for the price. Parque de Barranco 105.
Weekend Food Fair – Every weekend, in the open space between the main plaza and the Puente de los Suspiros, a food fair sets up shop. There are maybe twenty stands each selling a different criollo dish or sweet. The price is nothing. Like 10 soles a plate.
Bars/Nighlife in Barranco
Barranco is one of the centers of nightlife in Lima. It lacks the brash, snobbish discotecas of Miraflores, but what it does have are sticky floor student hangouts, stylish criollo clubs, authentic spots for acoustic and live music, and a a few trendy other spots. Options tend to be either refined or borderline trashy. There’s not much in between, though most is on the refined end except one small strip of bars. Some of my favorites are listed below, but also try Portal del Angel (3 locations), La Noche (especially Monday Jazz nights), and Songoro Cosongo.
Ayahuasca – Opened in 2008, this new bar named after the hallucinogenic vine in the Amazon was named to Conde Nast Traveler’s Annual Hotlist and is the most upscale and stylish of Barranco’s nightspots. The bar is set inside a beautiful Republican era mansion with art installations throughout the maze of rooms. Their range of pisco cocktails, including a number that are macerated in fruit, is one of the best in Lima. San Martin 130.
El Dragon – Great live music venue and clubwith a wide range of muci being played throughout the week. Wednesday and Thursdays have live jazz or reggae acts, Fridays are for electronic music, and Saturdays vary. Nicolás de Piérola 168.
Mochileros – A cluster of small bars set in a 100-year-old mansion that was once a backpacker hostel. Wednesdays through Saturdays their shady patio is filled with twenty and thirty somethings, while the basement frequently holds live concerts, poetry readings, dance performances, theater and other live acts. Pedro de Osma 135.
Juanitos – Though it looks like every other bodega/sandwich shop in Lima, all sorts of the neighborhoods painters, writers, and intellectuals come here to hang out, as do young groups who appreciate the cheap chopps of beer and a Jamon de Pais sandwich. Grau 274.
Also read about Barranco’s lesser known neighbor, a major player on the cevicheria scene, of Chorrillos.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.