- Chupe de Camarones – Shrimp stew with milk, eggs, and oregano.
- Escribano – potato salad with rocoto, vinegar, olive oil, tomato, and parsley
- El Sango – A sweet made with a wheat base, raisins, honey, milk, and butter.
- Adobo Arequipeño – pork marinated and cooked in vinegar, onions, and chiles.
- Rocoto Relleno – Spicy Andean pepper stuffed with meat.
- Ocopa Arequipeña – Potatoes, eggs, olives in a spicy yellow chili sauce. Served cold. One of Arequipa’s signature dishes.
- Queso Frito – Fried Cheese.
- Queso Helado – Cheese flavored ice cream (much better than it sounds).
Restaurants in Arequipa
Arequipa’s dining scene is one of the best in Peru. It lacks the high priced touristy restaurants that plague Lima and Cuzco, but has many good valued international restaurants (particularly on San Francisco) and local eateries with many of the regions typical flavors scattered throughout the city. The regional dishes are quite varied and make use of creatures found in the mountains and valleys such as cuy, alpaca, and freshwater shrimp as well as many Andean vegetables.
Chi Cha – Santa Catalina 210, 054/28-7360. Gastón Acurio’s first real foray into Arequipa is one of his two Chi Cha restaurants in Peru (the other being in Cuzco). The restaurant is similar to his Panchita in Lima, but with slight emphasis on the native ingredients and dishes of Arequipa like Adobo and Rocoto Relleno, as well as adventurous takes like Chupe de Camarones Pizza or Alpaca Ossobuco. There’s a long list of Pisco based cocktails fused with Amazonian fruit juices.
Palador 1900. Villaba 307, 054/226-295. El Turko’s latest is one of Arequipa’s top eateries. The contemporary digs decorated by Peruvian artist Hernan Sosa are set in a multi-level gem of sillar stone and floor to ceiling glass windows that can slide open on nice days. The menu is adventurous and travels to the Mediterranean, Middle East, Southeast Asia, Switzerland, and of course, Peru. Start with the Escribano fusion, a typical Arequipeñan salad that adds octopus, and then move on to one of the heartier entrees like the Bardo Immortal (corn cake with stuffed with shrimp tails) or a 350 gram cut of Argentinian Bife Ancho. Finish your evening with a lucuma version of the classic Peruvian sweet, Suspiro a la Limeña or a shot of Pisco. Palador 1900’s pisco and wine selections are Arequipa’s best.
La Nueva Palomino– Prado 122, 054/5-3500. Chef Monica Huertas who uses many of the same classic recipes her mother and her grandmother used that date back for more than a century, is one of the great promoters of Arequipeñan cuisine. Her preparations of regional standards such as rocoto relleno, adobo, lechón al horno, chupe de camarónes, and queso helado have become the definitive recipes. This picanteria is a great place to come to on the weekend and spend the entire day eating and drinking and listening to live music on their pleasant patio.
La Trattoria del Monasterio – Santa Catalina 309, 204-062, firstname.lastname@example.org, is set inside the Convent of Santa Catalina and one of the white city’s most innovative and delectable restaurants. Internationally acclaimed Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio, who also owns the famed Lima restaurant Astrid y Gaston, designed the menu, which combines Italian cuisine and elegance with that of Arequipeñan flavors. Make reservations. Highly recommended. $$$$
Zig Zag Restaurant – Zela 212, 206-620, www.zigzagrestaurant.com. Set in a colonial house with an iron staircase designed by Gustave Eiffel. It is stylish and chic with food to match. Owners have an ostrich farm and are very enthusiastic on serving the animal in their restaurant and providing information on its health benefits. Also have massive stone grilled steaks, alpaca, lamb, fondues. $$$ Also has a creperie of the same name at Santa Catalina 208 with literally over 100 varieties of crepes using high quality local and foreign ingredients such as crawfish, quinoa, trout, and Roquefort cheese. Also has a long line of sweet crepes, milkshakes, and other desserts. A good spot for an early evening drink or a nightcap. $$-$$$
El Turko – San Francisco 216 is a cheap, quick, and very good place for kebabs, falafels, or doner kebabs. $ Also try Istanbul at San Francisco 31-A from the same owners. $$
Fory Fay Cevicheria – Dolores 144, 054/247–500. More than 20 years old, this tiny cevicheria, which originally hails from and still has a sister restaurant in Mollendo on the coast, is a favorite among Arequipeños. A specialty is their sea urchin ceviche, which is an acquired taste.
Ary Quepay – Jerusalen 502, 204-583, www.aryquepay.com. Run by the Verapinto Ramirez family who tend to all facets of restaurant operation. A romantic rustic atmosphere with plants, patios, watercolor paintings, and candlelight. Long list of dishes including variations of fish, cuy (guinea pig), alpaca, chicken, beef, shrimp, duck, ostrich, lamb, as well as traditional Arequipeñan recipes. Has some vegetarian options as well. English language menu available. $$
Pizzeria Los Lenos – Jerusalen 407, 289-179, good wood fired pizzas in a cozy atmosphere with sometimes live music.
Zingaro – San Francisco 309, 217-662. Decent Mediterranean and Peruvian dishes in a pleasant colonial atmosphere.
For Vegetarian try Govinda, Santa Catalina 120, 285-540. Each day of the week features a different Peruvian or international menu. They deliver too. Run by Hare Krishna.
Restaurants Overlooking the Plaza de Armas – There are many restaurants overlooking Arequipa’s plaza where employees stand on the street try to entice you inside with discounts and free drinks. Many have traditional regional dishes and a large selection; however, it sometimes can be hit or miss depending on how the chef might be feeling that day. I have found few to be very good. One exception is the Restaurant Inkafé at the Sonesta Posada del Inka, which prepares Arequipeñan dishes fused with International cuisine, and is generally decent. $$
Cioccolata – Mercaderes 120, 247-180, is the place to go for sweets of any kind. Ice Cream, pastries, cakes, pies, as well as food and cocktails, although a bit pricey. Very stylish and could just as easily be put in Rome without seeming unusual. $$
Also don’t miss the Mercado San Camilo for local foods such as ceviche (including ceviche erotico which is considered an aphrodisiac), queso helado (cheese flavored ice cream…delicious), and regional fruit drinks. The market also has just about everything else that isn’t edible that Arequipeñans use such as textiles, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, toys, and a multitude of other junk.
Also keep an eye out for products from La Iberica, an Arequipeñan candy company. Chocolates, toffees, marzipan, etc.
Arequipa Bars & Nightlife
Casona Forum – San Francisco 317. Combines a pizzeria, grill with Swiss cuisine, pub and pool hall, karaoke bar, and discoteca with sometimes-live music under one roof. Very lively Thurs-Sat.
Déjà vu – San Francisco 319. A lively mixed crowd of locals and travelers. The rooftop terrace has great views.
La Casa de Klaus – Zela 207. Run by its German owner and features German and local specialties, as well as imported beers. Klaus raises his own cuy, so it is guaranteed fresh here.
La Leña – Zela 202. A pub that stays open late and draws a stylish, young crowd.
Kibosh – Zela 205, 626-218, Beer, wood fired pizzas, often crowded, dancing, loud popular music. Open Wednesday through Saturday.
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.