As most of my work as of late involves eating and restaurants in Lima, Peru, I am often asked where to go. What is the cevicheria of the moment? Who is the hottest chef of the moment? Where should I go for a taste of the Amazon? Who has the best anticuchos? Which of Gaston Acurio’s restaurants should I go to? I could literally go on for days describing where to eat in Lima. While I’m usually scouting out huariques and market stalls in obscure districts, though for the passing writer or foodie that wants to know what is in right now, here is my Lima IT list:
- Manifiesto: Giacomo Bocchio infuses the cuisine of the southern city of Tacna with techniques he learned while cooking at São Paulo’s D.O.M. Don’t miss the tongue cooked sous vide. See our full review.
- Malabar: I’m far from the only person to think that Malabar is the best restaurant in Lima right now and has been for some time. While rumors of Pedro Miguel Schiaffino’s new Amazonian bar and farm based restaurant in Pachacamac get much of the press (not to mention La Pescaderia and the MV Aqua & MV Aria), Malabar’s explorations into unknown ingredients from the Andes and Amazonian go above and beyond anything be seen in Peru right now. See our full review.
- Astrid y Gaston: Acurio’s flagship has been re-energized by it’s rising listing in San Pellegrino’s Top 50 restaurants in the world and the 2013 move to the Casa Moreyra in San Isidro that is expected to blow any Peruvian restaurant that has ever been seen out of the water. www.astridygaston.com
- Central: Virgillio Martinez’s ultra hot contemporary Peruvian restaurant with a rooftop garden and chocolate cellar might be the most exciting in Lima right now and the chefs upcoming restaurants in Cuzco and London will attest to that. See our full review.
- Nanka: Australian chef Jason Nanka and his Peruvian wife Lorena Valdivia are turning the suburb of La Molina into a culinary destination for the first time. The innovative restaurant, which is keen on biodynamic foods, artisanal olive oil, craft beer, kitchen gardens, and general experimentation of all sorts, is the sort of diversity that Lima has long been lacking. See our interview with Jason Nanka.
- Ache: Hajime Kasuga’s fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisine is probably the most interesting Nikkei spot to open in several years. Set in a new restaurant strip beside spots from Acurio (Los Bachiche) and Schiaffino (Amaz), Ache moves seamlessly between traditional Japanese and Peruvian dishes. See our first look of Ache.
- Maido: Mitsuhara Tsumura, who studied in Rhode Island and trained in Osaka, Japan, is one of the latest Nikkei innovators. He serves innovative Nikkei plates like Nigiri with foie gras with Maras salt and even Okonomiyaki, a type of Japanese pizza that very suddenly is becoming a NYC trend. www.maido.pe.
- Madam Tusan: Acurio’s first foray into the chifa, Peru’s signature Chinese restaurants with Peruvian flair, is surprisingly good. The problem with most chifas in Lima is they use such low quality ingredients that they end up all tasting the same. Acurio’s standards help raise the bar. See our full review.
- La Pescaderia: Pedro Miguel Schiaffino (of Malabar fame) designed the kitchen and menu of his seafood exporter cousin’s sustainable concept food stand and cevicheria, La Pescaderia, which began in Callao and recently opened a second location in a historic Barranco house on Avenida Grau.
- Amor Amar: This sophisticated eatery and art gallery in a Republican era mansion, hidden away behind tall walls on an obscure side street, offers more than just seafood. Opened by Victor Away Say-Chang who was once a partner at Pescados Capitales. See our full review.
- El Mercado: The buzz still has not worn off for Rafael Osterling’s trendy cevicheria on Avenida La Mar. Always crowded, the chef offers an oversized menu with influences that extend to South East Asia and the Mediterranean. See our full review.
Street Food and Markets:
- Tia Grimanesa’s: The always crowded anticucheria, which moved indoors from the longtime street corner, makes for one of the most superb meals in town.
- Mercado de Surquillo #1: Come here to see small producers sell products from all over the country, from rainforest cacao to lucuma.
- Huaringas: The pisco sour has taken on a new life here. They’ll still serve you up a classic, though you have choices here. The pisco sour isn’t just a tangy lime, but can be served maracuya (passionfruit), coca, ginger, chicha morada (purple corn), or even a spicy Aji Amarillo (Peruvian yellow pepper). www.huaringas.com
- Quimera: Molecular mixology isn’t common in Lima, yet this San Isidro spot gives the chilcano a facelift with house made ginger syrup and a crystallized ginger garnish. Another take on the chilcano infuses the rocoto pepper. www.quimera.com.pe
- In Situ bar and Lobby Lounge: In the new Westin hotel in San Isidro, this trendy pub has a pisco cellar that is 2,000 bottles deep, as well as some original cocktails. www.westinlima.com.pe
- Ayahuasca: A restored Republican era mansion turned art filled cocktail den where pisco is mixed with exotic fruits like carambola, camu camu, aguaymanto, granadilla, and tumbo in macerations and dozens of cocktails. www.ayahuascarestobar.com
- Amaz: This Amazonian pub is opening beside Ache and Los Bachiche in Miraflores sometime soon. Knowing owner/chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino’s high standards this should be quite interesting.
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.