In 2009, after expanding his restaurant empire around the world, Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio opened two new restaurants in the provinces of Peru, his first outside of the confines of the capital of Lima. The two restaurants, both named Chi Cha, bring Acurio’s signature style to two of Peru’s largest cities: Arequipa & Cuzco. Each skews toward regional dishes and ingredients, though also serves a wider national cuisine and Acurio originals. The dining rooms are elegant, yet they’re not stuffy nor is the food over priced. As with most of Acurio’s restaurants, the bar menu is creative with a dozen or so Pisco based cocktails that go beyond a traditional Pisco Sour.
Unbelievably, Chi Cha Cuzco, which opened in February 2009, is the first restaurant in Cuzco for Acurio. I think it is one of his best concepts because it focuses on Andean and regional ingredients rather than his other restaurants that skew towards general Peruvian fusion. The one dining room restaurant is set in a beautiful beamed ceiling colonial building and serves highly original dishes such as Rocoto Relleno Pizza, Creamed Corn with Lamb Chops, and Huaracondo Pork.
At Chi Cha Arequipa, entered through a stone courtyard in the colonial center of the white city, the dining rooms are quite stunning, set in sillar stone wall rooms as well as an additional interior courtyard. Specialty Arequipeña dishes like ocopa, solterito, escribano, cauche, and sarsa de patitas de cerdo (pork leg salad) are what you should order.
Chi Cha Cuzco
Calle Plaza Regocijo 261
Chi Cha Arequipa
Calle Santa Catalina 210 #105
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.