The bohemian neighborhood of Barranco – a historical, protected area of the city, full of art galleries and private residences, is on the map for the first time because of a slew of high profile art related openings like Mario Testino’s MATE cultural center, the new Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC), and its first luxury hotel, Arts Boutique Hotel B. It’s Lima’s most emblematic hood and busting with creative energy, which extends into food. Here’s where to eat and drink in Barranco:
La Trastienda: This Jordi Puig designed gastropub opened in August and is the latest hot spot under the Puente de los Suspiros. Opened by former Congressman Carlos Bruce in the former Chala space, the mostly white mansion serves a variety of innovative house cocktails, some being molecular, and Peruvian tapas. Bajada de Baños 343; 511-247-6150.
Amor Amar: This hard to find closed door restaurant opened in April 2010 and might be the most beautiful restaurant set up in Lima, if not all of Peru. The leafy walled compound holds a 110-year-old house turned art gallery surrounded by an open air dining patio, long bar, wood fired clay oven, and orchid shop. Headed by Victor Away Chang-Say, the food mixes touches of Peru with the Mediterranean. Garcia y Garcia 175; 511-619-9595.
El Comedor at Hotel B: The 17-suite boutique hotel opened in June in a 1914 Belle Époque mansion, adjacent to Lima’s premier contemporary art gallery Lucia de la Puente, that has been carefully restored and might be the most significant hotel to open in Lima in a decade. El Comedor is their Peruvian-Mediterranean restaurant and bar from Oscar Velarde, who owns La Gloria, long considered the preeminent restaurants in Lima by many. San Martín 301; 511-206-0800.
La Pescaderia: Pedro Miguel Schiaffino – of Malabar, Amaz, and Aqua Expeditions fame – helped design the menu at this sustainable cebicheria and market owned by his fish exporter cousin. It’s in a sleek historic building has been spruced up with ornate tiles and black and white photos of the famed Cabo Blanco fishing club. The restaurant has a second location in Callao. Avenida Grau 689; 511-586-8423.
LA 73 Paradero Gourmet: This pleasant Peruvian bistro, open since 2006, was named after the bus line that passes by the restaurant. All red and white tiles with pop art, the restaurant has reenergized a chalkboard list of homey national classics with contemporary touches, like in their updated versions of pastel de choclo and even churros. Avenida El Sol Oeste 175; 511-247-0780.
Ayahuasca: Set in a grand old Republican mansion in a maze of classical wood trimmed salons decorated with wall size art installations like glass lottery wheels filled with scraps of Andean textiles, stacks of bundled newspapers, and glass aquariums lined with huayruro seeds, dried flowers, and multi-hued bottles. Cocktails are mostly pisco based and there’s an unusually long list of macerations that steep Amazonian fruits in pisco. There are a few snacks and small plates available. Open since 2008. Avenida San Martin 130.
La Esquina Wine Bar: Lima has long lacked in decent wine bars, so it was a welcome surprise when this Miraflores corner spot opened a few blocks from my apartment in 2006. Now they have added a larger, posher Barranco location, which lacks some of the casualness of the original that I love, but it’s still the best wine spot in the hood. Jiron Centenario 165, 511-242-2456.
Canta Rana: Open for nearly 30 years, Canta Rana, is one of Lima’s most beloved cevicherias. The corner spot on a side street not far from Barranco’s plaza owned by Buenos Aires born Vicente Furgiuele, is covered with old family photos and images of the neighborhood, as well as various other knickknacks that leave very few pieces of the wall uncovered. The soulful dishes like langostinos al ajillo (garlic shrimp), seafood tacu tacu, and fried chita are free of frills. Genova 101; 511-247-7274.
Canta Ranita: The owner of Canta Rana’s son, also called Vicente, launched this small stall in the tucked away Barranco Mercadito (Mercado El Capullo) two years ago and it has attracted a steady stream of hipster types in the otherwise unassuming market with a corrugated tin roof. Though it’s very inexpensive, they serve beautiful causas (see this beautiful footage from Roads & Kingdoms) and sudados. Mercado el Capullo, Jr. Unión 14.
Cala: Some might even say Cala isn’t in Barranco, as it sits below the neighborhood on the Costa Verde. The two level spot is owned by Alfredo owner Alfredo Aramburu and serves eclectic Peruvian dishes with Mediterranean and Asian influences. There’s everything from risotto to sushi to lomo saltado flavored scallops. The downstairs bar and lounge features a lovely terrace where the Pacific Ocean rolls underneath. Circuito de playas; 511-252-9187.
Mi Peru: One of the best known huariques in Barranco, Mi Peru, open since 1972 on the corner of Plaza Butters, specializes in crab. Their specialty is their concentrado de cangrejo, a crab and tomato stew typical of the north coast. Lunch only. Avenida Lima 861; 511-247-7682.
Other Barranco restaurants and bars worth visiting:
Tio Mario: An anticucheria directly beside the Puente de los Suspiros. Paseo Chabuca Granda; 511-477-0301.
Santos Cafe & Espirituosos: A young crowd, cheap drinks, and nice view from the balconies. Jiron Zepita 203; 511-247-4609.
Picas: A Jordi Puig designed restaurant and lounge with a pleasant patio. DJs most nights and open to 3am. Bajada de Baños 340.
Café Bisetti: Sophisticated Peruvian coffees. Avenida Pedro de Osma 116; 511-713-9565.
Sanguchería Refilo: Peruvian sandwiches. Open late. Avenida Grau 393; 511-923-0452.
La Noche: A cultural institution. Live music, comedy, art, theater, readings, etc. Avenida Bolognesi 307.
Did we miss anything? Let us know!
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.