A quinta in Cuzco is like a huarique in Lima. It is a simple, traditional restaurant that provides regional dishes at local prices. As much as Cuzco has grown and become a global city and home to dozens of massive hotels, the old Cuzco has become more and more obscure. Still if you take a few steps off the beaten tourist paths there are still a few of genuine lunch only quintas to be found.
Cuzco has always been a bit of a wild card in terms of restaurants. While quality products are there, few restaurants have really put them to good use and instead have tried to serve tourist friendly food. That’s beginning to change.
The Mercado Central in Cuzco is in giant warehouse a few blocks away from the main plaza. Unofficially, it also stretches towards the railway tracks, becoming more gritty as it does. The warehouse houses a lot of food stalls, with large sections devoted solely to either fruit drinks, snacks and… Read More →
Most come to Cuzco (also spelled Cusco and Q’osqo, population 350,000) en route to Machu Picchu, but to many it is Cuzco that leaves them breathless, although maybe that’s from the altitude, which stands, at 3360 meters (roughly 11,000 feet) above sea level.
Cusco, Peru is where many travelers to Peru fly to so they can see the famed ruins of Machu Picchu. No direct flights fly to Cusco from international destinations, therefore all travelers flying into Peru have to go through Lima where they can catch any number of cheap daily flights to the Andean capital.
At Cusco restaurant Limo Cocina Peruana & Pisco Bar I sampled this fruity cocktail that has quite a powerful kick thanks to the Aji Limo, a flavorful Peruvian chile pepper.
Ten years ago there were no good restaurants in Cusco, Peru. About five years ago came along Cicciolina, Map Café, and Inka Grill. Two years ago came Rafael Osterling’s Bistrot 370 and Gaston Acurio’s Chi Cha. Now it’s Coque Ossio’s Limo, which I consider on par with Bistrot 370 as the best restaurant in Cusco.
Even though train service to Machu Picchu has been interrupted for at least the next six weeks or so (FYI: a bus/train connection via Santa Teresa is supposedly in the works until it is repaired) and the Inca Trail is closed for it’s annual maintenance in February, there are still plenty of alternatives to spend your time in Peru. There’s much more to Peru than Machu Picchu. Sure, it’s a world wonder and a UNESCO world heritage site, but there’s 11 other world heritage sites in Peru too.
Now that McDonald’s and soon a Starbuck’s have infiltrated Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas (please boycott these), I thought it was time to paint a picture on what options there are for the foodie in the tourist bubble that is Cuzco, Peru. While pizzerias, backpacker cafes, and pubs are popular, if you only spend your money at these places you will miss out on the bounty of Andean recipes and ingredients that are right under your nose.
Cusco, once a culinary wasteland, is increasingly becoming a high watermark of Peruvian cuisine. No other places in the Andes apart from maybe Quito, Ecuador has such an impressive gastronomic scene. While restaurants like Bistrot 370 are redefining the city, outside in the Sacred Valley where things have always been a little bit more laid back.