10 of the Best Peruvian Dishes to Try

Peru is surprisingly a very culinary place. It is actually the most diverse place in the world with certain foods such as potatoes, corn, and quinoa. With the mountains and the ocean, there’s a large variety of vegetables, seafood, and meat. In Lima, there are tons of excellent restaurant choices, from hole in the wall places for the locals to high-end fine dining restaurants. In fact, one of Lima’s restaurants is ranked as one of the best in the world, Astrid y Gastón owned by famous world-renown chef Gaston Acurio. While I was not hiking Machu Picchu, I spent a lot of time eating delicious Peruvian food. Here are some of my personal favorites that must be tried while there:

1) Lomo Saltado

A classic Peruvian dish with grilled steak, onions, red peppers, and french fries. A delicious take on the standard meat and potatoes, this dish can be found in almost every Peruvian restaurant. This is the perfect comfort dish and one of the easiest dishes to eat (unlike some of the other delicacies like guinea pig).

iPhone 2013 161

2) Cuy (Guinea Pig)

For the more adventurous eaters, definitely try Guinea Pig or Cuy. The restaurant we visited in Cusco, Pachapapa, cooks whole guinea pig, but there are plenty of places that just serve it steak style. It’s actually quite delicious, as it is typically grilled or baked with a crispy skin. The meat tastes like chicken (like all mysterious meats) and a bit like rabbit and is actually quite good.

iPhone 2013 424   iPhone 2013 172

3) Llama

Llama and al paca are both very common animals in Peru, much like sheep are very common in certain places in the world like Northern Europe and New Zealand. Therefore, you must try the llama meat. It looks very similar to steak and tastes pretty close to beef, but just a little chewier or tougher. It’s best to get it cooked medium – medium rare.

iPhone 2013 173

4) Ceviche

Some of the best and freshest ceviche can be found in Lima. Ceviche is a raw fish that is cooked using lime juice as a natural chemical agent. It’s incredibly light and delicious. Especially for those sushi fans out there, you must try different types of ceviche in Peru.

iPhone 2013 334

5) Empanadas

Very common throughout Latin and South America, Peruvian empanadas are slightly different than most. They are typically baked in an oven and not deep fried. The outside is more bread-like vs. more flaky dough. Additionally, you can find some more native Peruvian empanadas, such as ones with cuy (guinea pig) inside, or more traditional types with beef or cheese.

iPhone 2013 400

6) Anticuchos

Delicious grilled meats on a skewer. Who doesn’t like meat on a stick? The most common types of anticuchos are made of beef or chicken and include some veggies on it such as onions or peppers. The grilled meats are seasoned simply with salt and pepper and usually come with various types of dipping sauces on the side. For the more adventurous, get beef hearts or chicken hearts.

iPhone 2013 159   iPhone 2013 443

7) Pollo a la Brasa

Pollo a la Brasa is grilled blackened chicken seasoned with salt and served with giant portions of french fries. It’s so simple, but delicious. Starting to see the grilled meat trend in Peruvian food? We went to Pardos Chicken, which is a popular chain restaurant that feels like an Applebee’s and is located all over Peru. It’s super popular with the locals, as it’s really reasonably priced and serves giant portions.

iPhone 2013 444

8) Chifa

Chinese people have literally left their mark all over the world, including the culinary world of Peruvian cuisine. Believe it or not, Chinese food is SUPER popular in Peru and has been customized to have a Peruvian-Chinese taste. Chifa is a word typically used just in Peru to describe chao fan or fried rice. It’s actually quite delicious, as you can get different types of fried rice with more spices and with exotic Peruvian meats such as llama.

iPhone 2013 449

9) Causa Rellena

This dish is a layered potato dish which usually sandwiches avocado, chicken, and other veggies such as red peppers or peas. It’s like a Peruvian casserole. The image on the left is the more traditional form, however, I’ve had the potato deep fried before too like on the right. Both are rather delicious and worth a try!

iPhone 2013 381  iPhone 2013 280


10) Cochinillo

Mmm who doesn’t love a nice and crispy pork dish? The best one I had was at a Gaston Acurio restaurant in Lima called Panchita, among many other delicious grilled meat dishes. It’s basically a baby suckling pig roasted until it’s skin is super crispy. The meat was also incredibly tender. Definitely recommend trying this one!


iPhone 2013 162

Other Notable Mentions

Obviously, Peru is the land of quinoa, potatoes, and corn. Try as many different varieties as possible. Each one is surprisingly different in taste, color, and texture.

For drinks, locals love a purple corn drink called chicha, pisco sours, and Inca Cola (which vaguely reminds me of Mountain Dew mixed with bubble gum).

Are there other Peruvian dishes that you love? Let us know what are some of your favorite items and where you can get them!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s