Eating well in a country that is, besides a small handful of places, completely off the beaten track? Yes, ma’am! Not only is Peru a fantastic destination thanks to its ruins, culture and nature, but you’ll be fed well too! What more could you ask for?
It’s obvious that the Peruvians, who are all about 155 cm (5 ft) tall, are fed well too, so being short and round is the norm. No wonder—serving sizes are massive and they love their meats and fats.
As a bonus, the prices are incredibly low for what you get. You can eat for as little as s/10, which is about USD 2.50, or splurge and eat in a Michelin-level restaurant for s/60. You read that right. A gourmet meal for USD 15!
Bonus number two is that the service in Peruvian restaurants was generally really good. Sometimes a little slow, but always jovial and helpful.
I see all you foodies wanting to get over to Peru right this very minute, so I’ll tell you where to eat when you get there. You can head straight over to these top restaurants in Lima, Machu Picchu, Cusco, Arequipa and Paracas and dig right in. We’re only recommending the ones we’ve tried personally and loved.
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Let’s start with South America’s food capital, Lima. You’re bound to spend some time in Lima on your trip to Peru, since it’s where everyone flies in and out of.
All of these restaurants are in the Miraflores neighborhood, which is the only neighborhood I recommend staying in. The only exception is Astrid y Gaston, which is in the business district. Read more about what we really thought about Lima in our full Lima guide.
This restaurant is one of the top 100 in the world, so we went in with high expectations. Maybe too high. Astrid y Gaston was great, but I think we wanted our taste buds to explode with delight and have the food there be one of our finest memories. That didn’t quite happen, but I know it was a tall order.
We loved the gyoza. The ceviche was epic. The seafood udon was just ok. Overall not bad at all—I don’t just throw the word epic around lightly. But somehow, even with all the good, it just wasn’t the best restaurant that we tried in Lima.
Another top restaurant in Lima, Mayta probably had the most interesting and innovative dishes we experienced in Peru. Very tasty. The ceviche was amazing, and the fish from the Amazon with shitake was incredible. I wasn’t a fan of the pasta, but that’s on me since I don’t like pumpkin (it was good otherwise).
We loved the earthy feel of Mayta. Everything is in natural tones with lots of greenery, with meals served on stone plates and platters.
With a terrace that hangs over the cliffs above the ocean, Mangos has location going for it, that’s for sure. If you get a chance to actually sit on that terrace, that is the million-dollar question. Definitely get a reservation. Mangos is part of the Larcomar Mall.
The food isn’t gourmet, but rather a delicious rendition of regular staples. Case in point: I had a fabulous burger and Karin enjoyed her Caesar salad. Prices are on the higher end.
Where Mangos needs to improve is the notoriously slow service. I’ve talked to people that believe they like to ignore English-speakers and just take care of the locals. Still, very good food.
Normally I wouldn’t recommend a hotel restaurant, because they usually aren’t anything to write home about. But this Hilton Hotel restaurant was great. Props for English-speaking staff that were attentive and professional.
The atmosphere at Social was enjoyable, with music playing and people chatting.
If you happen to stay at the Hilton in Lima Miraflores, you’ll also get a very nice breakfast in this restaurant. I like me a good breakfast!
Tip: We have only good things to say about the Hilton Hotel Miraflores and loved our 3 days there. The rooftop spa, spectacular staff and glamour-style rooms were a treat to stay in. The fantastic Social restaurant just adds a cherry on top (see above). If you click through our booking.com link to make a reservation at the Hilton, or any other hotel, we get a small commission, but you don’t pay anything extra. Thank you if you do!
Our top tips for restaurants in Peru:
We urge you to make time to spend at least a couple of days in Paracas. The Paracas Natural Reserve was one of our ultimate favorite places to visit in Peru, because it’s where the desert comes to a cliffy end and turns into the ocean. It makes for some spectacularly dramatic views.
Add on the Ballestas Islands with thousands of birds, the desert oasis of Huacachina and the vineyards of Ica, and you’ve got yourself a destination!
Paracas is also where the epic DoubleTree Resort by Hilton is located, otherwise known as our favorite hotel in Peru. We aren’t usually such big fans of international hotel chains, but in Peru, it’s the only way to go. You can read our detailed account of the DoubleTree Resort in the article about Paracas, because we loved it. Loved it loved it loved it.
Not surprisingly, the first restaurant on our Paracas list is the hotel restaurant at the DoubleTree Resort, El Pardo al Mar. Seriously, how much praise for one hotel is too much praise? The praise spills over to the stylish and beachy El Prado al Mar Restaurant.
We had a fantastic steak and a steak tartar, but they also do contemporary Peruvian food alongside the international dishes.
The staff were amazing, and the views of the beautiful pool area and the smell of the ocean air had us feeling thankful for such a wonderful vacation setting.
La Tia Fela is one of several restaurants grouped together right on the sand in the middle of Paracas National Reserve. The freshest fish will feed you finely here! (That was a Dr. Seuss reference if didn’t get it.)
You might be sitting on plastic chairs and the windows don’t have any glass in them, but you’ll be eating like Poseidon… though now that I think about it, I doubt the god of the sea would eat his own creatures. Anyway, the fish were unbelievable, so unless you rule the waters, you should go and eat the fish at La Tia Fela.
This restaurant is part of Hacienda La Caravedo—the oldest distillery in South America that was established in 1684. La Caravedo is also a fantastic hotel, so go ahead and stay over if you want to laze away amongst the vineyards of Ica.
We took a great free tour of the distillery and stocked up on pisco, the grape brandy. Read all about it in our article about places to visit in and around Paracas National Reserve (Ica is about an hour’s drive from Paracas town).
We had some fantastic food at Los Horcones Restaurant. Don’t expect little bitty mounds of food in the middle of your fancy plate, these guys give you proper serving sizes. Pair that with the famed pisco sour cocktail and you’ll be living the life!
It was a very pleasant day at La Caraveda. Definitely pay them a visit if you can.
If you’re going to Peru, you’re going to Cusco. Because I know you’re going to Machu Picchu, and Cusco is where you’ll start your journey to the Inca city. But Cusco is a destination in itself, with Inca ruins in and around the city, and the spectacular Sacred Valley on its doorstep. Head to this article for more day trips from Cusco.
You’ll want to hang out in Cusco and Sacred Valley for a few extra days in order to get used to the high altitude of the region. You want to do everything you can to prevent mountain sickness if you’re planning on any of the hikes, like Rainbow Mountain.
And since you’re staying for a while, you’ll also be eating a lot. Here are the places we liked:
I know I’m starting to sound like a Hilton sales representative here, but the Garden Grille is another Hilton Hotel restaurant we tried (it’s located in the Hilton Garden Inn Cusco) and it’s wonderful.
Huge serving sizes and top-quality food was why we loved the Garden Grille. Not that we need to eat huge portions, but it’s nice to be able to fill your belly! Especially when you’ve got days of hiking ahead of you.
The interior is nothing special, standard hotel design, but the views over Cusco’s rooftops and the mountains in the background take it up a notch. Staff moved at a very casual speed.
Top it all off with a fantastic pisco sour and you’ll be happy at the Hilton’s Garden Grille Restaurant.
Do you like chicken? Uchu does the best chicken I’ve ever had. It was as grandiose as chicken can get! I’m salivating now just thinking about it. I had the peruano kebab and was in love. Even the salad that came with it was well seasoned.
Uchu was a totally random restaurant choice for us. We didn’t plan on going there but passed by it since its right near the central tourist spots you’re going to want to see in Cusco. There’s a nice little garden in front with lots of flowers and a few tables which caught our attention.
Not only was the food good, but the service was fast and friendly. Definitely a top restaurant in Cusco.
While Uchu will feed you no matter how starving you are, Organika is more a quality-over-quantity-type place. You know everything here is made out of fresh ingredients—they have their own garden in the Sacred Valley! If you want healthy and organic, this is the spot for you.
We had an interesting pizza, and I use the word “interesting” because it wasn’t anything like the Italian original. It was…fluffy! But good. We also tasted the arugula tiramisu. A unique twist on the classic tiramisu but really tasty. I hope you like eating flowers!
The interior is simple and cozy, you feel like you’re visiting a friend’s house.
This is a charming restaurant/cafe with Peruvian decorations and handicraft products all over the place. You can support local communities by purchasing the items on display.
Aulita’s food is contemporary fusion and the owner is a mixologist, creating bespoke cocktails for guests. They also sell craft beer and wines.
Not to be confused with the restaurant in Cusco of the same name, this El Maqt’a is a little local gem in Sacred Valley. See here for the location of El Maqt’a and don’t expect a website.
We stopped by on our way to Moray and Maras Inca sites and were welcomed by the wonderful hosts. The food was authentically Peruvian and delicious. They offer local specialties such as chicha—a fermented corn drink, chicharon—a braised pork sandwich, and cuy—guinea pig. We had the chicha.
The simple interior has big windows and perfect views.
Before you drive up the mountain to Machu Picchu, you will need to get on the bus that takes you there (there is no other way… read our Machu Picchu guide for details). That bus leaves from Machu Picchu Pueblo, otherwise known as Aguas Calientes.
You will probably end up staying a night or two in Machu Picchu Pueblo, especially if you’re hoping to see the sunrise at Machu Picchu (in another article we tell you why we think the sunrise at Machu Picchu is completely overrated!), though hotels like the magical Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel could persuade you to stay a while!
We could’ve spent half a day on Chullos’ balcony over the Urubamba River. Those views! You could feel the power of the water rushing past, and with the mountains up above you, there’s hardly a better spot to have your dinner. This is, in our opinion, the best Machu Picchu restaurant to go to.
The service at Chullos was second to none and get this—they make their own beer, and it’s good! In a country that forced me to not drink beer because it tastes so bad everywhere, the beer at Chullos was definitely a game-changer.
Oh and I almost forgot to mention the food was divine. Chullos gets all my love.
What stood out at Green House was the excellent service. Everyone we saw working at the restaurant was full of energy and doing their best to provide their customers everything and anything they please.
The food at Green House will make you especially happy if you’ve had enough steaks and heavy meals and want to chow down on something healthy for a change. Their dishes are all colorful and full of veggies, herbs and sometimes flowers. Meat and meatless meals are available. Everything we tried was awesome.
The White City is where you base yourself if you want to see the second deepest canyon in the world, Colca Canyon, or if you want to climb El Misti volcano. There are more things to do in Arequipa itself, so you might just end up staying in town for a while. And you’ll need to eat. Where?
If you like pasta, you’ll love Pasta Canteen. And they also have pizza, so it’s like comfort food heaven.
You get delicious, perfectly cooked homemade pasta that you can tweak to your own taste. The servers are friendly and will help you make the right choice if you get analysis paralysis while trying to decide if mushrooms go better together with cream or tomato sauce.
Before your personalized pasta, they bring you a tasty salad and garlic bread.
The interior of Pasta Canteen is a cool wood + concrete mix and naked light bulbs hanging from the ceiling. There’s a cozy rooftop terrace with lots of plants, too.
The “13 Nuns” has very clearly built a name for itself in Arequipa. So naturally we had to go and see what the fuss is about.
The restaurant is in a side street next to the spectacular Santa Catalina Monastery, in a stone house. The interior matches the building and location nicely, with high, arched ceilings, nun photos on the walls and a mix of wooden chairs and comfortable, mismatched lounge chairs. The music adds to the ambience. Cozy and cool.
There are also a few tables outside that are inviting. The only thing that needs a lot more attention are the toilets.
We thought 13 Monjas had great food—the steak I had was delicious. They also serve staples such as pizza, pasta and sandwiches that are well presented and made using organic ingredients. Everything we tried or saw walk past us looked amazing.
We enjoyed the craft beer, especially the Belgian brand on offer. So for us, 13 Monjas deserves its reputation and warrants a visit.
I’m working up an appetite just writing about these places! I think I’ll head over to the Food and Drinks of Peru article I’m working on and dream about some ceviche and chicha.
Or try these articles to inspire your growling stomach:
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If you only have 3 days for Sacred Valley and Cusco, you’ll be missing out on some good places. But, I’ll try to be a silver-lining kind of guy this time and smash as much as possible into those 3 days in Cusco.
Peruvians are some of the kindest, most helpful and courteous people I’ve met during my travels. Until you put them in the driver’s seat. Then they turn into aggressive, angry, idiotic monsters. Especially in Lima.