“…For all of you Peruvian food buffs out there, you’ll probably think I am crazy if I tell you my favourite dish was Salsa Criolla…”
I love food. Yes I do. I love food that punches me in the face and screams “FLAVOUR!!!!!!!” So when my wife and I travelled throughout the coast of Peru, we went hunting for the most renowned and popular restaurants in the country.
For all of you Peruvian food buffs out there, you’ll probably think I am crazy if I tell you my favourite dish was “Salsa Criolla“. I ate it on its own, with fish, rice, pasta, potatoes, camote, cuy, tacu tacu – well, I did say everything!
The following restaurants are just some that were highly recommended to me. They are very popular and renowned for their signature dishes throughout Peru.
- El Refugio de Mamaine: Location El Carmen, Chincha (150klms south of Lima) – For the best Afro-Peruvian in all of Peru. Mamaine currently holds the Guinness record for the largest Carapulcra ever made.
- Restaurante Don Tato: Location Barranca, 300klms north of Lima) – For the best Tacu Tacu in all of Peru. Don Tato was proclaimed as the best Tacu Tacu chef in all of Peru by world renowned Peruvian gastronomic legend Gaston Acurio.
- El Rincon del Pato: Location Lambayeque (300klms north of Trujillo) – Duck is their signature dish, their flagship space saucer. Definitely worth a try… just fingerlickin’ good. And, the attention to service was second to none. Our waitress was delightfuly friendly. I have never received such service anywhere else in the world.
- El Restaurante de Cesar: Location Tortugas: (320klms north of Lima) – Well, Don Cesar is friends with Mamaine and Tato, and has been cooking for over 30 years. It says a lot about his calibre as a Peruvian chef. His fish is fresh and purchased every morning from local fishermen. The high season in Tortugas is between late November through to February. I personally felt that an early October visit was splendid as we had the entire beach and Tortugas to ourselves! I have to say it was the best Ceviche and fried salt water fish I ate in Peru.
- El restaurante El Horno: Location Chivay (220 klms north west of Arequipa) – El Horno is mention worthy for its entertainment and warm homely feeling. We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and the smell of woodfired pizza in the middle of nowhere is quite homely and reassuring. The Wititi Warriors also played music and their dancers put on a spectacular show. One of the tourist ladies got her ass spanked, twice (and she told the dancer off, who didn’t seem to care the least) – it was quite a memorable night!
- Panchita: Location Lima – Of all of the flagship restaurants in Peru, one would expect a Gaston Acurio bannered restaurant to be of the utmost prestigious standard in presentation, taste and standard, and I was not disappointed. The attention to service was fantastic, the waiters were present and very helpful. I really tried, honestly, but I could not finish my delicious 350 gram grilled beef steak, while Letty polished those mean anticuchos… They gave me a take home doggy bag that was reminiscent of a Tiffany’s jewellery hand bag. Impressed!
- The last place that deserves a standing ovation (and it was my personal favourite by a long mile) was the chicken “a la brasa” at Don Tito’s restaurant in Lima. Scrumpdidleycious chicken – charcoal roasted Peruvian style, juicy, crispy and heavenly golden coloured… If you love KFC then you will fall in a deeply euphoric and mesmerising food coma when you try Don Tito’s chicken. Don Tito – the real finger lickin’ gooden chicken.
Finally, there was one last restaurant I really wanted to visit but never managed to get there. It is called “El Rancho de Robertin” in Huaral, and Robertin’s speciality is roast pork – apparently, when the pork is cooked, the chef takes the meat off the bone with a plate (not a knife) – he just runs the plate along the pork and it is so soft and tender that it falls off into another plate… Yuuuuummmmmooooo!!!
If you can guess or know what each dish is, I would gladly update this post to include your knowledge… obviously the easy dishes are Ceviche and Tacu Tacu… what are the others??