Peruvian Street Food: Discover The Must-Try Dishes

Peruvian Street Food: Discover The Must-Try Dishes

Peru is not only famous for its beautiful tourist sites but also for its delicious gastronomy – and its street food. Peruvian street food is a delicious and diverse culinary experience that showcases the country’s rich history and cultural influences.

From the crowded streets of Lima to the small villages in Cusco, there is a variety of Peruvian food you have to try: ceviche, empanadas, churros, to name a few. Overall, Peruvian street food offers a wide range of flavors and unique ingredients that will tantalize your taste buds.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most popular street foods in Peru and more about the culture and history that make them so unique. Grab a plate and let’s go!

Table of contents:

Popular Peruvian Street Foods

ceviche on a blue plate that stands on a grey platform

In the following, we’ll list some of the foods typical for the Peruvian gastronomy that you should definitely try during your travels.

  • Ceviche: A popular seafood dish made with fresh fish or shellfish, marinated in lime juice and spiced with chili peppers and cilantro. It is served with sweet potatoes and corn nuts.
  • Empanadas: A type of pastry filled with meat, cheese or other ingredients that are deep-fried or baked.
  • Tacu Tacu: A traditional Peruvian dish made with beans and rice, often served with meat or fish.
  • Lomo Saltado: One of the most famous Peruvian dishes that is made with stir-fried beef, onions, rice, french fries, tomatoes and cilantro.
  • Anticuchos: Skewers of grilled meat, typically made with beef heart and marinated in a spicy sauce.
  • Papa a la Huancaina: Boiled potatoes served with a spicy, creamy sauce made from Peruvian yellow chili pepper, cheese and milk.
  • Salchipapas: A very popular fast food in Peru that combines a serving of french fries with slices of sausages.
  • Churros: A traditional sweet pastry that is deep-fried, sprinkled with sugar and can be filled with caramel, chocolate or fruits.
  • Picarones: Sweet doughnuts made from a mixture of sweet potato and flour, served with a molasses-based syrup.
  • Causa: A traditional Peruvian dish made of mashed potatoes filled with ingredients such as chicken, tuna, avocado and topped with sauces and other ingredients.


chicha morada in a cup with a lemon on the side and next to it purple corn

Some popular Peruvian beverages that you can also purchase on the street are:

  • Chicha Morada: A popular non-alcoholic beverage made from purple corn, cinnamon, cloves and sweetened with lime juice and sugar.
  • Maca: A beverage mainly consumed in the morning made of a root vegetable that grows in the Andes Mountains of Peru and is commonly known as a superfood.
  • Emoliente: A mixture of herbs, grains and fruits that is believed to have medicinal properties and is consumed for its soothing effect on the digestive system.


Street Food Culture in Peru

History of Peruvian Street Food

tamales with onions on grey platform

The history of Peruvian street food is rooted in the country’s indigenous and colonial past. The Incas, for example, had a rich tradition of street food vendors who sold foods, such as roasted guinea pig and other meats.

With the arrival of the Spaniards, new ingredients and cooking methods were introduced, leading to the fusion of indigenous and European flavors that define the Peruvian cuisine today.

Street food vendors continued to be an important part of the Peruvian culture, particularly in the cities where they provide a convenient and affordable way for people to enjoy traditional dishes.


Explanation of the Street Food Scene in Peru

man with beard and tatoos on hand is eating peruvian street food

The street food scene in Peru is a very vibrant and essential part of the country’s culture. You’ll find street food vendors in every city and town, offering a wide variety of traditional dishes at an affordable price.

Next to the traditional street food vendors, you’ll also find street food markets and food fairs that take place regularly. They provide a chance to sample a variety of different street foods in one place. What makes these Peruvian markets and fairs so special is that they are often held in historic or cultural areas. Thus, they provide a unique opportunity to connect with the local culture and cuisine.

Street food is a convenient and affordable way to taste the traditional dishes in Peru. The vendors are often family-run businesses that have been passed down through generations. Thus, they take great pride in their recipes, cooking techniques and culture.

Embrace the unique mix of culture, history and delicious dishes that will appeal to your taste buds.


Popular Street Food Markets in Peru

locals sitting on stone stairs with local food

As you’re already familiar with the most popular Peruvian street food dishes, we’d now like to present you some of the best street food markets in Peru:

  1. Mercado Central in Lima: One of the most historic markets and a must-visit for any food lover. Once there, you’ll find vendors selling a wide range of street foods, including ceviche, lomo saltado, causa and more.
  2. Mercado de Surquillo in Lima: This market is a great place to try a variety of street foods from different regions of Peru. You can find vendors selling traditional dishes from the coast, the jungle and the mountains.
  3. San Pedro market in Cusco: It’s located in the heart of the city and offers a variety of traditional dishes, such as empanadas, anticuchos and more.
  4. Mercado de San Camilo in Arequipa: This market is known for its traditional street foods, such as churros, picarones and is a great place to try the local cuisine.
  5. Mercado de San Pedro in Puno: A popular destination for street food lovers, you can find vendors selling a wide range of traditional dishes.

Once in Peru, make sure to check out some of these street food markets and try the typical dishes we listed above.


Tips for Trying Peruvian Street Food

anticuchos on grill

After reading about the different Peruvian street foods, you’re probably more than ready to try them all. However, if you are new to the street food scene, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

  1. Look for busy vendors: Street food vendors that are busy with customers are a good sign that the food is fresh and popular. It’s better to avoid vendors that have been sitting around for a long time with almost no customers.
  2. Check the hygiene: Make sure the vendors are keeping their food and preparation area clean. Avoid vendors that don’t look clean or don’t handle their food properly.
  3. Start with small portions: When trying street food for the first time, it’s better to start with small portions and test your tolerance. Why? Some street food can be quite spicy or heavily seasoned.
  4. Be open-minded: Street food is a great way to try new dishes and experience the unique flavors of the Peruvian cuisine.
  5. Bring hand sanitizer: Vendors may not always have easy access to clean running water, so it’s best to bring your own hand sanitizer or wet tissues with you to ensure you can keep your hands clean.
  6. Pay attention to the prices: Some street food vendors may try to overcharge tourists, so it’s best to go with a local guide or check the prices in advance.

By following these recommendations, you can make sure to enjoy the delicious street food and not experience any negative side effects.


Embrace the Culinary Adventure Through Peru

peruvian street food vendor

In the end, the street food scene in Peru is a culinary delight and will be an unforgettable part of your Peru trip. From the classic ceviche to the innovative Peruvian fusion cuisine dishes, there is something for every taste bud.

The diverse range of flavors and ingredients used in the street food is a reflection of the country’s rich cultural heritage. Once you are in Peru, make sure to explore its vibrant street food scene and don’t be shy to try out something new.

In case you need any help with planning your Peru tour, feel free to send us an email to

  • 12 February, 2023 at 6:53 am

    Super cool article and I love all of the points.. I wish I would have read all of this a bit earlier. One important point is to start with small portions as you are definitely not used to these amazing spices and herbs. Start small and give your body to get used to it!

    • 13 February, 2023 at 12:33 pm

      Hey Jason, thanks for your comment! You’re absolutely right, it’s best to start step by step with the food, poco a poco as we say in Peru. 🙂 Glad to hear that you love our local food! Which is your favorite dish?


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