All of us have been in a situation like that before: we are traveling in a foreign country and we don’t know where we to go out to eat. However, we do not want to enter a restaurant and eat food we don’t know just to leave that one disappointed.
Checking restaurants online is not always helpful, because nowadays it’s easy to present oneself in a good light. And therefore making the right decision is quite a challenge.
That’s why in this article, we present traditional Peruvian food from cities such as Lima, Arequipa, Cusco, Puno, Paracas and many more so you can enjoy the incredible Peruvian kitchen during your journey.
What qualifies us to make these recommendations? We have been living in Peru for over 6 years already and we have been traveling through the whole country. This way, we have tried many different dishes in various regions.
In addition we keep getting many recommendations by our travelers and guides as well.
So let’s dive deep into the culinary adventure of one of the best kitchens in the world. Get ready to find out more about Peru’s traditional food regarding appetizers, main courses and desserts.
Peruvian dishes which you definitely have to try while traveling through Peru:
Causa is one of the most popular appetizers in Peru and it is like a potato cake, which consist of different fillings.
There are different variations of Causa, such as Causa filled with chicken, tuna, prawns, lobster and many more.
In addition to that, Causa consists of tomatoes, avocado and eggs. You can enjoy Causa everywhere in Peru – it does not matter in which city you are, it is always an amazing appetizer!
Cities where you should try Causa: Lima, Cusco, Arequipa
2. Papa a la Huancaína
This famous Peruvian dish consists of sliced potatoes and is made of a special sauce: lime juice, Aji Amarillo, cream cheese, garlic, evaporated milk and crackers.
The sauce is doused over the potatoes and on top of it comes a hard boiled egg. Normally, Papa a la Huancaina is served as an appetizer or a small side dish, such as with an Arroz con Pollo.
The origin of this dish is the capital Lima and it got discovered by a Lady of the the city Huancayo, that’s where the name comes from.
Cities where you should try Papa a la Huancaina: Lima
3. Anticuchos de Corazon
I know it sounds weird, I got it, but the grilled bovine hearts (Anticuchos de Corazon) are so delicious!
The heart is leaner than a Filet Mignon, has a more beefy taste than a Ribeye Steak and as it is grilled on an open flame, it is just incredibly tasty.
Especially with a red wine on the side the Anticuchos de Corazon will be delicious. This delicatesse has its origin in the eastern part of the Andes and it is one of the most famous dishes in all of Peru.
Cities where you should try Anticuchos de Corazon: Lima, Cusco, Arequipa
Let’s continue with the famous Ceviche, probably the most traditional Peruvian food. You should definitely try this dish when you are at a coastal city of Peru (such as Lima), because here the fish they serve is very fresh!
One interesting fact is that the Peruvian Ceviche is prepared completely different than in other South American countries.
The white fish is inserted in lime juice with onions and then it will be served as raw fish!
The Ceviche is always served with sweet potatoes (camote) and corn (choclo) in order to reduce the spice of the chilis.
For everyone that likes it a bit crunchy, you can add some more “canchita” (little maize kernel) to your Ceviche.
Cities where you should try Ceviche: Lima
5. Papa Rellena
Papa Rellena is a croquette filled with a meat-mix. It consists of ground beef, tomatoes, garlic, onions and capsicum.
Many chefs add some hard boiled eggs and black olives to give the dish a unique flavor. The mashed potatoes will be formed around the meat-mix and then fried in olive oil.
Papa Rellena is served with the famous Salsa Criolla (a famous Peruvian sauce), which consist of lime juice, vinegar, oil and is marinated with red onions, Peruvian chillis (Aji Amarillo) and parsley.
Keep in mind that this dish will be a little bit more fatty ;-). You can find Papa Rellena as a famous street food and on many local menus.
Cities where you should try Papa Rellena: Cusco, Lima
6. Ají de Gallina
Ají de Gallina is a delicious peruvian dish, which consist out of a chicken, potatoes, crackers, olives, eggs, a chilli cream mix and it is served with rice.
Ají de Gallina is one of the most traditional Peruvian dishes and you have to give it a try during your journey through Peru. Especially when in Cusco you should go for it.
Cities where you should try Ají de Gallina: Cusco, Lima
7. Lomo Saltado
One of the most famous peruvian dishes is the famous Lomo Saltado – it’s a mix of Peruvian and Chinese food.
It consist of sliced tenderloin, onions, tomatoes, french fries and yellow chilis.
You will find Lomo Saltado on almost every menu in every Peruvian Restaurant all over the country.
Cities where you should try Lomo Saltado: Lima
When you are in the centre of Peru, keep your eyes open for the popular dish Pachamanca.
It is a traditional rural dish which consist of vegetables, potatoes, meat and it will be cooked under the soil.
Way back in the past it was served without any meat, but today you will find it with roasted meat, such as beef or pig (in the Andean region).
You can enjoy the traditional Pachamanca in the following cities: Huancayo, Tamara, Jauja, in the Amazon Jungle, as well as in the north & south of the Andean mountains.
Cities where you should try Pachamanca: Huancayo, Tamara, Jauja, Amazonas
Let’s continue with a local delicatesse – guinea pig (Cuy). Annually the Peruvians are eating around 65 million Cuys!
Many of the locals are eating the famous “Cuy al Horno”, where the guinea pig is baked in a wood stove.
This dish is not everyone’s favorite, but when you get the chance you should give it a try and think of the Incas that ate it many years before us.
Cities where you should try Cuy: Cusco
10. Arroz con Pato
This dish is a real Peruvian classic! The rice is cooked with a cilantro paste, spices and dark beer, which will give the dish an earthy flavor. In addition to that, you will get a roasted piece of duck (thigh or breast) which is served on top. This dish is famous in all of Peru and you will most likely find it everywhere.
The speciality of the dish is that it can be prepared in many different variations in regard of the rice-mix, consistency and the meat.
Another version is Arroz con Pollo, which is basically the same only that instead of duck you get a piece of chicken. Arroz con Pato has it origin from Lambayeque, a city in the north of Peru.
Cities where you should try Arroz con Pato: Lambayeque, Lima
11. Pollo a la Brasa
Pollo a la brasa is one of the most popular dishes in Peru! A whole chicken will be marinated in a delicious combination of herbs, garlic, spices and after that it will be grilled.
Therefore it has a bronze color and the skin is crunchy. In addition you will get the famous Huacatay sauce (Peruvian black mint sauce) which will be served to the Pollo a la brasa – one of the best sauces out there!
It is kind of a creamy blend out of mint with cilantro, garlic and chilli on a mayo basis…and almost every Peruvian loves it!
Cities where you should try Pollo a la Brasa: Lima
12. Rocoto Relleno
Rocoto Relleno is another very delicious Peruvian meal. It is a grilled capsicum filled with vegetables and meat before scalloped in pastry.
Since over 5000 years Rocoto Relleno is made in Arequipa and that’s why there is no way you can miss it when you are there.
Cities where you should try Roco Relleno: Arequipa
A part of the Peruvian kitchen is a mix out of Peruvian + Chinese food and is called fusion.
The famous Chaufa is part of a fusion dish and consists of fried rice, Chinese onions, garlic, vegetables, chicken, ginger and everything will be mixed in a wok with soja sauce.
It can also be served with meat, such as beef or pork and also fish fish, such as shrimps or white fish (as you can see on the photo above)! There are over 9000 Chifas (Chifa is the name for a Peruvian-Chinese restaurant) in Lima.
Therefore, Lima is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious Chaufa.
Cities where you should try Chaufa: Lima
14. Chupe de Camarones
This prawn chowder has his origins from the city Arequipa. It consist of a mix of prawns, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cream, cumin, beans and many other ingredients which will be served with a poached egg.
The Chupe de Camarones is a very hearty seafood soup, which you should definitely try when in Arequipa.
Cities where you should try Chupe de Camarones: Arequipa
15. Tacu Tacu
Tacu Tacu is a popular Afro-Peruvian dish, which the Peruvians made in the past to use the remainings of the food.
The word originally comes from Quechua “Takuy”, which means “to mix the one thing with another”.
A traditional Tacu Tacu consist of beans, rice, garlic, pork, beef or egg, a fried banana slice and the whole thing will be seasoned with spicy pepper.
Normally, Tacu Tacu is formed as a hamburger and then it will get fried. Optionally, you have the choice to choose between lima beans, lentils or also chickpeas and add these to the dish.
Cities where you should try Tacu Tacu: Lima
Everyone with a sweet tooth should listen carefully now: Try the delicious Picarones! Picarones are a mix of sweet potatoes, flour and they are served in a delicious honey sauce.
You will find Picarones on almost every street corner in Peru.
Cities where you should try Picarones: Lima (Parque de Kennedy – district: Miraflores)
17. Mazamorra Morada
The popular dessert, Mazamorra Morada, is a hit during the whole year in Peru, especially in the winter and spring months.
The dessert consist of a complex flavor set, such as purple corn, cinnamon and a diversity of fruits, like pineapple, cherry, peach and apricot.
The consistency of Mazamorra Morada is very viscous because of the sweet potato flour, which is responsible for the gelatin-like consistency.
Additionally, some rice pudding is served on the side.
Cities where you should try Mazamorra Morada: Lima, Cusco, Arequipa
That is probably the most famous cookie in all of Latin America – Alfajores! Peruvians love their Alfajores and you will find them literally everywhere, in markets, bakeries or on the street.
The cookie is a kind of sandwich that consists of two soft layers and is filled with Manjar Blanco (a sweet caramel creme).
Some powdered sugar is added on top of it. Alfajores are a little bit dry, taste sweet and are perfect fit with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
Cities where you should try Alfajores: Lima
Enjoy Peru’s incredible Kitchen
We hope that you can try as many of the restaurants mentioned as possible during your Peru tour.
Or have you already been in Peru and we forgot to mention your favorite dish? Please let us know in the comments what your favorite dish is and where we can eat it. By the way, if you live in the United States and you’d like to know where you can get Peruvian food products, we highly recommend Kosmos Peru.
And now that you know what is the best food to try in Peru, we also want to give you our recommendations for what to pack for your trip.
- Lomo Saltado – http://bit.ly/lomosaltadoflickr,
- Anticuchos – http://bit.ly/anticuchosflickr
- Papa a la Huancaina – http://bit.ly/papaalahuancainaflickr
- Pollo a la Brasa – http://bit.ly/polloalabrasaflickr
- Ceviche Papa – https://www.facebook.com/CevicheriaBamBam/
- Papa Rellena – http://bit.ly/paparellenaflickr
- Ají de Gallina – http://bit.ly/ahidegallinaflickr
- Pachamanca – http://www.huancahuasi.com/
- Cuy – http://bit.ly/cuyflickr
- Arroz con Pato – http://bit.ly/arrozconpato
- Rocoto Relleno – http://bit.ly/2Sz7Vb5
- Chupe de Camarones – http://bit.ly/chupeflickr
- Tacu Tacu – http://bit.ly/tacutacuflickr
- Picarones – http://bit.ly/picaronesflickr
- Mazamorra Morada – http://bit.ly/mazamorraflickr
- Alfajores – http://bit.ly/alfajoresflickr