Most travellers don’t stay more than a couple of days in Lima before heading to Cusco. For a foodie Lima is really interesting though! Read all about it in my previous blog.
After having an awesome week in Lima, it was time to fly out to Cusco. Lima was unbelievable and I had equal hopes for Cusco. Cusco is the tourist centre of Peru. It’s main draw are the vicinity of the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. It’s a bucket list item for many travellers, which shows in the crowds (and prices) this attraction pulls. Cusco and the neighbouring sacred valley have many more attractions. But as you could probably guess, I want to talk about the food scene in Cusco.
Cusco is a medium size city with about 350k inhabitants, located 3360m above sea level. It’s a must to take some time to adjust to the altitude. Drink enough water or mate de coca (tea)! This is the same leaf they produce cocaine with. But don’t worry, it’s only a small amount of leaves and its perfectly legal. The locals are chewing and drinking it for century’s, because it helps their body’s adjust to the altitude. Don’t over exerted yourself and stay away from alcohol the first few days.
The restaurants in the city centre of Cusco are geared towards tourists. They serve a lot of cheap and mediocre food. But if you know where to look, there are excellent restaurants in Cusco. Although the fine dining scene is nowhere near as exciting as in Lima, there are a couple of restaurants worth visiting if you are into fine dining.
Senzo, restaurant in the beautiful Palacio Nazarenas hotel. A nice hotel if you are looking for some luxury and delicious food. Senzo was formerly managed by Virgillo Martinez, the Top chef from Central in Lima. Recently he broke his ties with the restaurant, but it is still worth a visit if you are looking for a candle light dinner.
Another good restaurant is Chicha. Named after an ancient beer made of corn. It’s located on a small square only a few hundred meters from the plaza de Armas. Chicha is owned by top chef Gaston Acurio. The restaurant is very popular and reservations are recommend. I visit this restaurant every time when I’m in Cusco! It should be on every foodies list.
Most restaurants on the plaza de Armas in Cusco are tourist traps. They serve bland food for low prices. Most menus are very extensive (generally not a good sign) and serve Peruvian, Mexican and Western dishes. Stay away from these places, your bellies will appreciate it. Luckily there are a few good restaurants to be found on the square. My favourite one is Limo, they serve fresh and very tasty Peruvian-Asian food. Their ceviches and tiraditos (Peruvian version of sashimi) are amazing. The sushi is also worth trying. The price are really fair, considering the quality of the food. I love this place for lunch because their menu is very light. They also serve a mean Pisco cocktail!
Next to Limo you can find the Inka grill. It’s a nice place to have dinner, there’s live music every night. They serve Andean cuisine, which is quite heavy. A lot of different kinds of meat on the menu; Lamb, beef, alpaca, cuy (guinea pig) and pork. So sit down, order a bottle of (Peruvian) red wine and enjoy the evening.
The bohemian neighbourhood of San Blas is not far from the plaza the Armas. In this area you find a lot of small boutiques, art galleries and nice restaurants. My favourite restaurant is Pachapapa. It has a beautiful courtyard and is a good place for either lunch or dinner. In the courtyard there’s a big wood fired oven, that spits out delicious pizza’s and other dishes. Besides pizza’s, they serve traditional Andean and Peruvian dishes like Quinao soup, Rocotto Relleno (meat stuffed peppers) and the best Cuy (guinea pig) in town. Order the Cuy one day in advance or be patient and wait an hour. It’s worth the wait!
Other restaurants worth checking out are MAP café, which is located in the pre-colombian art museum. Fine dining and art are combined at this elegant and trendy restaurant.
There are many more good restaurants to be found in Cusco. I really love this city. I was even considering to stay and study in Cusco!