Peruvian cuisine reflects local practices and ingredients—including influences from the indigenous population including the Inca and cuisines brought in with immigrants from Europe (Spanish cuisine, Italian cuisine, German cuisine), Asia (Chinese cuisine and Japanese cuisine) and West Africa. he four traditional staples of Peruvian cuisine are corn, potatoes and other tubers, Amaranthaceaes (Quinoa, Kañiwa and kiwicha) and legumes (beans and lupins).
Central- Lima, Peru
Central is the highest-ranked restaurant in Latin America and the national leader in molecular gastronomy, and criticizing Central feels as uncool as knocking a Radiohead album. Still, the restaurant that blows minds with cactus milk shots and clams encased in citrus foam shells puts innovation over flavor when grating hardened cow hearts or serving algae crisps that taste like fish food flakes. On top of that, the elevator called and wants its music back. The restaurant does win the wicked humor prize for Dead Amazon, a course that includes a chocolaty starfish-shaped cracker. As a warning to the Urban Dictionary illiterates, skip the Facebook post about eating a chocolate-flavored starfish in Lima.
Astrid & Gastón- Lima, Peru
Gastón Acurio retired from AyG last fall, but the restaurant missed not a beat under Diego Muñoz, a vet of the most celebrated kitchens in Europe and Australia. Casa Moreyra reserves its main dining room for tasting menus (25+ courses) with seating times between 7:30pm and 8:30pm. The Memories of My Land theme (confirmed through mid-April) is a narrative-driven dinner that starts on the outdoor terrace with a formerly lost cocktail recipe, and groups then go one-by-one on kitchen tours that include photo ops with chef Muñoz. Recounting traditional Peruvian home culture, the food narrative begins with a child returning home from school and opening a tin of mini-ice cream cones, cream-centered crackers and other sweets. That’s right, the tasting starts and finishes with dessert. Despite near-flawless food courses, AyG lacks wine/cocktail menus so diners must discuss options with the sommelier, who does not volunteer prices. Definitely give the sommelier a price range if ordering wine.
Malabar - Lima, Peru
Pedro Schiaffino’s original ode to the Amazon is still the king of the jungle. Dishes can include quail salad, beef tongue, scallops with calf brain, paiche river fish and lucuma fruit ice cream, and many non-Amazonian items arrive from the Mala farm in the south. The service needs improvement, but the food represents the Amazon’s finest with fascinating jungle twists on Peruvian and Fear Factor food classics.
Rafael- Lima, Peru
Set in a vibrant red 1920s townhouse, the art-adorned Rafael is a mad social scene with diners dripping in soles and sex appeal. The free-spirited approach of charismatic Rafael Osterling includes heavy Nikkei and Italian influence, and his Peruvian-influenced pasta is perfect for Lima’s fish-outta-water vegetarians. The grilled scallops on the shell rule all dishes, but the beer-braised duck, crispy suckling pig and Thai curry fish also deserve raves. Using the freshest fish means options dwindle as the night progresses, and late-night reservations are frustrating since it often takes a crowbar to unglue scenesters from their seats.
IK - Lima, Peru
Maido- Lima, Peru
Before opening his own Nikkei restaurant, Peruvian-born Mitsuharu Tsumura traveled to Osaka, his father’s hometown in Japan, and worked in one of the top sushi restaurants for two years. The sacrifice paved the way for Maido, arguably the best Nikkei restaurant in the world. Maido offers two tastings—a 20-item nigiri experience at the sushi bar and its signature Nikkei tribute—as well as an encyclopedic menu that J.R.R. Tolkien might call longwinded. The Nikkei Experience, which overlaps about 25 percent of the nigiri tasting, features gratings from a wood-like block of fish dried in the sun for three years and an Asian take on Andean rocoto relleno (tempura-style red peppers stuffed with ribeye). The cocktails and dessert are also elite, especially the picturesque Huevo y Nido (Egg and Nest) with a goldenberry yolk, custard apple sorbet and white chocolate shell sitting atop a chocolate-stick nest and cloud of cotton candy.