Lima is renowned for its food. Whether you are looking for top chefs and Michelin stars or local fusion food done really well, Peru’s capital is now topping food lists around the world.
The array of foods on offer can seem a little daunting especially as a backpacker looking to experience as much as possible in this food paradise on a limited budget.
For a top brunch, excellent local food and of course some luxury options thrown in (hey, you deserve it!), here is the ultimate backpacker’s guide to eating in Lima.
Local fusion on a budget
Fusion food is huge in Lima and the most popular is Japanese and Chinese food fused with Peruvian cuisine. Thanks to the multi-cultural nature of Peru, even the country’s national dishes tend to have obvious influences from all over the world.
Lomo saltado, beef and vegetables served with rice and a soy based sauce, plays on Japanese flavours and so does ceviche, a cold dish of raw sea food and lime dressing not completely alien from sushi. Chaufa, fried rice with vegetables and sea food, has obvious connections to China.
So perhaps it is no surprise that some of the top restaurants in Lima are fusion restaurants.
For a budget friendly version of local fusion, head to Chifa Chung Yion in Barranco, a Chinese-Peruvian favourite. You can expect queues of locals outside the door ten minutes before it opens for dinner service which is an obvious good sign. You may be the only ‘gringos’ in the house but as the saying goes, eat where the locals eat!
The menu is huge and you will get a great lomo saltado here. Think tender pieces of beef served sizzling on a hotplate of soy sauce and it also comes with a tower of delicious fried rice with shrimp. You can get a family sized version of this (could feed up to five or six people) for €18 (70 soles) or a single serving for a fiver.
Local fusion splurge
The most popular Japanese fusion restaurant in Lima is the top-rated restaurant, Maido (one of the top 50 restaurants in the world and number 2 in Latin America in 2016).
However there is another option. While still expensive but better on the pockets for us backpackers, Osaka is a sleek fusion restaurant near San Isidro in Lima.
With a truly unique sushi offering and fried rice worth living and dying for (no seriously get the fried rice), this place is a real treat that won’t break the bank. The cocktails are nothing short of delicious and if you don’t finish with the chocolate lava cake, you will be making a terrible mistake.
We all had sushi to start, a main, extra fried rice, desert and two cocktails for just under 200 Peruvian soles each (around €50 per person).
Brunch on the cheap
La Pannetteria is a small, busy and stylish coffeeshop situated in the heart of Barranco. Get tasty sandwiches for 15 soles (just under €4) and desserts will set you back only 7-12 soles (€1.80-3). Also the cakes in here (as the name would suggest) are truly stunning so we recommend you don’t skip out on dessert.
Whether a chocolate mousse or a carrot cake are your weak spot, the brownie is a particular highlight. Topped with chocolate icing, this is melt in your mouth stuff. Stop here for cake and a coffee for the a simple brunch and the perfect sweet tooth soother.
Brunch on a splurge
Pan Sal Aire is an attractive little restaurant and coffeeshop located in Lima’s effortlessly stylish Barranco district.
With a super modern and airy interior, enjoy flat breads, gnocchi or eggs benedict from around 30 soles (€7.50). Also good to head here for some seriously delicious coffee.
A big meal on the cheap
Tarboush is always packed with tables that pour out onto the street beside Miraflora’s main square, Plaza de Armas.
And it’s not shocking why. Enjoy absolutely delicious Turkish food whether you are a falafel and hummus kind of person or would rather a big plate of shwarma or shish kebab.
For a good feed for only 12 soles (like €3) get the ‘sandwiches’ as they are listed on the menu. These are in fact large wraps stuffed with hummus, veg, garlic mayo and your choice of falafel or spiced meat.
However if you require even more food go for one of the plates at 24-26 soles (€6-€7). I recommend the falafel plate; four big balls of well-spiced falafel, a side salad, arabic rice (really yummy), a pitta bread as well as a big lump of hummus. You will not be hungry for the rest of the day I promise you.
A big meal on a splurge
Larcomar is a very upmarket, luxury shopping centre located on the sea front of Miraflores. And the restaurants here are designed to match.
Mangos restaurant offers a stunning, modern terrace looking out over the Pacific. While going a la carte can be pricey the buffet lunch is quite the spread and will give you a great feed for just under 70 soles.
With an endless supply of delicious food and a dessert table that will literally take your breath away, we think the equivalent of around €18 is worth it for a massive feed in a stunning, glamorous setting. Don’t you?
A sweet treat on the cheap
Something you need to try while in Lima are picarones. Made from sweet potato and butternut squah, these ring shaped pastries taste just like donuts.
They are then drizzled in a sauce made from sugarcane that gives a very similar flavour to maple syrup. You can get these at stalls in any of the main squares in Lima and in most small cafes and restaurants.
For example, I spotted them in the centre of Miraflores’ main plaza as well as at the food stalls in Barranco’s main plaza that appear every second week or so. Keep your eyes peeled and you will definitely come across them. They will only set you back a couple of soles (mere cents).