Lima! No one told us! We knew, of course, that it was a culinary capital in a Peruvian-food-is-the-new-New-Nordic-cuisine kind of way. But we’d also heard that the city itself was unwalkable, unlovable, unremarkable, a forgettable layover on the way to Machu Picchu. We decided to come for the food, which was every bit as good as expected, and ended up impressed by all the rest. Click through for our full map.
1. ámaZ: This resto charted at #9 on Blake’s latest Best Restaurants in the World list. The chef’s other, chichier restaurant is Malabar, which is on the San Pellegrino list and zzzzzzzzz. We purposefully avoided Lima’s pricier dining options, so this was our fanciest meal—and even then, it had whiffs of the Rainforest Cafe. But the food delivered, and now we can say we’ve eaten giant Amazonian snails.
2. Huaca Pucllana: Accessible ruins in Miraflores. Read all about ’em.
3. Larco Museum: If you go to one museum in Lima, make it this one. Perhaps that’s a biased recommendation seeing as we did, in fact, only go to one museum in Lima, but the Museo Larco whetted our appetite for pre-Columbian textiles, jewelry, and ceramics. There’s also a special wing devoted to erotic pottery where you can be made uncomfortable by old white men photographing statuettes of skeletons having sex.
4. El Pan de la Chola: The bakery and cafe that you should be so lucky to have in your neighborhood. Order the burrata. And go early on in your days in Lima as you very well may want to return.
5. El Enano: Sandwich-and-juice joints are as popular in Lima as Julian Edelman is at a Friendly’s in Worcester. This restaurant is an open air counter (did we mention it never rains in Lima?) that occupies a corner on an otherwise residential block in Miraflores. You can choose from 27 sandwich options and almost a hundred juice combos, both of which will be grilled/blended in front of you.
6. La Lucha: Another great sandwich and juicerie with a few branches around Miraflores; La Lucha is Shake Shack to El Enano’s Corner Bistro.
7. Cala: There are any number of excellent places in Lima to imbibe an excellent pisco sour, but this spot in Barranco is right on the ocean. We also had a cocktail with coca leaf because we’re tourists.
8. Canta Rana: This old school spot was packed, mostly with locals, on a weekday afternoon, and once the ceviche arrived we understood why. It was the single best thing we ate in Lima, and we ate a lot of good things.
9. Al Toke Pez: If you require your restaurant kitchens to be clean and your dining experience to be free of shoving, this is not the place for you. Blake is partial to both of those things, so the fact that she is willing to recommend Al Toke Pez to others speaks incredibly highly of the food. This huarique (hole in the wall restaurant) seats 6 at a counter. If you are seated at the spots closest to the wok station, as we were, you risk losing your eyebrows. To place your order, you push your way to the front of the scrum and holler to the cashier/server/expediter. If you choose anything other than the Combo Platter of the Day, they will probably be out of it. You pay, receive your number, and then hover over the seated patrons, hoping they finish before your order is up. Our combo platter featured fried rice, ceviche, fried calamari, and a styrofoam cup of chicha, which is purple drank with spices. Everything was tremendous, and the calamari was the best we’ve ever had.
10. ChocoMuseo: More of a ChocoAtelier where cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, conched, tempered, and finally crafted into any number of good things to eat. You can take a quick tour and then settle in for a cup of hot chocolate, either Inca style or Conquistador style (there’s only one correct choice, unless you like Oppression).
11. Masters of Hair: At different moments in our trip, two absolutely fabulous gay men did our hair up—Masters of Hair in San Isidro was the first. The owner, Alexander, cut and bleached Blake’s hair and nailed it. She had an insane allergic reaction to bleach that’s she’s never had before, but that was hardly the salon’s fault. Has anyone else experienced itchy hands while being blonded?