You may have already heard that Lima is considered the culinary capital of South America. In fact, the Peruvian metropolis is inhabited by so many world-ranked eateries that visitors may feel overwhelmed in selecting the best restaurants in Lima on their own. To ease your mind, our team has made a selection of top restaurants in Lima that we think you should consider including in your Peru luxury tour. Get ready for a true gastronomic experience!
– Central: Top Restaurant in Latin America
Chef Virgilio Martínez has achieved worldwide fame over the past few years, contributing greatly to Lima’s recognition as a leading gastronomic destination. Long before he appeared on the Netflix series Chef’s Table, Martínez made his fascination with Peru’s diverse ecosystems and crops clear. And it seemingly paid off as Central, his flagship Peru restaurant, is currently considered the second-best restaurant in the world and the top in Latin America.
The tasting menu at Central utilizes local ingredients gathered at a range of altitudes: from highland regions that reach 14,500 feet (4,420 meters) to the Pacific coast where nutrient-rich ingredients can be found below sea level. The abundance and exotic variety of Peru’s natural bounty are outstanding, and the Central team does an impeccable job of demonstrating this in an edible and eye-catching fashion.
Together with his wife, Pía León, and sister, Malena Martínez, the one-time skateboarder, promotes investigation and research through the on-site project Mater Iniciativa. The innovative laboratory is responsible for working with local communities throughout Peru who can inform the team of chefs of traditional and long-forgotten ingredients that eventually find their way into avant-garde recipes.
– Experience the Best Nikkei at Maido
With its coastal setting, it’s no surprise that Lima is a seafood lover’s paradise. Combine Peru’s fresh seafood with the traditional culinary techniques of Japanese immigrants and the result is the irresistible fusion cuisine known as Nikkei. One of the city’s best Nikkei restaurants (and an haute cuisine version, at that) is Maido, located in the friendly Miraflores neighborhood.
The experience begins when you step foot into the restaurant and the staff shouts “Maido!” (meaning “Welcome” in Japanese). Diners have the choice of sitting at the sushi bar or ordering a la carte, but the true indulgence is found in the 16-course, multi-hour tasting menu designed by Chef Mitsuharu Tsumura.
Considered the third-best restaurant in Latin America, the tasting menu at Maido is appropriately called the “Nikkei Experience.” The dishes are greatly inspired by the sea, featuring everything from ceviche to algae stew and sea urchin sushi. Over the years, the menu has begun to incorporate an increased amount of native Peruvian ingredients found on land, such as lesser-known tubers and aromatic herbs.
Maido’s website puts it best: “This wonderful cuisine is the reflection of the Japanese influence on Peruvian gastronomy. The ingredients of both cultures complement each other as if they had been born to be one.”
– Kjolle, A Quickly Rising Star
Having opened as recently as 2018, Kjolle has already shot its way to the top 10 ranking of the best restaurants in Latin America (not to mention one of the best in Lima, Peru). But its seemingly quick success comes with a lot of experience, as Kjolle is the first solo venture of Pía León. León, the wife of Peruvian super chef Virgilio Martínez, was head chef at award-winning central for various years before venturing to open her first solo project.
Named after a yellow flower grown in the high Andes of Peru, Kjolle is located directly upstairs from Central in the hip Barranco district. Considered the Best Female Chef in 2021, León has created a menu of plates that focus on the diverse bounty of Peru in a high-end yet charming atmosphere.
Beautiful tableware acts as a vessel for the 8-course tasting menu. You can try unique flavor and texture combinations in dishes such as Scallops and Sweet Cucumber (with an added acidity from the native tumbo fruit) and Squid and Humantanga (a native potato). Diners can opt to pair their menu with alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks, both featuring a variety of exotic Peruvian fruit and herbs. Request a table near the large windows, overlooking the on-site urban garden full of native plants.
– Dive Into The Iconic Cevicheria, La Mar
Gastón Acurio seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to Peruvian restaurants that stick to the classics, and the chef’s pioneering seafood joint, La Mar, is no different. Meaning ‘the Sea,’ La Mar shares its name with the street where it is located, in a burgeoning section of Miraflores. There’s no doubt about it: this cevicheria is the place to go for the quintessential dish of Peru.
A large menu boasts a variety of seafood dishes, but you can’t go wrong (or much better) than the classic ceviche: cubed pieces of the catch of the day marinated in citrus juice and tossed with onions and a touch of aji pepper (according to your heat tolerance). La Mar is incredibly popular with locals and is only open from 12pm-5:30pm. Why such a short window of time to feast? To ensure that only the freshest of seafood is served.
Just be sure to pair your ceviche with an ice-cold lager or a pisco sour, Peru’s national cocktail. For a non-alcoholic option, try chicha morada, a perfectly sweetened juice made of purple corn.
– Isolina: An Ode to Classic, Homemade Peruvian Food
Serving up home-style Peruvian classics, Chef Jose del Castillo named his restaurant Isolina after his mother. A nostalgic attempt at reclaiming traditional dishes that he ate as a young boy and that were staples decades ago in Lima, Isolina has managed to gain popularity with eaters of all generations and nationalities.
Generous servings at this tavern-style restaurant make it an ideal place to order numerous dishes and share with friends and family. Housed in an early 20th-century mini-mansion in the trendy Barranco district, just don’t expect a quiet meal as the homestyle food seems to bring a feeling of boisterous glee to diners.
At Isolina, travelers can try hearty dishes they have surely never had (nor possibly heard of) before: cau cau (tripe stew with potatoes and blood sausage) and beef brain tortilla, to name a few.
– Astrid y Gastón: Lima’s Culinary Kingpin
Gastón Acurio is Peru’s unofficial worldwide culinary ambassador, having opened his flagship restaurant, Astrid y Gastón, back in 1994 and a great promoter of Peruvian delicacies ever since.
Developed alongside his wife, Astrid, Astrid y Gastón moved a few years ago from Miraflores to the historic Casa Moreyra mansion in Lima’s ritzy San Isidro neighborhood. Setting eyes on the three-story colonial mansion instantly elevates the experience.
The restaurant’s imaginative menu changes every six months, with each dish presented as an exquisite combination of colors, flavors, and textures. Traditional dishes are given a contemporary spin (think ceviche in a creamy leche de tigre sauce with an unexpected addition of loche squash). You’ll probably wish the experience never had to finish, but at the end of the tasting menu, guests are given a map of Peru that points to where all the ingredients were sourced from.
You can bring your own wine to enjoy with the meal (corkage is free), or let the restaurant’s wine sommelier make a recommendation for you. Astrid & Gastón has also won the best wine list of Peru at the Summum awards numerous times. Be sure to make reservations well in advance.
– (Bonus) For Drinks: Carnaval
While food certainly gets the majority of the hype when it comes to Peru’s culinary scene, the artistry of signature cocktails is quickly catching up. Founded by Aaron Diaz, a globetrotting barman with decades of experience under his belt, Carnaval even offers up its own version of a liquid-tasting menu.
Based on the rich sensory experience gained over the years spent in Africa, Europe, and the States, the Lima native launched Carnaval in 2017. Just two years later, the upscale San Isidro watering hole was awarded Highest New Entry in The World’s 50 Best Bars 2019 list when it landed at lucky number 13.
Conceptual cocktails served in dramatic and playful glasses make Carnaval a wild experience. Try out the three-cocktail Carnaval Experience whereby classic cocktails are revamped with a Peruvian spin. If you are feeling particularly curious, ask to see the Ice Room, where ice chunks are meticulously carved in distinct shapes to suit unique cocktails.
– Explore Peru’s Gastronomic Treasures With Kuoda
The diverse cuisine alone is reason enough to begin planning your luxury Peru holiday. More than just satisfying flavors, the secret behind Peru’s culinary success is owed to its diversity as well as the preservation of tradition through contemporary storytellers.
If you are craving an enriching food experience, contact one of our travel designers now to start planning your trip to Peru. The best restaurants in Lima will accommodate your dietary needs and preferences, so be sure to let your travel designer know of any allergies or restrictions.
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