The Urbanist’s Lima: Where to Eat

CentralPhoto: Oscar Durand

Three Restaurants Limeños Clamor For
And where they go when they can’t get in.

The Cebicheria

Plan A:
“Chez Wong”
Calle Enrique León García 114; 511-470-6217
Javier Wong’s home-kitchen cebicheria is a parody of restaurants that play hard to get: lunch only, eight tables, total lack of signage. Those who get in—try e-mailing Wong (—get two transcendental courses: typically a ceviche followed by a stir-fry.

Plan B:
Pescados Capitales
Avenida La Mar 1337; 511-421-8808
If the Standard’s Biergarten were moved to Red Hook and re-branded as a Peruvian-soap-star-courting cebicheria, it would be just like this. While traditional ceviches are superb, the haute-crudo craze hasn’t gone unnoticed by chef Wilfredo Castillo, who wields its flourishes with aplomb.

The Buzzy Chef Showplace

Plan A:
San Martín 300; 511-242-4149
Hunky celeb chefs typically spend more time branding than braising, but Rafael Osterling doesn’t give a rip about his cult status (which, naturally, amps it up further). His menu reads like a schizophrenic mess, hurtling from tapas to fusion to farmstead neo-Peruvian, yet he’s got the chops to land the kookiest flight-of-fancy.

Plan B:
Calle Santa Isabel 376; 511-242-8575
Rising star Virgilio Martinez’s stylish, modern eatery is the hot ticket in town. Happily, its spacious digs and online booking (also: lunch hours) reward even reservation-procrastinators. Platings recall the restrained molecular-gastro gambit of Daniel Humm, just with way more potato varieties.

The Regional Specialist

Plan A:
Calle Camino Real 101; 511-440-5200
There’s a deep-tracks aspect to Pedro Miguel Schiaffino’s haute-heartland cuisine—built on obscure Amazonian ingredients like alpaca prosciutto and cocona berries—that will be lost on Peruvian-food newbies. No matter: To grasp the brilliance requires only taste buds.

Plan B:
Avenida Reducto 1278; 511-242-9009
Disguised as a Latin-themed South Beach martini lounge circa 1996 (complete with palm trees and earpiece-sporting bouncers), Fiesta serves cuisine from Chiclayo, a north-coast province. Specialties include pisco-flambéed shrimp and milk-braised goat.

No Straw Necessary

Limeños are enamored of the chilcano de coca cocktail (pisco, lime juice, ginger ale, and macerated coca leaves), which tequila fans might liken to a paloma but, you know, with a coke-ier finish. The best versions, according to Taste of Peru owner Wendy Alperstein, can be found here:

Avenida 28de Julio 1290
This chilled-out restaurant bar is ground zero for pisco geekery in Lima.

Ache AvenidaLa Paz 1055
Hajime Kasuga’s sleek Nikkei-fusion hot spot is a worthy raison d’être for wearing that little black dress you’ve been squirreling away.

El Señorío de Sulco
Malecón Cisneros 1470
Picture the Russian Vodka Room with Epcot-style Peruviana and jugs of house-steeped pisco infusions.

The Other Other White Meat

So beloved is cuy (a.k.a. guinea pig) in Peruvian culture that one eighteenth-century version of da Vinci’s Last Supper, painted by a local artist, depicts the roasted rodent as its tempting centerpiece. As with fugu in Tokyo or haggis in Glasgow, you can’t earn your Lima foodie badge without sampling it in some form; you may, however, choose your level of immersion, from 1 (just a taste) to 5 (aspiring Zimmerns only).

1 = El Cuy ya Tiene su Chifa at Astrid & Gastón (Calle Cantuarias 175), the white-tablecloth spot that made Gastón Acurio Peru’s first celebrity chef. Here, the guinea is served off the bone, Peking-duck-style, with crispy, glazed skin that you wrap inside fluffy purple-corn crêpes.

2 = Chicharrón de Cuy at Huaca Pucllana (General Borgoño Cuadra 8), an upscale restaurant built atop pre-Incan ceremonial grounds. Thin guinea fillets are coated in wheat flour, fried crisp, and served with tostones.

5 = Picante de Cuy at El Tarwi (Pasaje Ayulo 131), a rustic eatery specializing in food from the northern Ancash region. The deep-fried guinea is served bone-in, head-on, and brain-intact with spicy potatoes.

The Urbanist’s Lima: Where to Eat