Below is a list of the top 10 foods to eat when traveling to Peru.
Peruvian food can be distinguishable for its amazing taste when it comes to ceviche (seafood cooked in acidic citric juices), or “cebiche” as they like to spell it. Peru is known for their ceviche, and it’s hands down the best ceviche that has hit my taste buds. I had anticipated this dish the most of all other Peruvian foods. Luckily, I got to try it from one of the best ceviche chefs in the world, Chef Javier Wong. The reason Peruvian ceviche outranks other ceviches is twofold. First, Peru is historically attributed as the birthplace of ceviche, meaning that Peru as a nation has had plenty of time to master the recipe. Second, Peruvian ceviche uses a leche de tigre (aka tiger’s milk) marinade, giving the dish a distinctly unique flavor.
Tip: I highly recommend eating at the Chez Wong restaurant located on Calle Enrique Leon Garcia 114, Lima, Peru. It’s pricier than your normal cebiche restaurants, but it’s completely worth it. Javier Wong starts each meal with his famous cebiche, consisting of local flounder and octopus. If he has more fish, he will continue creating rounds of seafood (at this point your waiter will ask if you would like to continue onto the next round). Make sure to call +51-1-4706217 and reserve in advance, since his tables are limited and he only operates from 1pm-4pm.
Cuy is a staple diet for many people that live in the Andes. It is served whole since the guinea pig is really not packing much meat. At restaurants, it is presented completely intact on a platter for pictures to be taken and then taken back to the kitchen to be chopped up. No lie about it, the meat is very sweet and tender like a better version of dark meat chicken. The skin, however, is leathery and was not pleasant to chew on.
Tip: Cuy has become a big tourist attraction. If you get it in touristy areas, the whole pig itself is around 60 PEN and will not fill you up! Try finding less crowded areas to try cuy.
Lom0 saltado is a hybrid of Chinese and Peruvian cuisine –
before “Chinese fusion” became a thing. This is a hearty stir-fry dish filled with fried potatoes, peppers, onions, and your choice of meat served over rice. The taste itself is similar to Chinese cuisine due to the light use of soy sauce for flavoring.
Tip: You can find lom0 saltado basically anywhere you go in Peru. Only some locations will offer variations of meat, such as alpaca, to boost up your experience with the dish.
Rocoto relleno is the Peruvian version of the stuffed pepper. This dish was brought over by Spaniards, but since sweet peppers were not available, the rocoto was used as a substitute. Inside the rocoto pepper are veggies, meat, and cheese – baked and served whole. The pepper looks just like a bell pepper but has a huge kick of fire. Overall, the dish is very aromatic and colorful, and the experience of eating this dish is very delicious if you can handle the heat. Tip: The rocoto is extremely spicy… at least ten times spicier than the jalapeno.
Tip: The rocoto is extremely spicy… at least ten times spicier than the jalapeno.
Papas rellenas is amazing and is one of my favorite potato dishes. Although you can find papas rellenas in many other Latin countries, this Peruvian papas rellenas stole the show when paired with aji sauce. When cooked right, you get a perfect crisp coat of potato on the outside and delicious fillings on the inside. It’s very savory with a great blend of flavors.
Tip: Aji sauce is considered the “spicy” salsa or hot sauce in the country. Most places do not make this sauce very spicy, but it’s the “go-to” for a spicy sauce.
Translated, sanguche de chicharron just means pork belly sandwich. This may seem like nothing special, but it is. What makes this sandwich unique in Peru is that it is definitely their most popular sandwich eaten by locals. Paired up with their special salsa criolla, makes this sandwich a powerful combination of flavors – sweet succulent slabs of pork in between crispy French rolls, complemented with the taste of savory potatoes and acidic pickled salsa.
Tip: there are two locations in Lima that I want to point out that is a must try: Sangucheria El Chinito and La Lucha Sangucheria Criolla. Both are affordable and will not break the bank. El Chinito is cheaper and was better tasting.
For centuries, Alpaca has been a major source of meat for Peru. You can find it as a steak, in sandwiches, or as a meat substitute in many of Peruvian dishes. The meat is very lean but not chewy, unlike what you would find in the eye-of-round beef cuts. It also has a slightly gamey taste to it, but it’s not overwhelming. Personally, I like beef over alpaca, but many of my friends would disagree.
Aji de gallina is a thick, rich stew of chicken that gets most of its flavors and colors from the yellow aji peppers. You don’t have to worry about the spice in this dish, it’s mildly spicy.
Tip: There is a vegetarian option to this called papa a la huancaina that substitutes chicken for potato slices.
Pollo a la brasa is a Peruvian style roasted chicken. One pass across any restaurant and you can understand why it’s not just any ordinary roasted chicken. You’ll quickly find yourself whiffing up an air cloud of char-flavor chicken that’s marinated to perfection with garlic, spices, and peppers.
At the heart of Peruvian diets is the heart of the cow, skewered and grilled.
And if it’s street food you’re looking for, you won’t fail to find an anticuchos stand anywhere you look. The grilled cow heart is slathered with a garlic sauce and also aji sauce; it’s inexpensive and quite tasty.
Peruvian food is great and you’ll be glad to try these top foods when you travel to Peru. Some dishes have similar tastes to that of other Latin cuisine, but it’s safe to say that Peruvians do serve up some unique flavors. You’ll find that a lot of dishes, like some of their more popular dishes, are fused with Chinese cuisines which bring out a hint of Chinese flavors. Most foods are not spicy at all or have a mild spice to them; the rocoto pepper is an exception. If you need a little kick, ask for the aji salsa – it’s a mild spice. Whatever you get, make sure to wash down your food with some of their local drinks: Inca Kola (Peruvian soda), chicha morada (Peruvian sweet purple corn juice), and pisco sours (alcoholic; if you’re in Aguascalientes, Peru, the restaurants do all day happy hours that offers 4-for-1 or 5-for-1).
Plan out your trip with the full Peru Travel Guide!