Typical of arequipeños is their strong local identity, and this is perhaps best exemplified by the pride they demonstrate when referring to their regional cuisine. Although the city does not have many contemporary, luxuriously appointed restaurants, the historic center and zones just beyond its limits are full of superb, atmospheric casual restaurants where you can sample some of the most delicious gastronomy in the country.
Some of the best restaurants in the city are a short taxi ride beyond the downtown area, but those who venture there will be rewarded with fabulous outdoor seating and excellent views of the volcanoes. There are also several restaurants in the historic quarter (the streets leading north from the Plaza de Armas, Santa Catalina, and San Francisco) that specialize in traditional Arequipeño cooking. Below are a handful of the most well known – and well loved – classic Arequipeño dishes that you are likely to see on a restaurant menu.
Chupe de camarones: A slightly spicy soup laden with whole shrimp, milk, eggs, and herbs.
Rocoto relleno: Rocoto (spicy bell pepper) stuffed with minced beef, creamy cheese, and chunks of potato.
Soltero: A spicy salad made predominantly with fresh Andean cheese, broad beans, diced onion, olives, and tomato.
Adobo Arequipeño: Pork marinated in chicha (sweet corn drink) and spices.
Ocopa: Slices of potato slathered in a sauce of herbs and Andean fresh cheese.
And here are a few of our recommended eateries in and around the city that are guaranteed to satisfy even the most demanding palate.
Sol de Mayo, Jerusalén 207, Yanahuara – Average $10-$15 – Tel: +51 (54) 254 148
Just a 5-minute taxi ride from the city center, in the pleasant Yanahuara residential district, sits this ever popular, century-old restaurant; now famous for setting the standard for traditional Arequipeño cooking. While there are dining rooms inside the sillar stone building, the lovely al fresco dining area here is undoubtedly the best feature. Colonial tables line the property’s picturesque grassy courtyard, which features a small pool, waterfall, and local folkloric musicians. Upscale locals and tourists rub shoulders here over a well made pisco sour and mouth-watering national or regional lunchtime classics.
Tradición Arequipeña, Av. Dolores 111, Paucarpata – Average $10 – Tel: +51 (54) 426 467
The stunning view of the snow-capped El Misti volcano from Tradicion’s garden balcony is reason enough to make a taxi trip out to this popular restaurant, but a taste of the delicious spread will reassure any doubts! Offering only lunch (or very early dinner options), proof of this restaurant’s excellent kitchen comes from the fact that much of the tourists who dine here get their recommendations from city natives. Servings of traditional Arequipeño and Peruvian food are substantial and satisfying, with the extensive menu including tasty versions of classic standbys like adobo, ceviche, and cuy. Prices are very affordable for such an elegant place.
La Trattoria del Monasterio, Santa Catalina 309 – Average $10 – Tel: +51 (54) 204 062
Divided into three small rooms carved into the white ashy walls of the Santa Catalina Convent, this new addition to the Arequipa dining scene is an excellent antidote to endless recommendations of cuy and alpaca; or for those in search of a less touristic and more intimate candlelit dining experience. Boasting an excellent menu designed by Peru’s most famous chef, Gaston Acurio of restaurants Astrid and Gaston and La Mar, this unassuming café specializes in Italian favorites like lasagne, risotto, and osso bucco. Additionally, conoscitore guests also have the option of long or short pasta. With a fine wine list and desert menu to round out the meal, La Trattoria guarantees a memorable evening of a different sort, in downtown Arequipa.
Ary Quepay, Jerusalén 502 – Average under $10 – Tel: +51 (54) 672 922
This husband-and-wife-run restaurant has the winning combination of a fun dining atmosphere and a delicious menu. With the great authentic ambiance of a traditional Arequipeño picanteria, live folklorico music every night, and only the greatest classics of Arequipa cuisine on the menu, this rustic garden-themed restaurant is an excellent argument for the popularity of the region’s dishes. Not to be missed are the restaurant’s starters of choclo con queso (white corn with cheese) or egg-based sopa a la criolla, followed by the traditional stuffed pepper, escabeche de pescado (spicy fish stew), or roasted guinea pig. Ideally located in the city center, this restaurant is popular among both locals and tourists “in the know;” making it a more convenient and cheaper option than those on the outskirts of town.
El Turko II, Calle San Francisco 315 – Average $10 - Tel: +51 (54) 215-729
A huge favorite known for its delicious cuisine and eclectic menu offering a variety of middle eastern specialties such as falafel, baba ganoush, and hummus, plus other delicious fusions such as alpaca prepared by wok or smothered in coconut milk sauce, shrimp tagliatelle, crispy Mediterranean salads, and cuy bathed in spicy chocolate adobo. The surroundings in this classy establishment are a nice escape from what some view as Arequipeño rustic kitsch; the marble tiled cavernous rooms in the chic Turko II lead to a large sunny courtyard perfect for relaxing from hectic travel and merely enjoying the view. With many vegetarian options to choose from as well, this restaurant is a great choice for those unwilling (or unable) to agree on any one type of cuisine!
Los Gauchos Parilladas, Portal de Flores Nº 112 – Average $10 - Tel: +51 (54) 220-301 http://www.elgauchoparrilladas.com
Not for those in search of a light and balanced meal, this rustic-styled restaurant located right off the main Plaza de Armas serves up hearty, stick-to-your ribs meals for the very hungry. In addition to a free salad bar, this restaurant also periodically offers a great lunchtime promotion with wine, soda, fries, open salad bar, and any choice of meat for under $9 (S/.25)
Download our travel guides for free and take them with you on your dream vacation!