In recent years, Peruvian cuisine has received glowing reviews and increased international attention. The Wall Street Journal named Peru’s food scene “The Next Big Thing.” In 2011, the Organization of American States selected Peruvian cuisine to receive the title of Cultural Patrimony of the Americas, the first ever recipient of this award. And the Lima-based restaurant Astrid & Gaston made it onto the list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Thanks in part to the country’s diversity of crops and to the international influences adopted from immigrant groups who have made Peru their home, Peruvian dishes reflect a combination of culinary tastes and ingredients that have made it one of the most interesting and unique in the world.
During your Peru travel, the diversity of cuisine will astound you. Seafood is a feature of coastal dining, and Ceviche, raw fish cured in lime juice with ají (a spicy chili pepper), is a popular choice. You can enjoy anticuchos, skewered beef hearts marinated in Peruvian spices and grilled on an open flame, in Lima and in Cusco. Piranha fish, prepared in a variety of soups, is a delicacy of the Amazon jungle. However, Arequipa is the city where one can enjoy some of the most outstanding dishes in the country such as the Rocoto Relleno, Pastel de Papa, Chupe de Camarones, Adobo, Cuy Chactado and more.
The Rocoto Relleno
This delicious and traditional dish of Arequipa is called the Rocoto Relleno. The chili pepper resembles a bell pepper, only it’s a little spicier. It is stuffed with meat, usually beef with a mixture of garlic, onion, butter and sometimes includes a vegetable medley. Finally, it is topped off with cheese and broiled to perfection.
Pastel de Papa
Rocoto Relleno is traditionally served with a side of Pastel de Papa, which consists of 4 to 6 layers of sliced potatoes stuffed with melted cheese oozing from every layer.
Chupe de Camarones
The department of Arequipa actually borders the Pacific Ocean, so fresh and delicious seafood is shipped into Arequipa City daily. Chupe de Camarones is a thick soup made with tomato, shrimps, hot pepper, cheese, potatoes, milk, and eggs. It sometimes has other crustaceans mixed into the pot.
Traditionally cooked in a clay pot and served on Sundays, Adobo is marinated pork served with gravy made out of spices, onions and chicha de jora, a fermented beverage made out of maize.
The Guinea Pig (called Cuy in Spanish) is eaten in the Andes as naturally as Westerners consume chicken. Not many people know that the guinea pig was domesticated by the Quechua thousands of years ago and today is a one hundred percent domesticated animal that cannot survive in the wild. The traditional Arequipeño guinea pig dish is the Cuy Chactado, which is guinea pig covered with spicy hot pepper gravy and then fried in a pan. It is traditionally served with boiled potatoes with a side of purple onions cured in lime juice and salt.
Should you find yourself in Arequipa we recommend the following places for traditional food.
Chicha – Calle Santa Catalina 210, ☎ +51 54 287-360
If you’re looking for traditional Peruvian food in an elegant setting, consider Chicha by renowned chef Gaston Acurio. They serve gourmet Peruvian food, including all the dishes mentioned above. They also have an excellent menu of wines and desserts.
La Cecilia – Arancota s/n Sachaca, ☎ +51 54 788-733
Go here on a weekend and it’ll be the most fun you’ll ever have. La Cecilia is a Chicharroneria, a place where they serve many Arequipeñan dishes. What makes this place exciting is the live music and dance which begins 1PM and goes on into the evening.
El Cebillano – Calle Misti 110, Yanahuara, ☎+51 54 270-882/484-866
For the best Chupe de Camarones in Arequipa, try El Cebillano. They are a seafood restaurant with fresh catches trucked in every morning from the coast. The courtyard is inviting and the atmosphere is great.
Plaza de Armas de Cayma
Should you happen to be in Arequipa on Sunday, stop by the Plaza de Armas de Cayma. There are a number of places you can go for local fresh Adobo served hot from a clay pot.
Learn more about our Peru travel packages. For any questions about how we can help you organize your tours in Peru feel free to contact our expert travel advisors at Peru For Less who can assist you with any of your questions and concerns.
Salvador is a contributing writer for our travel blog.