Casual dining: Popular Cusco cafes and hangouts

Satisfy that craving for comfort food at popular Cusco cafes and hangouts!
Located on a busy corner of Cusco's San Blas neighborhood, Jack's Cafe is popular among travelers. Photo by onalbum/Flickr

American comfort food abroad. What?! If you’ve been on the road a while or are just not feeling great (if you know what I mean), sometimes we just crave the familiar. As much as you’d like to venture out and try new foods, we just need to retreat to what we know; something whose name you recognize and you know you like. It’s likely if you’re in South America, you’re not traveling alone, and heavens knows it’s not easy to come to agreement on group dining, especially if one of you has been having stomach trouble. Luckily, the eateries we’ve hand selected below offer a good array of food options: an assortment of mostly American-Andean fusion, if you will. And yes, that includes snack foods and sandwiches.

Cusco’s multitudinous eateries make it a snackers dream come true. Although Cusco also has a diverse and ample selection of finer dining establishments, there’s really nothing quite like café hopping to sample local indulgences: sandwich shops, empanada parlors, cafes, coffee shops and even pizza joints.

Jack’s Cafe
Choquechaka 509, Cusco, Peru

Rise and shine to huevos rancheros amidst the Andes, a traditional Mexican-American breakfast food that’s both filling and delicious, and now available in Cusco, Peru.  This is just one example of the wide food-selection available at Jack’s cafe.  If lunch is more your thing, you can enjoy a burger, tofu stir fry or even “mum’s” chicken soup. Conveniently located in the lovely neighborhood of San Blas, on the corner of Atocsaycuchi and Choquechaka, you’ll be just a short walk away from the Pre-Columbian Art Museum and many of Cusco’s boutiques. This local cafe is an ex-pat favorite, so expect to have a less traditional Andean experience.  Since the Jack’s Cafe is popular, it can have a bit of wait time. However, this doesn’t seem to deter eager diners from waiting in line for a chance at a true American style meal. But fear not, the staff is friendly and well prepared to take your order upon arrival to reduce wait time once your party has been seated.  So if you’re feeling a bit homesick or just need a break from Peruvian food, don’t miss your chance to indulge in a tuna melt sandwich and a mango-lassi at Jack’s Cafe.

Jack's Cafe in Cusco, Peru, Peru For LessHuevos Rancheros and Mango Pancake
Photo by Jennifer Chong /JCHONG STUDIO

At a glance
Price per plate: $3-$10
Phone: 51-84-254-606
Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Note: No Reservations Available

La Bodega 138
Herrajes 138, Cusco, Peru

When a pizza craving sets in there’s nothing to do but satisfy it.  Luckily, Cusco has one of the best pizza joints in all of Peru.  La Bodega 138 has a creative selection of brick-oven, wood-fired pizzas that will make your taste-buds dance.  Bite into a bold blue cheese and prosciutto pizza whose flavors are contrasted with the sweet-tartness of thinly sliced kiwi.  Garnish your entree with any of the well-rounded and moderately priced house wines or local beers. Each pizza is made upon request to provide the perfect freshness you desire. Nibble on the complimentary garlic bread, herbed olive oil and olives as appetizers while your custom pizza is assembled and fired-up. La Bodega 138 also offers elaborate salads and pastas for lighter meal and vegetarian options. After a long day of hiking or touring, you can’t beat this treat to replenish for the following day’s activities. The cozy atmosphere and tempting treats of La Bodega 138 will warm you up on brisk Cusco nights. Don’t let it let pizza cravings tantalize you, just visit la Bodega 138 and appease those taste buds.

La Bodega 182, Peru For LessBite into a slice of comfort.
Photo from Outlander Abroad Blog

At a glance
Price per plate: $7-$12
Phone: 51-84-260-272
Note: Closed Sunday
Dining options: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch,and Late Night
Reservations Available

Fallen Angel
Plazoleta Nazarenas 221, Cusco, Peru

Step out of traditional and into the avant garde. Fallen Angel offers the most original dining experience in Cusco.   Located in front of the luxurious Palacio Nazarenas Hotel, and next to the appraised Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (MAP), and the Nazarenas Plaza, Fallen Angel finds itself amidst the finest real estate of Cusco’s San Blas area. This trendy restaurant/bar/guesthouse is unlike anything else you will find in the Cusco area – a true visual art experience. As you step onto the premises of Fallen Angel you’ll be immediately captivated by the striking and original art/furniture.  From Cherubs, to Flying Pigs, and even bathtub-aquarium tables, dining at Fallen Angel will make a lasting and contrasting experience to others in Cusco.

The restaurant menu offers a good array of culinary treats including Mediterranean, Andean, Steak and Vegetarian options.  Dishes are titled with witty pop-references such as “Silence of the Lambs” , a lamb-stuffed ravioli in caramelized lamb reduction, and “Angelic Ravioli”ravioli stuffed with mashed sweet potatoes a la orange, bathed in creamy white wine sauce, served with fresh parmesan and splash of balsamic vinegar. There are also vegetarian options such as Gluten Steak in Thai Sauce.  The restaurant also boasts 15 varieties of original beef tenderloin sauces (try the Salsa en Azul Andino and savor a little piece of whiskey-rosemary blue cheese heaven).  This expressionist locale has a flare of Latin American Magical Realism; dazzling to some and overwhelming for others: a niche. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s worth a look. The cuisine will be the cherry on top.

Fallen Angel, Peru For LessEnjoy the visual art decor at Fallen Angel.
Photo from Fallen Angel

At a glance
Prices per main course: $15-$25
Phone: 084/258-184
Hours:  Mon-Fri 11am-11pm; Sat-Sun 2-11pm

Choco Museo
Calle Garcilaso 210, 2nd floor, Cusco, Peru

Chocolate. Need I say more? This decadent little museum is both charming and educational. Whether you’re a chocolate lover looking for a great place to drink coffee or just looking for an interactive learning experienceChocomuseo is the place for you.  Overlooking Plaza Regocijo, the cobalt framed balconies overlook passersby, and children playing chase around the fountain.  This three-in-one establishment is a perfect place to kick back to a delicious coffee beverage, cocoa tea, or iced mocha frappe to perk your afternoon. You can even create your own hot chocolate! The cafe also offers assortments of chocolate desserts such as handmade truffles with local flavors like lucuma. The museum-cafe offers workshops where you’ll learn to make your own chocolate. From bean to delicacy you’ll discover the secrets to opening the hearts of chocolate lovers of the world. Don’t miss your chance to stop by the quaint, self-sustained promoter of cocoa products and sustainable cocoa harvests.  ChocoMuseo’s shop offers a wonderful selection of cocoa based products from journals to earrings and beauty products. These make terrific (and sometimes edible) souvenirs!

Choco Museum, Peru For Less‘Good drink & Snack’ at ChocoMuseo.
Photo by AvgMom2/Trip Advisor

At a glance
Price for beverage: $3-$5
Hours: Monday – Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Phone:  51-084-244-7 65
Note: Cost of workshops vary and must be booked in advance