What to Eat in Lima, Peru

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Peru in general is well-known as one of the top food destinations of Latin America, especially for its classic dishes such as Ceviche. However, Lima in particular is the place to go if you’re looking to try a range of exotic and exciting dishes to really open up your taste buds.

Where To Eat In Lima, Peru

Local chef preparing soups at a restaurant in Lima.
Local Chef Preparing Soups

Lima is an extremely diverse city. The capital of Peru has many cultural links with Asia and Europe, which has resulted in a unique hotpot of varying foods and dishes.

Beach and skyline view of Lima.
Beach view of Lima

In this guide we’ll explore six of Lima’s top foods, which are a daily ritual for the locals here.
We’ll also look at how to find a good place to try Peruvian foods whilst in the capital so if you are backpacking South America or on a tight travel budget, the following dishes will more than likely be your savour in Lima and even in some other regions of Peru.

Papa Rellena

Papa Rellena served with onion tomato on a plate.
Papa Rellena – Peruvian staples food

One of the main Peruvian staples can be found in pretty much all local restaurants in Lima. This dish is made up of a baked potato that has been opened up and filled with different meats such as beef, as well as onions, olives and other spices. Sometimes it’s accompanied with Ají, which is a Peruvian sauce which is a little bit spicy but gives the dish a nice kick. This dish is usually eaten as a starter, however in my case (since it’s my favorite food in Peru) I stocked up on like 4 or 5 and that was me done!

Huancaina

Peruvian Huancaina served on a plate.
Traditional Peruvian Huancaina

Originating from the Andes, this dish was said to have been created by an old woman who used to sell it to railroad workers who made the stop in the high altitude city of Huancayo. Over the years it then became popular throughout the country, and as a result is another main starter that can be found in many traditional Peruvian restaurants in Lima. Consisting of sliced potatoes, this dish is also served with a boiled egg. It’s then covered in a really tasty, spicy sauce that is made up of queso fresco cheese and the native ají amarillo chilli pepper.

Sopas

Caldo de Gallina Soup served in the bowl.
Caldo de Gallina Sopa

Peru is home to a great variety of soups, with it being rumored there are over 2000 in the country (which makes sense considering there are lots of small, isolated towns and cities throughout). In Lima there is a nice variety, which are perfect to warm yourself up during the winter season (remember the winter runs from June until October due to Peru’s location in the Southern Hemisphere).

Caldo de Gallina is the most typical, and can be found pretty much everywhere in Lima. Served with a thick, delicious broth, it has a large piece of chicken along with noodles, potatoes and chives. Sancochado is another must-try, which with a large amount of ingredients such as meat, leeks, carrots, yucca, potatoes, cabbage and corn, is one for the very hungry. Sopa a la Minuta is a fusion soup which has roots from Italian settlers, which is made with ground beef, pasta, egg and ají sauce.

Lomo Saltado

Beef, french fries and rice served in a stir fry-style dish.
Lomo Saltado known as national dish of Peru

Known as the national dish of Peru among Peruvians, Lomo Saltado is the dish you cannot leave the country having not tried! The main ingredients are beef, french fries, and rice in a stir fry-style dish. Depending on where you go to eat, they’ll also add their own touches, mixing in extra elements such as tomatoes and onions.

The irony is this dish originated from Chinese settlers, who brought over the Chifa tradition and foods. These are now found throughout the country from the sea, to the mountains and the jungle. So no matter where your Peru itinerary takes you you’ll begin to realise why the Lomo Saltado in particular became so popular and especially now that it’s Peru’s top dish!

Ceviche

Ceviche served on a plate.
Ceviche

Ask anyone what food is from Peru, and Ceviche is the answer you’ll get. Although many countries lay claim to the origins of this dish, it’s in fact Peru that first created this seafood delight. The contrast of raw fish and meat along with citrus, as well as escabeche spices makes it one of the most incredible foods to try in Latin America.

Whilst the best Ceviche varieties are found in the north in cities such as Máncora and Trujillo, Lima is also a great place to try Ceviche. And due to its coastal location, you’ll be eating fresh fish caught that same day.

Bistec al Pobre

Served steak, bacon, french fries, fried plantains and a boiled egg.
Bistec al Pobre

Translating directly as “steak of the poor”, this dish was once common among poorer locals in Peru who cannot afford the more expensive meats and vegetables that were only eaten by the higher classes.

Regardless of its history, this dish is a superb filler, and especially for those with a hangover with its large variety of ingredients! It consists of steak, bacon, french fries, fried plantains and a boiled egg. Whilst it may seem like many random foods thrown together (which does make sense considering its origins), it’s actually a pretty sweet combination. Just make sure you have enough space in your belly for this beast.

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Where to try these foods in Lima:

Eat outs at Lima.
Local Eat-Outs in Calle de los Pinos

Now that we’ve teased you with some of the best foods to try, let’s get you and your salivating mouth somewhere to try these foods ASAP!

For most tourists, you’ll most likely be staying in the popular, bustling district of Miraflores. Here there are many local restaurants that serve these iconic dishes at a very cheap price, especially near Parque Kennedy. In particular, there are three local eat-outs along Calle de los Pinos that I always eat at and personally recommend, with prices being very cheap.

If staying anywhere else such as in Barranco, Surco, or beyond, then my top tip here is to ask the locals! They know best where to eat in Lima, Peru, and if a place has a queue or is full, it’s usually a very good sign.

Conclusion:

And that’s all for our bite-sized article (couldn’t resist) to the different foods of Lima. As one of the best places to visit in South America and with its many cultural ties giving rise to a variety of unique foods, Lima is an absolute must for any food lover heading to Peru.

As you’ve seen, the dishes here range from fresh seafood like Ceviche to the basic staples of Papa Rellenas and Huancaina. And that’s before delving into the unique fusion foods such as Sopa a la Minuta, Chifa, and beyond.

Now that we’ve explored Lima’s top foods in this article, the question is… are you ready to head out and try them?

Author Bio: Dan & George

Dan and George of Backpacking Latam.
Dan and George of Backpacking Latam

Dan and George are two seasoned backpackers with extensive knowledge of Latin America who write no-nonsense backpacking guides for people who are looking to explore Central and South America. Find them on social at Backpacking Latam, Layer Culture, and George into the Jungle.

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Pinterest images of Papa Rellena, Ceviche and Lomo Saltado.
Pinterest images of Huancaina and Bistec al Pobre.

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