Blessed by a long stretch of coastline and pacific waters inhabited by an army of fish so fresh it practically jumps out of the water and sings, it could have only been in Peru that ceviche grew to such heights (whatever Chileans might tell you). The simplicity of the recipe means that you are banking big time on the quality and freshness of the snapper, and we can promise that after less than 24 hours in Peru, you will realize all previous ceviche’s may well have been mere imposters. Here are 5 top picks for some of the best food in Lima.
1. Central – Tucked away just past the Malecon in Miraflores, you would be hard pressed to guess from the unassuming exterior that this is one of the city’s most interesting new restaurants. An open plan kitchen allows diners to watch chef Virgilio Martinez conjure up Peruvian delicacies with a global outlook- The deconstructed ‘Pulpo al carbon morado’ and Corvina Crujiente are both a must, but the real treat is the 7 course tasting menu shared at the chef’s table tucked in a tiny courtyard behind the open plan kitchen. Gloriously absent from internet best sites, Central remains from now, one of Lima’s best kept secrets but our bet is that it won’t be long before Martinez becomes a worldwide household name.
Calle Santa Isabel 376, 242-8575
2. Cebicheria El Mercado – Opened in 2010, El Mercado is the city’s hottest lunch spot and another winner from Rafael Osterling. Taking inspiration from the traditional Cebicheria stands found in Lima’s markets, El Mercado is a more of an informal dining experience, where exquisitely balance Ceviche, Bloody Mary scallops and feather light calamari are best enjoyed with a round of Chilcano’s. Under a canopy of banana trees, heavy set wooden tables are a buzz with glamorous Limeñas accompanied by a surprising number of men in pale pastel jumpers- just so you know what to pack guys.
Hipolito Uriame 203, Miraflores, 221 1322
3. Mesa 18 by Toshiro – The ultimate spot for those seeking a heavy dose of Japanese with their Peruvian fusion, Mesa 18 is framed by a beautiful garden that looks over the Malecon out to sea and works in contrast with the high ceilings and elaborate chandeliers that come sunset create an air of neo gothic. Chef Toshiro Kinoshi, who arrived from Japan 35 years ago, is credited with the creation of ceviche’s sophisticated alternative, the tiradito.. The Deep sea grouper, marinated in light sweet soy sauce, topped with ginger julienne will have lovers of black miso cod weep tears of pure joy.
Av Malecon de la Reserva 1035, Miraflores, Lima. 610 4000
4. Maras – The restaurant at the newly opened Westin is run by one of Lima’s top 5 chefs, Rafael Piqueras, whose menu of Peruvian fusion classics include hits such as black tagliolini with king prawns and Nikkei tuna tartare. Its limited number of covers and intimate setting has frustrated international business moguls queuing out the door.
Calle la Begonias 450, San Isidro, 201-5000
5. Luchita – Well off the beaten track, Luchita is our latest discovery for the more adventurous who seek pure authenticity without all the frills. Luchita (which translates as ‘little fighter’) operates out of a big old mansion in Chorillos with alfrescos painted on to the ceiling. The day’s specials are chalked up on a board by Dona Luchita herself, who runs the kitchen and makes sure everyone has a generally wonderful time. Ask for her recommendation of the day.
Jr Zepita 207, Chorillos.