One of the things we enjoy writing (and talking) about most is food. This time it’s about our love for Peruvian food: the colors and flavors, textures and freshness are unbeatable. We’ve found that no matter what the problem is, ceviche is probably the answer. As Peruvian food continues to take over the culinary scene worldwide, you’re going to want in on the local action. If you’re in Peru, especially Lima, you need to try as many of these as you can so you can see for yourself why Peru has some of the best food in the world. Peruvian food recipes take advantage of the wide variety of ingredients found throughout the country, many that are exclusive to the country and regions, so you’re exotic foodie experiences will be far from dull here.

 

A beginner's guide to the best peruvian dishes

 

With the number of official dishes in Peru, they say you could eat for two years straight without repeating a dish. We’ll let you try to do that in whatever time you have. We covered what we believe are the best Peruvian dishes in Lima, with nods to the best typical Peruvian dishes from a few other regions in case you don’t have time to get around and try them where they originate from. We added some of our personal favorite spots in the city to try each meal in case our description wins you over and you need it instantly. Just to get you started, of course there are a million places that serve each wonderfully in Lima, it’s hard to go wrong.

 

Read more: The Best Ceviche in Lima: Local Spots That Are Way Better Than Five Stars

 

One piece of advice, on top of what to eat, is how to eat: go with an amigo. Peruvian dishes are known to be served in massive portions, so it’s best to start with less, share, and then work your way up. Now go enjoy some of the best food of your life!

 

Ceviche

¿Pescado o mixto? Fish or mixed? The question you’re going to be asked a million times when you begin eating ceviche. If you’re unsure how to answer and want to experience the most, we recommend ordering mixto, because it’s the pescado with added seafoods, such as octopus, calamari and shrimp, so you’ll get a variety. To help you fall in love with ceviche before trying it in person, here’s our breakdown of the mouth-watering, wildly-popular Peruvian dish.

 

Ceviche at Mercado Numero 1 Surquillo Lima Peru

 

It’s basically fresh fish in lime juice (raw at first but slowly cooks in the lime juice), with a little bit of garlic, cilantro and chili. It comes with onion, Peruvian corn, crunchy corn kernels and sometimes a bit of calamari or other fried bits. We can’t get enough of this dish, along with many other locals and foreigners alike, but you can’t have it for every meal if that’s what you’re hoping for. While a favorite breakfast as a hangover cure, or everyday lunchtime favorite, this is not something you are going to be having for dinner. Whether the time between lunch and dinner actually make a significant difference or not, Peruvians refuse to eat ceviche at night because it’s not as fresh, having been fished in the early morning. You probably won’t see it available for dinner, and if you do, we recommend following the local lead and not ordering at night.

 

Read more: Viñac: Five Hours and a World Away from Lima

 

So go earlier in the day, in or near markets are the easiest place to walk up and feel like you “discovered” the best place in the city (somehow they’re all that good), and eat a ton of ceviche! Great with a side of chicarron (fried seafoods), or a 50/50 plate with arroz con mariscos (rice with seafood in a red sauce). Don’t leave any seaside town or city without trying it, and as it becomes rapidly more popular worldwide, you’ll want to have tried the original thing while you can. (Also: cebiche and ceviche are the same. Nobody seems to know exactly how to spell it, but this always throws off a few travelers!)

 

Cevicheria Bam Bam,

Address: Jiron Luis Varela y Orbegozo 213 Surquillo, Lima – Peru

 

Tiradito tres colores (Three Color Tiradito)

 

 Tiradito 3 Colores at Punto Azul Miraflores Lima peru

 

If you love ceviche and can’t stop eating it, we give you a very close friend of the dish, tiradito tres colores. Often confused for carpaccio or sashimi, this is the more sophisticated version of ceviche, with no onions and three different incredible sauces that will actually blow your mind. “Tiradito” means “lying down”, which is how the long slices of raw fish are laid before having the rich sauces poured on top. Heavier with spices and intense flavors, tradito tres colores may be an even better recipe that ceviche, but it’s not something you can or will want to eat as often as the staple dish. It’s an incredible example of how Peruvian chefs can turn simple ingredients into world-class dishes. Even though ceviche will always be our first love, this plate is a very close second!

(Usually offered with a choice of 3 sauces, aji amarillo is a classic and our personal favorite, while cheese-lovers can’t get enough of the parmesan or pesto, and the intense olive sauce is a favorite among bold foodies. For more spice, rocoto also pairs nicely with the aji.)

Punto Azul

Address: Calle San Martin 595, Miraflores

 

Leche de tigre (“Tiger’s Milk”)

If the name doesn’t give you an idea of what this is, don’t worry, nobody can figure it out before trying it. And no, there is no tiger milk in it, which many foreigners ask immediately (sorry to disappoint you, but when you tell your friends at home what you ate, they don’t have to know that…). This dish is simply ceviche with milk added and a slight increase in the same spices. By milk added, we should probably say that it’s a large cup of milk with ceviche added. While it sounds weird, it’s absolutely incredible, and a staple like ceviche but with extra of that delicious juice you want with each bite. Often served in smaller cups as an appetizer or side, if it’s the same price as ceviche you’re going to be getting a large portion- but that’s never been a problem for us.

Recommendation: They will ask you how picante you want it, in regards to how much chili you want. Remember that Peruvians can handle a lot of spice, so I recommend going for “un poco picante (a little spicy)”. If you ask for full on “picante”, you’ve earned my respect. You’ll see why.

 

Leche de Tigre at La peruanita at Mercado Numero 1 Surquillo Lima Peru

 

 

El Veridico de Fidel

Address: Jiron Colon 246 Miraflores, Lima – Peru

 

Read more: Sandboarding in the Desert Oasis Town of Huacachina, Peru

 

Almejas al limón (Clams with Lime)

 

We still cannot get over this one, it’s so simple yet delicious, so quick yet charming, these little clams are our new weakness in the seafood world. Served raw on the shell, the addition of lime and salt comes together to make a whole much greater than the sum of its parts. Again, an example of how many of the best Peruvian dishes turn simple into amazing.

El Rincon de Bigote

Address: Jiron Jose Galvez 529, Miraflores, Lima – Peru

 

Tacu-Tacu de mariscos (“Smash smash” with Seafood)

 

Tacu Tacu en Salsa de Mariscos Lima Peru

 

A marvel of re-heated food. Tacu-tacu, meaning “smash smash” in Quechua, is a mash of reheated beans and rice from the day before with a special sauce that makes a crunchy crust around it, and on top of that you can order it with a seafood “sauce” that embellishes the flavor, and adds a varietey of delicious seafoods such as calamari, octopus and shrimp. You can get many versions of tacu-tacu but this one gives you another excuse to experience the shockingy fresh and delicious seafood that Lima has to offer. Whoever thought of this dish is a genius in the kitchen. You can’t leave Lima without trying this, but again, you’re going to need to share this gigantic dish with someone.

El Rincon de Bigote

Address: Jiron Jose Galvez 529, Miraflores, Lima – Peru

 

Aji de gallina (Aji Chicken)

Many people’s favorite criolla dish (part of a category of traditional homestyle dishes), aji de gallina has the texture of a thick creamy soup, but a flavor created by the gods. When you’re done loading up on fresh seafood, or maybe the cold seaside weather has you craving something warm, this is one of your first stops. Made with flavorful but non-spicy yellow peppers, chicken and milk, this dish is blended and served hot and heavy. This bright yellow dish normally comes with rice (like everything in Peru), potatoes, and a boiled egg. If you’re having fish for every meal and want a cozy, comfort food type of dish, this is it.

El Rincon Que No Conoces

Address: Jiron Bernardo Alcedo 363 Lince, Lima – Peru

 

Lomo Saltado (Wok-fried Beef)

 

 Lomo Saltado Lima Peru

 

Many would say this rivals ceviche as one of the most characteristic dishes of Peru, and when you try it you’ll see why the seemingly-simple dish is worth such hype. This dish is made of thinly-sliced beef, sauteed in a wok with tomatoes and onions in a mixture of oyster sauce, ginger, soy sauce, and cilantro. Served with sides of rice and french fries, this dish is great because it can be a staple budget-travelers meal, availabe in every market for a very affordable price, while also found in high-end restaurants with very high-quality cuts of meat. Loaded with flavor and guaranteed to fill you up, this is a dish you will stumble on a million times in Peru but shouldn’t translate into meaning it’s just a basic dish.

Pollos Hikari

Address: Avenida La Mar 2339, San Miguel, Lima – Peru

 

Pollo a la brasa (Rotisserie Chicken) 

The star of “fast food” in Peru, it’s the Peruvian version of hamburgers in the USA or fish and chips in England. You will see countless restaurants offering this, and when you’re ready to gorge with no frills, this is where to go. Pollo a la brasa is well-marinated chicken cooked slowly in rotisseries, just to the point of incredibly juicy on the inside and perfectly crunchy on outside. In Lima you will see as many “pollerias” as public phones (an expression you’ll hear Peruvians saying). You can’t go wrong with the big chains, and one of the best parts is the variety of sauces they offer for make your chicken that much better.

 

Gran Parrillada TImbo,

Address: Av. Bolivar 944 – Pueblo Libre

 

Papa a la huancaina (Huancaina Potatoes)

Huancaina is the sauce of the moment, and goes wonderfully with a million different types of food. While I can’t make it myself, I’m more than happy to just eat it, no questions asked. The main flavors of the sauce are cheese and mild orange chili peppers (ahi naranja), and can turn a pile of cold sliced potatoes or plain pasta into an orgasmic expereience- seriously. Even though it’s beginning to be exported everywhere, and there are some good bottled versions, this sauce made fresh is something everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing. The classic version is the sauce thickly poured over potatoes, and this 2-ingredient plate will taste more incredible than many 20-ingredient dishes elsewhere.

 Huancahuasi,

Address: Avenida Javier Prado Oeste 1405

 

 

Anticuchos (Grilled Cow Heart)

 

Anticuchos dish at Tio Mario Barranco Lima Peru

 

Yes, cow heart. While it sounds strange and probably disgusting to many foreigners, this is one of the most appreciated dishes in Peru, and any party or event that starts grilling them up is instantly better. Thinly sliced, marinated in a delicious sauce, and then skewered and grilled, you won’t know what type of beef it is until someone tells you and once you taste how delicious it is, you really won’t care. This is something you’ll see at any outdoor event, or sold by food carts and stalls on the street, and the recipe for the sauce at the most popular anticucho food cart is considered one of the best-kept secrets in the world. Affordable, quick, delicious, and something you can be proud to say you tried on your travels.

Anticuchos Grimanesa

Address: Jiron Felipe Barreda 475, Miraflores 15074

 

From other regions of Peru:

 

Rocoto relleno

From Arequipa, these stuffed peppers are one of the most popular dishes across the country. Spicier than a bell pepper, this has a kick that most don’t expect (and the flavor is much richer). Stuffed with beef and oozing melted fresh cheese, it’s hard to go wrong here.

 

Cuy Chactado

One of the “bucket-list” dishes in the Andes, this is what you’ve heard it is- guinea pig. Like they say wth everything, “it tastes like chicken”. Even a bit better…Many people try in Cusco or other highland towns, and it’s definitely something to experience, just push the memories of your kindergarten pet out of your head before you go.

 

Pachamanca

Cooked for hours underground, this is another Andean dish that shows the time and patience Peruvians dedicate to their food. Usually full of meats, potatoes and plantains, everything is so well-smoked and seasoned it’s such a shame that it’s not something you can exactly cook DIY once you return home.

 

If you LOVED this post and want to see MORE like it, GO like our page on facebook, follow us on twitter, or join our latest adventures on instagram. ¡Muchas gracias!