“I am very much about promoting Lima because I think Peru and the mountains and the Incas, everybody is aware of those, but Lima is something that people should discover – especially our food.” – Mario Testino, Peruvian fashion and portrait photographer
The verdict is in: more people are traveling to Peru for food than for Inca ruins.
It’s not just because Peruvian cuisine is delicious (which it undoubtedly is); it’s because Peru’s indigenous foods are marked by the country’s unique access to fresh fish, bold spices, and enough healthy super-foods to spark jealousy in any organic grocery store. From the Andes to the Amazon, Peru’s rich nutrients have become a point of national pride and given it a prized position on the global gastronomic stage.
This is why Ker & Downey has compiled a list of our favorite culinary experiences in Peru. From Pisco classes to picnics in the middle of nowhere, consider this your go-to guide for the perfect gourmet stay in the home of the Incas.
Sample Lima’s Restaurants | Move over New York! Lima now claims the title as the top destination to taste a sampling of the highest-ranking restaurants on the planet. Based on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, Lima joins the ranks of New York, London, and Mexico City as the only destinations with three restaurants making the cut. Even then, Lima’s average ranking beats out all of the others, due to the diverse culture and culinary creativity taking place at restaurants like Central (No. 4), Maido (No. 13), and Astrid y Gastón (No. 30). With the beloved national hero Gastón Acurio and his international chain of cevicherias serving as the torchbearers, Mitshuharu Tsumura as the champion of diversity and delicious Nikkei cuisine, and Virgilio Martínez Véliz catapulting indigenous Peruvian ingredients to stardom worthy of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, it’s no wonder why Peru has finally found its culinary stride.
Fortunately, Ker & Downey has access to coveted reservations at each of these gastronomic hotspots, as well as a list of additional exceptional dining options, such as the authentic criollo cooking of La Picanteria, the seafood of Cala, the ceviche of La Mar, and the trendy coffee and baked goods of El Pan de la Chola.
Explore Lima’s Markets with a Culinary Expert | There is no better introduction to the food of Peru than a market tour with Ker & Downey’s culinary expert. It’s at these markets where you can get to the heart and soul of the Peruvian people: to understand its many climates and traditions without leaving your chair. On a Ker & Downey market tour, our expert will take you to a local market to try fruits from all around Peru, such as cherimoya, pacae, mango, passion fruit, aguaymanto, aguaje, and more. She will then accompany you to a local restaurant and orders “off the menu” so you can enjoy the authentic Peruvian flavors in new combinations inaccessible to the public. Don’t like fruit? Or would prefer something even more local? Rise early in the morning and join her for an expedition to the local fish market, where you will have the chance to pick out your fish and create your own ceviche—a dish many Limeños prefer for breakfast.
Escape with a Sacred Valley Picnic | The Sacred Valley serves as a breathtaking preamble to its iconic neighbors, Cusco and Machu Picchu. Dotted with terraced saltpans, impressive Inca ruins and fortress, and charming indigenous villages, it is here where centuries-old tradition and cuisine is at its most authentic. To harness this mysticism and beauty, we suggest scheduling a special Sacred Valley picnic—an experience that takes you to a remote corner of the Valley to indulge in a private luncheon prepared just for you. You will be treated not only to a delicious multi-course meal fit for royalty but also to the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but the mountains and the landscape in sight.
Indulge in a private dinner at SUMAQ Machu Picchu Hotel | SUMAQ Machu Picchu Hotel is not only a five-star luxury property in Machu Picchu; it is also one of the finest dining establishments near the ancient Inca citadel. We recommend indulging in a lunch or dinner within the private enclosed terrace, where a special six-course meal can be paired alongside hands-on pisco sour and ceviche cooking demonstrations. Some specific tasting menu highlights to look forward to include a starter of Andean tubers with a Quishuarcancha mushroom duxelle sauce, a vibrant presentation of puca ceviche made with salmon trout and tiger’s milk flavored with Camu Camu and strawberry, and main dish pairing of slowly simmered lamb shank with an avocado risotto served au gratin with Andean cheese and Chiclayo duck magret, and a dessert finale of delicious Lucuma panna cota accompanied by coffee ice cream and a final conclusion of apple custard bavarois doused in Nutella cherimoya and Maras salt. We promise you’ve never tasted anything like it!
Partake in a Pisco Sour Class | The best way to truly understand and appreciate the complexities behind Peru’s national spirit is through a private Pisco Sour making class. It is here where you will learn that not does Pisco remain a source of national pride for Peruvians, but it also boasts an interesting history as rich and complex as the country itself. The elixir dates back to its origins to the Spanish conquistadors when, in the mid-16th century, Marquis Francisco de Caravantes imported the Pisco grapes to Peru from the northwest coast of Africa. 20 years later, Alvaro de Ponce founded the town of Santa María Magdalena in the valley of Pisco, where the soil quality, climate, cultivation of the vine, and storage techniques resulted in Pisco’s incomparable texture and led to its ultimate popularity. Today, Peruvian Pisco is still distilled with the same traditional methods as those first vines and utilizes only eight grape varieties to ensure authenticity remains the standard, no matter where you travel in Peru.
Seek Out the Local Craft Breweries | The last thing one might expect to find in Peru is a booming craft beer scene, yet Peru’s breweries are quickly giving Pisco a run for its money. What is particularly special about this craft beer movement is that there are no bounds when it comes to creativity and brewing in Peru, given the country’s diverse range of Andean grains and fruits. The presence of a rich agriculture has allowed brewers to freely experiment with ingredients while still maintaining the traditional flavors of the Peruvian palette. This means even the health conscious and organic eaters are supporting Peru’s booming craft beer scene. From Cumbres and Nuevo Mundo in Lima to Sacred Valley Beer Co. in Cusco, the opportunities for discovery are numerous and are available on any bespoke Ker & Downey journey to Peru.
The culinary diversity of Peru is an endless landscape of flavor profiles and indulgences. With our Peruvian Culinary Journey and our favorite experiences as your guide, contact your Ker & Downey consultant today to start planning your next tasty trip to this go-to gourmet destination.