Restaurants in Cusco, Peru: Gastronomy & Typical Cuisine
While visiting the city of Cusco, you definitely have to take the time to try lots of the delicious local Peruvian cuisine. Although, thanks to the large tourist industry that exists here, there is also a great selection of international cuisine as well.
Fusion Cuisine at its Best
The richness of the local cuisine comes from the indigenous groups that inhabited the region over a thousand years ago. The most typical ingredients include vegetables like cassava, corn, and tarwi (a legume), which are all highly nutritious. As for meats, the people of Peru consume lots of "cuy" (guinea pig).
The local ingredients have been combined with those brought by the Spanish colonists and later with those introduced by immigrants from Asia, Europe and Africa. This mix of food has made Peruvian cuisine one of the most unique and exquisite in the world. The word "fusion" doesn't refer to a secondary characteristic of Peruvian cuisine, but defines it in its entirety.
In Cusco you'll find excellent restaurants and bars that serve typical Peruvian specialties, along with unique beverages and desserts. Below are some of the dishes you definitely must try during your vacation to Cusco.
Guinea pig is Peru's national dish and a specialty that you might consider trying while on vacation in Cusco. Cuy meat is somewhat similar to the dark meat of chicken, but contains less fat and is higher in protein. It is usually served broiled and entire, but it can also be found in soup in many restaurants in Cusco.
"Chicha" is an alcoholic beverage created from corn. Its origins date back to pre-Columbian times, when the Inca people first brewed it. "Chicha" is traditionally made by women, and sold in many places around Cusco, including the houses of some locals.
Papa Rellena (Stuffed Potato)
This is one of Peru's most traditional specialties and a dish you definitely should ask for when visiting the Cusco restaurants. Basically it consists of a delicious potato stuffed with ground beef, olives, vegetables, and boiled eggs. Once the potato has been stuffed, it is often fried to seal in the flavors and make it nice and crispy on the outside.
"Chifa" was created when Chinese food arrived to Peru and was blended with the local ingredients. The result is an exotic selection of extraordinary dishes that can be enjoyed in many of the restaurants in Cusco. In particular, the district of Wanchaq has very good Chifa places.
Chalona is the dried meat of alpaca or lamb. It is typically used as the main ingredient in a number of local recipes. Part of the process to make Chalona includes weeks of being exposed to the sun and cured with salt, which gives it a very unique flavor.
Tarwi is one of the hidden treasures of Peruvian gastronomy. When visiting the restaurants in Cusco, you can find it in a variety of presentations, including creams, soups or as a secondary ingredient in other dishes. Similar to peas, tarwi is much richer in protein and thanks to its versatility it can be used in a range of dishes, from sauces and purees to desserts.
This is a hearty soup made with meat, rice, potato, chickpeas, sausages, and chuno (dehydrated potato). It is definitely one of the most typical dishes in town.
A delicious dessert consisting of sweet tamales filled with cinnamon and raisins.
Pisco is considered Peru's national beverage. Produced mainly in the wine growing region of Moquegua, this distilled drink is similar in taste to brandy. During your vacation to Cusco you will be able to try a number of cocktails created using pisco, including the Pisco Sour, which combines lime juice, sugar and sometimes even an egg white.
Ceviche, or "cebiche", as it is spelled in most of the restaurants in Cusco, is one of the most representatives dished of Peruvian cuisine. Ceviche is also one of the best examples of fusion cuisine in the country. A standard ceviche normally includes chili peppers, onion, sweet potatoes and toasted corn. All ingredients are mixed and added to raw dice-sized cubes of fish marinated in lemon juice. An exquisite dish not to be missed!
Lucuma is an exotic fruit native to Peru. It vaguely resembles the sapote, but with clearer, thicker flesh. As it is intensely sweet, it is used as the main ingredient of many desserts, including delicious ice cream. Lucuma can also be found in juice, milk shakes and sauces.
Two Restaurants You Must Try!
El Gusto es Nuestro El Gusto es Nuestro is one of the most popular restaurants in Cusco. Located in the city center, it has all the makings of a perfect restaurant, including incredible local and international dishes, excellent service, a private yet cheerful atmosphere, and affordable prices. On top of all that, they dedicate a share of their profits to help promote education in the poorer areas of Peru.
2 Nations 2 Nations is another fine example of what a great restaurant should be like. It has a pleasant, friendly atmosphere and fantastic service, as well as excellent, creative dishes that really focus on the best of Peruvian cuisine. Located near the main square, this restaurant is one of the most popular in town. It's definitely a place well worth visiting during your vacation to Cusco.
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