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Going back to Peru, partly for the food and partly because there's so much to see. In Lima, we're going back to Astrid y Gaston. On this trip, we fly to Cusco the next day. On day 3, we tour the Sacred Valley. On day 4, we go to Machu Pichu but we're staying in Agua Caliente. On day 5, we return to Cusco to eat at Gaston Acurio's Chi Cha. On day 6, we fly home. I love Peruvian food, from cebiche, tiradito, tamales, causas, to cuy. Recs anywhere along the way would be appreciated. In my opinion, if there's one place to eat in Lima, it's Acurio's La Mar but they don't serve dinner and we're not in Lima in time for lunch on this trip. Also a trip to the central market in Lima with Chinatown next door is fun for people who like markets.

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Ate at Astrid y Gaston, Chicha (an Acurio joint in Cusco) twice, and some other restaurants in Cusco, Sacred Valley and Aguas Caliente (none worth noting).....the best food is at Gaston's joints.

Behind the tamales are ceviche sampler and Peking Guinea Pig (amazing).

In Aguas Caliente, we stayed at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo (an eco-resort that doesn't have TV or minibar). In the Sacred Valley, we stayed at Casa Andina Private Collection. We ate at the on-site restaurants because there's nothing else nearby or rain deterred us. Nice places to stay but not great food.

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How are there only two posts on the food heaven that is Peru? I'm in Lima now and had the chance to go to La barra at Casa Moreyra last night. This is a restaurant from Gaston, the famous Peruvian chef who has come to worldwide fame, and who is opening a restaurant in DC soon.

We ate at the more casual bar (which is a restaurant with tables, not just a bar) and forewent the fancy prix fix menu at the main restaurant. It was great, although maybe not as great as Asrtrid and Gaston was, the flagship, when it was open. The space is open and modern, and filled with plants. The menu is divided by place - food from the city, the sea, the farmland - and is made up of modern twists on Peruvian classics. We ordered a number of plates for the table, a guinea pig (cuy) taco plate with Asian accents, amazing quinoa burgers that were the highlight of the night and looked just like mini big macs, ceviche, a langoustine and shrimp Spanish tortilla, charred octopus with local potatoes (Peru has more than 200 native potatoes), rice with duck (a Peruvian specialty) and some very good cocktails. I'd highly recommend the restaurant.

Other restaurants that are excellent are:

Las brujas de cachiche

La mar

Huaca Pullana (in an Incan ruin)

And Central.

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We spent Thanksgiving in Peru. Our original plan was 4-5 days of eating and relaxing in Lima. But then my family invited themselves along and we ended up also going to Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, which was awesome. We had some really great tour guides and drivers. Happy to provide recommendations including for a fruit tasting, market tour and cooking class.

Lima-

Hotel B - This the "hot" boutique hotel in Lima right now. Reasonable by U.S. prices but really expensive for Lima. That said, we loved it. Huge room, modern luxurious bathroom.  Breakfast and high tea were included and delicious. My mind has been forever changed about the power of properly prepared quinoa with fried eggs for breakfast. They are also famous for their Pisco Sours, in their bar. We tried several and really enjoyed them.  Also, they always have sparkling wine chilling at their check in desk. We were quite happy to partake often.

La Mar Cebicheria - From the owners of Astrid&Gaston. We arrived around 2 pm on Wednesday and the place was hopping. We were quoted a 30 minute wait for a table but then were quickly offered seats at the bar. We had an amazing meal. Started with a couple cocktails- including a Leche de Tigre Pisco Sour (complete with chunks of fish) recommended by a friend who works at the James Beard Foundation that I really enjoyed the first few sips of and then just ate the fish. Other fruity cocktails were excellent. We left a little tipsy. The menu is expansive and a little overwhelming given my mediocre high school Spanish skills. Luckily the waiter was helpful and ordered for us. Starting with the ceviche sampler- three different styles of ceviche each delicious with a range of types of fish and seafood. But the hot dishes were by far our favorites of the meal. Squid and octopus a la plancha with corn and potatoes was so incredibly savory and the seafood perfectly cooked. It was heaven. We also got the langostine special- six huge langostines coated in a butter, garlic and parsley.  We were stuffed at that point but really wanted to order more food.

Astrid&Gaston - We did the full ten course tasting menu. Their accolades are well deserved and the Casa Moreyra is beautiful. The wine list was not particularly interesting and the sommelier seemed genuinely shocked when we said we wanted only Latin American wines. But what he picked we really enjoyed ad it complemented the food nicely. The menu was very tuber heavy, including one that was so starchy and coarse it was hard to eat. This is traditional for Peru but given the season it would have been nice to see some green. The pacing of the meal was brisk but not too fast.

Pardo's Chicken - Classic, Peruvian roast chicken. Pardo's is a casual chain that caters to families and it is CHEAP. Our meal for four people came to under $25. The chicken is fantastic. We got a whole chicken that was incredibly flavorful and moist. Also ordered fries, plantains a lo pobre, an Argentine chorizo and beef anticuchos. Fries really stood out as did the plantains.

Central - San Pellegrino Worlds 50 Best has them currently at #4 in the world. We've been in the past year or so to #'s 1- Celler de Can Rocas, 3- Noma, 5- Eleven Madison Park and 7-Dinner as well as 6-Mugaritz but that was in 2009 and we hated it. Is Central on par with the other five? Honestly, I'm not sure. If you are just evaluating based on service, definitely not. Wine list, also definitely not. We got the wine pairing and it nicely complemented the food but for a restaurant that is all about South American and local Peruvian products the pairings were at least half European. The food is visually beautiful and as a point of comparison more like Noma and Mugaritz than Can Rocas, EMP or Dinner. Some of the menu items- notably the octopus dish were incredibly delicious and others were kind of weird, like the bread which smelled like marijuana. The meal is about 16 courses and by the end we were all pretty stuffed so our ability to enjoy the last couple proteins was limited despite how well prepared and thoughtfully developed.  We were in Peru with our "non-foodie" family who were intrigued by the meal but also not overwhelmed by it or too challenged by the ingredients to enjoy the experience.

Maido - Also a top restaurant in Latin America and ranked No. 44 globally, No. 5 in Lat Am, making it top 3 in Lima. We did the full Nikkei tasting menu for our last meal in Lima. Honestly, it was our favorite "big meal" of the trip but that could be a factor how much we generally enjoy Asian style food. We thought there would be more sushi, but it ended up only being one of the 17 courses. This was also the only meal on the trip where we were served cuy. Standout courses included a giant Amazonian river snail, sweet bread sushi and the ceviches. We also ordered several cocktails that were really delicious and refreshing. It was a long but very fun meal.

Overall, high end dining in Lima is a really good value for the money. Our meals at Central and Astrid&Gaston with alcohol were both under $200 per person. Maido around $125.

Sacred Valley-

As noted by others, the food there is really nothing to write home about. We stayed at the Tambo Del Inka resort, which was lovely. We had breakfast there and ordered room service one night. All the food we had was very good and well prepared.  We ended up eating the lunch buffet at Machu Picchu as opposed to bringing a box lunch or eating at the snack bar. By Peruvian standards, at $40 per person it is massively overpriced. But considering the schlep, altitude and crowding, it was nice to sit down to a meal and relax a little bit. They were carving pork loin and turkey breast, there were lots of salads and other local specialties on the buffet. The restaurant was really clean and the food was clearly freshly prepared. It was as close to a "Thanksgiving" meal as we had on the trip and honestly, the turkey breast was really good- they know how to roast meat in that country.

One thing to note- there seems to be some controversy over the safety of eating fresh fruits and vegetables in Peru given the fact that the tap water isn't drinkable by US standards. Lots of higher end places and restaurants that cater to tourists have signs up saying they wash their produce in filtered water. We ate fresh produce at the resorts and high end restaurants. It would be hard not to eat fruit in Peru- they have access to incredible product and it is all too pretty not to eat.

As always, photos are up on Instagram.

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Do you have any recommendations for tour companies and/or guides for travelling in Peru, for two people with no Spanish language ability? I am contemplating a trip to Peru (possibly also Ecuador or Bolivia) this winter.  I was watching Netflix's Chef's Table episode on Central and it looked quite interesting.  

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I do not think Peru would be too difficult to travel in alone, but I went with my sister and for ease and comfort we traveled with gadventures. They do a great job of getting you place to place and arranging hotels. They are a small group company- so I think the average number of travelers is 12 (we had 7.) You cover a lot of ground but it isn't stressful sine you don't have to think about getting place to place. They have various levels of comforts/inclusions from very basic (backpacker level wtih nothing included) to much nicer hotels with more scheduled tours and stops. we went the middle road.  https://www.gadventures.com/trips/inca-empire/PIML/

 

If you are interested in the Amazon, I can not highly enough recommend Amazonia Adventures http://perujungle.com/  It isn't the cheapest place but I felt like I got a huge amount of value from the private guide (every group gets one), great food and really nice rooms.

My trip regret was not spending more time in La Paz. It isn't for everyone, it is definitely gritty, but I LOVED it. and the visa isn't cheap, so you might as well stay a while.

 

Day tours used were: Haku tours in Lima for an orientation/history tour and  Banjo Tours in La Paz. This is all from 2015. PM me with any questions. I LOVED Peru/Bolivia. I went to Ecuador in 2016 so I can answer specific questions here or through PM.

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