Since Lima transformed itself into the culinary capital of South America, each year travelers commit the same mistake. Loaded with flavor at every marketplace and at every corner café, Lima has surprisingly fresh and delicious food everywhere and at every budget.
And those looking to taste a slice of Peruvian gastronomy tend to flock to Lima’s most expensive restaurants and overspend.
That’s not to say that a dinner reservation at Central or Maido shouldn’t be on your list during your time in Lima (in fact we recently highlighted our picks for best restaurants in Lima) or a Lima gastronomic tour. But Peruvian food has always been accessible, and by bypassing Lima’s more casual and humble restaurants, travelers here miss out on the full spectrum of Peruvian food.
Here at our Lima, Peru travel agency, our experience is that most travelers tend to be too cautious in branching out and trying casual Lima restaurants to really get a good range of authentic Peruvian food when in Lima. From tasting traditional Peruvian dishes (like lomo saltado, ceviche, and anticuchos), to trying different Peruvian sauces (like aji, huacatay sauce, and huancaina sauce), to sampling Peruvian fruits (like camu camu, mangos, and chirimoya), most tend to be too careful.
So in an effort to encourage more international visitors to try a range of restaurants, here are some of our choices for top Lima restaurants for enjoying Peruvian food in a casual atmosphere. Like most casual Peruvian restaurants in Lima, most of these locations won’t take your reservation so you’ll want to be prepared to wait your turn.
Soup in Peru has always been a humble staple of the grey winter season. Which
makes Siete Sopas’ popularity as a restaurant that focuses on soups a strange phenomenon. You’ll almost never see Siete Sopas without a line outside it’s doors. But rest assured – the soup is mouth-watering and absolutely packed with flavor (you can wait for a table or takeout is always available). Some of the most well-known Peruvian soups featured on the menu include sopa criolla, patasca, and sancochado. Rest assured, there’s more on the menu than just soups but we frankly don’t think you’ll need anything else after a hot, steaming bowl of Peruvian goodness. Av. Arequipa 2394, Lince 15046
Peruvian sandwiches are a thing of beauty. With fresh-baked bread, thick cuts of meat, and a range of sauces, Peruvian sandwiches like the Butifarra, Pan con Asado, and the Pan con Lomita Ahumado are always a perfect option for a casual meal. And no one does it better than the Peruvian chain La Lucha. With a principle location right on Parque Kennedy in Miraflores, La Lucha always attracts a crowd especially at night. Service is casual and fast, but La Lucha does not scrimp on flavor. We recommend a lunch here at one of the many locations throughout Lima. Calle Mártir José Olaya 250, Miraflores 15074
Anticuchos de la Tia Grimanesa
A restaurant that exemplifies the Peruvian ‘huarique’ (a humble restaurant that
specializes in one menu item). Anticuchos are literally beef hearts that have been seasoned and skewered, and, when done right, perfectly satisfy your carnivorous cravings. This restaurant started out as a popular food cart and morphed into its current location in Miraflores. It’s nearly always standing-room only here, and though the food and atmosphere is certainly not trendy, it’s certainly delicious. Calle Ignacio Merino 466, Miraflores 15074
Origen Tostadores de Cafe
There’s nothing like a perfectly prepared cup of Peruvian coffee. And we think we
may have found the perfect Lima, Peru restaurant in which enjoy a coffee experience. Origen Tostadores de Café originally opened one small café in Pueblo Libre, near to the Larco Museum, but has now added two more cafes nearer to Miraflores. The cafes offer a wide range of coffee preparation styles (cold brew, nitro, French press, espresso, etc) and a large range of flavors. Plus, each location usually has a delicious quiche or Peruvian dessert prepared. One of the best things to do in Lima, Peru is taste some of the delicious coffee that is being cultivated in Satipo, Villa Rica, and other growing locations throughout the country. Av. Faustino Sanchez Carrion 479, Magdalena
Isolina Taberna Peruana
Probably the ‘fanciest’ option on this list, this Barranco neighborhood establishment offers full Peruvian menu options from ceviches, to bistec a lo pobre, to sandwiches and more. You’ll want to bring your appetite but not your formalwear as this place is known for offering great food in the context of an old creole tavern. The dedication that Isolina has to quality even helped it crack the top 50 Best Restaurants in South American last year. Peru, Av San Martin 101, Barranco
Restaurante Bar Cordano
If Isolina is the fancy cantina on this list then Cordano is it’s red-headed stepchild. Known for the being the antique, old-world bar is Downtown Lima, Cordano is located right next to the Presidential Palace making it a great stop for anyone near the Lima Plaza de Armas. The restaurant cuts their own fresh turkey sandwiches and is a great old-school Lima restaurant for a Pisco Sour. Catch a sandwich and a drink here in the afternoon on your way between the Plaza de Armas and the San Francisco church's Lima catacombs. Jirón Ancash 202, Cercado de Lima 15001
Always loaded with diners, the BuenaVista Café is a good restaurant in Lima to come for a coffee or sweet but a great place to stay for the view. There’s nothing quite like the view of the sea from the cliffs of the Malecon of Lima while taking a stroll along the seaside path (one of the best things to do in Lima). The BuenaVista is great for light bites and coffee drinks and to pass some time when the sun is shining down on Lima. Try the alfajor or pie de limon while enjoying a coffee. Malecón de la Marina 316, Miraflores 15074
One thing you’ll quickly find out in Lima is that everyone has a different restaurant they think serves the best ceviche in Lima. Well, after tasting dozens of ceviches, the most famous Peruvian dish, we think the little-known Piscis tops them all. Though without a restaurant in the touristy parts of Lima, Piscis is a chain with eight locations throughout the city including in San Miguel. The restaurants themselves are nothing memorable inside, but the plates of ceviche are filling, perfectly prepared, and are cheaper than many ceviche alternatives in Lima. Try the leche de tigre here too for an extra shot of flavor. We think you’ll leave Lima thinking that this is one of the best restaurants in Lima, Peru for ceviche. Av. Brigida Silva de Ochoa 296, San Miguel
Antigua Taberna Queriolo
This staple bar of the district of Pueblo Libre has been attracting diners and bar goers for nearly 150 years. It doesn’t get much more old-world and classic than this Lima tavern that epitomizes the Lima bars of old. While offering a wide range of drink
options from the Pisco Sour to chilcanos and more, the Antigua Taberna Queriolo also serves a full menu of sandwiches, appetizers, and dinner options. This is the best restaurants in Lima to visit right after a visit to the Larco Museum, which sits only about 15 blocks from the Tavern. Av San Martin 1090, Pueblo Libre 15084
La Casa del Alfajor
When you need your sweet tooth satisfied, there’s nothing quite like La Casa del Alfajor. What is an alfajor you ask? The Peruvian alfajor might be one of the simplest but most delicious Peruvian desserts. It’s essentially two cookies held together by a sinful filling called ‘manjar blanco’ – a carmel-like substance that may just be the most delicious thing you’ve tasted. There’s no restaurant in Lima that does the alfajor quite like La Casa del Alfajor, and there are numerous locations throughout Lima where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and an afternoon treat. Other Peruvian dessert favorites here include ‘turron’ and the wafer-thin ‘mil hojas.’ Avenue Conquistadores 699, Lima 27, Perú
What did we miss? What are your favorite casual restaurants in Lima? Get in touch with us here to get our full list of the 15 Can't Miss Restaurants in Lima.