Where to Find the Best Menús in Lima, Peru
By: Zach Diamond
If you are a tourist staying in Lima, you are likely (and for good reason) staying in either Barranco or Miraflores. However, being in the middle of a more touristy area doesn’t mean that there isn’t affordable, quality, and authentic food within walking distance. If you are looking for a quick and filling lunch, go for a stroll to find a good menú nearby. While you can find them on just about any street during lunch time, here are three places that I found particularly tasty menú food.
Mercado de Barranco
A small, modest market situated on Jiron Union in the dead middle of the touristy area of Barranco, here you can find some of the best menús in the city. My absolutely favorite menú which I went back to several times is Restaurant Teo. Directly next to the super popular cevicheria, Canta Ranita (also an amazing place), Restaurant Teo offers comforting and satiating meals daily. If nothing on their menú del dia tickles your fancy, there are two other stalls within the market and a restaurant next door. All of these menús charge 8 soles (~$2.50 at the time of writing) and offer quality food. This area is in walking distance to El Puente de Los Suspiros and the main park, so it is great lunch option if you are spending the day wandering the bohemian, art-filled streets of Barranco.
Around Mercado de Surquillo
Right on the border of Miraflores, Mercado de Surquillo no. 1 is a bustling marketplace for high end Peruvian ingredients. If you are a nerd about ingredients like I am, you can spend hours walking around aimlessly asking vendors about various fruits and chilis, trying fresh squeezed juices, and aweing over the fish section. If you do indeed do this, and happen to build up an appetite in the process (you will), take a walk outside to the surrounding streets to find some fantastic menús. If you are craving fish, there are several cevicherias behind the main building adjacent to the fish markets. Here you can find fresh ceviche, chicharrones de pescado, and chilcano, an outstanding fish soup made from the leftover ingredients after making ceviche. On the streets beside the market, you can find bustling menús, packed and loud during lunchtime with extensive menus. I found that the louder and more crowded a place is, the better the food tends to be. Try to find a place where patrons fight for an empty seat and yell their orders to the server as he or she walks by. The experience makes the food taste even better. Because these restaurants tend to offer several dishes, many more than the standard menú, I found that some places have specialties. One restaurant might be known for their aji de gallina while another is known for its mondongo italiano. Therefore, I recommend asking surrounding strangers for recommendations. This is a surefire way to make friends and spark conversation as this can be a debated topic amongst regulars. You know you had a great menú experience when you leave shaking the hands of your new friends.
North Side of Barranco
While both Barranco and Miraflores boast a hefty tourist population, the residential area on the border seems to be locals only. However, this area has some great food and is either a walk or a quick cab away from either district. Head here if you are looking to elude all tourists and check out some residential side streets. On the corner of Jiron Jaén and Carlos Jarrieta, there is the modest and unassuming Mercado San Martin de Porres. During lunchtime, several market stalls offer small menús offering one or two dishes. Here, I had a great sudado de pescado made with fresh bonito. More popular menús exist on the other side of the market off of Jiron Soldado Cabada. If you walk up Cabada from the major street Avenida el Sol Este, you will definitely find a great place with food and company you will enjoy.