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Our Lima Gastronomy Experience

Many people we have met during our travels have visited Lima. Almost all of them because the city is the international hub and they were simply passing through. I don’t recall any of them staying for more than a few days before they headed to a different part. We had slightly different plans. We were going to be in the city for an entire week for two very particular reasons.

The first reason was to attend Spanish school Monday – Friday from 9am to 1pm. We went thru Peruwayna school which received awesome reviews online but if I had to be honest I was a bit let down. 20hrs worth of Spanish lessons and I didn’t learn much at all. It was mostly a refresher course on the very little Spanish that we already knew. Definitely a let down.

The other reason was the food! Months before leaving Chicago I kept reading about the food scene here in Lima.  The top two restaurants in Latin America are located in Lima. is  The #7 restaurant in Latin America, Maido, is also in Lima.

Christmas gifts were a bit difficult this past December for us. We were saving money for the trip and really didn’t want or need anything in particular. I decided to print out all the information I could on Central (The #1 restaurant in Latin America), make reservations for us and print out a map and information on Lima’s shopping district in Larcomar and promised to take Lindsay shopping for an outfit and then out to dinner at Central for Christmas.

Long story short but the original plans for coming through Lima in April were cabashed early on in our trip and I’ve been looking forward to this visit for a long time now. We ended up eating at 4 different highly rated restaurants in Lima (#1, #2, #7 and #27 on the Top 50 Latin America Restaurants list) and ate at Central twice – once for lunch and once for dinner. We dined like kings and queens and are credit card statements can confirm that. These restaurants played a big role in us completely blowing our budget while in Lima and helping account for the most expensive day we’ve had yet – an $1100 day that included a $475 lunch and later casino loses that topped $400.  #whoopsies

If you enjoy some good food porn keep scrolling down, if not you can stop reading right now.

I completely understand why Central is the #1 restaurant in Latin America and Astrid y Gastón is the #2. Both of these places are absolutely incredible. We ate at Central for lunch and dinner and at Astrid y Gastón for lunch. The A y G lunch was pretty hilarious because we left straight from our Spanish school, were wearing shorts and t-shirts and had our backpack. I had no idea that it was one of if not thee swankiest place in Lima. I had told Lindsay that I didn’t think that their tasting menu was more than 5 courses. I was just a bit off — there were 30 courses! #whoopsies

The food these places served was absolutely incredible. It tasted wonderful and the presentation was mind-blowing. And so were the bills. Wine pairings, the tasting menu, waters and tip came to $475 at both places. So it ain’t cheap, but it is awesome.

We took hundreds of pictures – full albums are below, but I am going to show just about a dozen or so of my favorite dishes.

Yes, I know – this isn’t food. But I wanted to call out something very cool that Astrid y Gaston do. When you check in they do not take you right to your table, but instead give you a tour of the mansion the restaurant is located in and bring you through the kitchen. Everyone was super friendly (and busy). I loved the energy in this place. Very cool touch.

This was a little bite-sized nugget of deliciousness. Goat cheese, brioche and olives. I hate olives. Absolutely 100% hate them. Would rather get punched in the face multiple times than have to eat them. But this one bite was somehow unbelievably good.

We both loved this dish. Avocado, coriander (which btw is cilantro — everywhere else in the world it’s called coriander, but for one reason or another we call it cilantro in the states) rocoto and vegetable ceviche. This didn’t last long on the plate.

My god did I love this plate. The taste was just as good as it looks. One of my favorite pictures – taken with our cell phone so props to the Moto X here. This is described as beef, brassicas & soy sprouts. The beef was kobe, the cut was rib-eye and the taste was out of this world. I tried my hardest to take my time with this to enjoy.

One thing is for sure: If you are going to open a crazy restaurant you need to have white, trippy plates – like these. And you also need to make trippy-esque food, like this. While it looks exactly like an egg that has cracked open it is in fact not an egg. The shell was made out of sugar and I forgot what the yolk was. There is also chicken on the plate somewhere (chicken and the egg…get it?) From a taste perspective this wasn’t my favorite, but pretty fun to be served it.

This was our favorite dish from Astrid y Gaston. If we can have several favorites… It was so good and so good looking (there are more close ups in the full album). Described on the menu as “Ranfanote, raw sugar, cinnamon, coconut, rum and raisins” We could have eaten 25 of these plates.

This dish is from Central – I should actually say these two dishes are from Central. And when you go here you have got to be ready. YOU need to bring your ‘A’ game because the crazy food comes out non-stop like this. All the dishes and platings were insane. Sometimes we would laugh because we we’re sure what was the food, what was the plate and what was a decoration. I accidentally ate 2 wooden boxes just like these. JK.

Another very cool thing about Central was their tasting menu was titled “Mater Elevations” and each dish was sourced from a specific elevation from within Peru. The menu ranged from -20 meters (in the sea) to 3900 meters (in the Andes).

This particular dish, titled Amazonia Colors, had a variety of foods I cannot pronounce on it that were harvested from 400 meters above sea level. It also was the most awesome-looking dish we had while in Lima. The colors were crazy. There are a few more pics from different angles in the full album below.

This was a desert from Central titled “Valley between the Andres” and had ingredients sourced from 2190 meters above sea level.

At lunch Lindsay ordered warm ceviche with leche de tigre (tiger milk) from Central. We ordered a la carte so I didn’t have this plate sitting in front of me. I now just realized how gorgeous it was.

The first bite I had of this I couldn’t believe how good it was. That weird looking shaved stuff on top is foie gras. The liver is cooked, made into a “sausage” cooled, but not froze, and then shaved over a warm apple and onion marmalade of sorts so that when the foie gras hits your mouth…it literally melts in your mouth. Wow.

Ok – this was actually difficult to eat. It looked more like a piece of art than perfectly cooked grouper with quinoa. When we did get the courage to dive in the contents of the plate went quickly.

This is goat that has been cooked for 18 hours, covered in arugula and then plopped on top of some crazy-awesome-looking sauce. The weird thing about this though…I ordered it as my main course for lunch. Not so weird until I tell you that I don’t like goat. Never have, probably never will. Why did I order it? I’m an idiot.

Ok, last one. This was our trio of deserts from Central. By the time this came out I had drank a couple of real nice (and real stiff) manhattan’s plus I was enjoying a glass of some Cuban sipping rum at this moment. So I was the proud owner of a healthy buzz. The waiter was kind of enough to spend a few extra minutes making sure that I was aware what was the food and what wasn’t. What a guy!

 

What about the other restaurants?

We ate at two other top 50 restaurants while we were here. Rafael which is a European style bistro aka a regular restaurant with a menu that your order from and don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars and four hours to eat there. And it was awesome. We had so much fun and the food was super good. I would go back there in a heartbeat. Tough (for me at least) to want to go back to Astrid y Gastón for instance for another 30-course tasting menu.

The other place is the #7 spot on the top 50 list – Maido – a Japanese restaurant that is also ranked #44 in the world. I have to say – not very impressed. This one made me question whether the whole “World’s Top…” ratings were a bit rigged. I just didn’t have that great of a meal. We ordered sashimi, rolls, a little Japanese sandwich and a pork belly dish. None of it was impressive and I had to send my pork belly back to actually be cooked (it was supposed to be crispy but was soggy and room temperature).

I would totally show you all the pictures we took of the food from Maido if we took pictures. The thing is we didn’t Because I forgot our phone. Because I am an idiot. I can tell you though I am not sure that any of the pics would have made the cut next to the plates from Astrid or Central.

Our friends at Tour the Tropics wrote an awesome piece on 100 Things to do in Peru and they mentioned us in their #19 recommendation on trying the local cuisine. If you’re thinking about heading to Peru make sure you read this!

Central Restaurant

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Astrid Y Gastón

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2 thoughts on “Our Lima Gastronomy Experience

  1. Jon

    You obviously have no taste. The pork at Maido is exquisite and it’s a far better restaurant than Central. Why on earth would you order a la carte though?!

    1. Jeff Post author

      Hi Jon! Thanks for leaving the comment. I still stand by our post, the meal at Maido was definitely the my least favorite out of the 3 places we visited. We were a bit worn out from the lengthy meals at Astrid and at Central – didn’t want to invest the time, energy or money into a tasting menu and glad we didn’t. Jeff

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