August 27 – September 9, 2015
Peruvians are known for their innovative cuisine and Cusco’s restaurants showcase fine examples of their talents. Below are some of our favorite and not so favorite dining experiences.
Cicciolina – located two blocks up from the Plaza de Armas on a courtyard off of Calle Triunfo, this was our overall favorite dining experience in Cusco. We made reservations over a week in advance after failing to get in on a Thursday evening and discovering the next two evenings were also completely booked.
Over-sized contemporary art graces the red painted walls of the small, chic dining room with black furniture.
We started with the trout ceviche – super fresh large chunks dowsed with a citrus sauce table side giving the fish a more raw than marinated texture. Fabulous if you like raw fish.
For mains a very different osso buco made with caramelized onions in a port sauce. Super yummy. Just don’t expect the usual Italian flavor profile. The tagliatelle with chicken in a white wine cream sauce was good but nothing special.
Dessert, a rich chocolate mousse with a lucuma mousse for contrast, was pleasing to look at but missing the dash of sea salt which was mentioned in the menu description and is needed to balance the sweetness of the local fruit.
Baco – same owner and chef as the popular Cicciolina. Located on Calle las Ruinas across the street from the JW Marriot, this establishment, decorated in dark rustic wood, has a warm and cozy ambiance. The servers were friendly and efficient and spoke good English. The food, however, was inconsistent.
We loved the grilled vegie and fruit starter that included grilled mango, tomato, red pepper and onion among others.
For mains we tried the special of the day; a twice-pepper-crusted steak grilled and served with cheesy fettucine. Ordered rare the steak was on the tough side and they should have skipped the second pepper crust as it overwhelmed the flavor of the beef. The penne with pesto sauce had great flavor.
For drinks I ordered a pisco sour – as I do most nights. Here, however, they made it a double without my asking. Cost about 2 -4 soles more than at other places. For some that may be a bargain but for me the extra alcohol at this altitude was a bit much.
Greens Organic – located on Sta Catalina Angosta just off the Plaza de Armas, has a casual atmosphere with great food that focuses on vegetables.
We started with the trout ceviche – a lovely dish with just the right amount of acid.
For mains we tasted the grilled trout on a bed of zucchini noodles – perfectly done and tasty –
and the alpaca on ratatouille. While the alpaca was nicely done and tender the ratatouille was rawish with more South American seasoning rather than the classic herbes de Provence.
Incanto – with a bigger dining room, including a large pizza oven in the center of the room, this restaurant caters to large groups without diminishing the quality of the food or service. It is also on Sta Catalina Angosta next door to Greens Organic.
We started with the bruschetta with two crusty slices of each topping – tomato and capers; and mushrooms. A nice starter that was not too filling but packed with flavor. The capers, however, might be overwhelming for some. For mains we ordered the grilled trout on Mediterranean vegetables – beautifully cooked –
and cuy (guinea pig) served with mashed potatoes. The half cuy for one was not the best representation of this local dish as the small animal was over cooked and not very meaty.
Nuna Raymi – located a half block off of Plaza de Armas on Calle Triunfo, this warm and homey dining room is less expensive than most of the other restaurants listed here. Still, the food is well prepared with a great attention to quality. We started with the homemade chips served fresh hot and generously peppered. For mains we tried the classic preparation of the lomo saltado (beef stir fry) with onions and tomato –
and the trucha dos imperios – quinoa coated trout filets in a sweet citrus sauce – not too sweet, served with a side of vegies. Both dishes were nicely done and made to order, however the trout had sat a little too long before serving and was not as hot as it should have been.
Jack’s Café – a backpackers’ favorite is located on Calle Hatunrumiyoc. From Plaza de Armas, take Calle Triunfo up a couple of blocks towards San Blas. This is the place to come if you are missing favorites from home. I ate here a number of times after class during my two weeks of studying Spanish. While some dishes are right on the mark others miss.
I love their huevos rancheros, but the only thing Tuscan about their Tuscan soup was the drizzle of pesto and sprinkle of parmesan on an otherwise spicy tomato based potato soup. The Mediterranean salad has a nice medley of vegetables and is served with a side of pita and hummus.
Sumaqcha – located on Calle Suecia a half block off the Plaza de Armas, this top Tripadvisor pick is a fun casual Peruvian eatery. The owner, server and bar tender is a trip to watch in action, running up and down the stairs and from one table to another with great efficiency and always with an easy smile on his face.
We started with guacamole and bread, a nice flavorful beginning made better by their housemade chile and onion dip. For mains the trout with onions and tomatoes and the
Rocoto Relleno, a local Cusqueño dish consisting of doughy batter fried peppers stuffed with a rich ground beef filling. Great comfort food served fresh hot and would be an excellent way to load up before a trek.
Laguana Azul – if you like fish and are visiting the archeological sites north of Cusco this is the place to stop. Fish doesn’t get any fresher than being plucked out of the restaurant’s own trout pond.
Located on the road of many shops and restaurants between Saqsaywaman and Qenqo, the restaurant has a lovely outdoor patio next to the pond, a local favorite on Sunday afternoons.
We tried their grilled trout
and chicharron de chancho (fried pork) – both tasty and wonderfully done.