Carnivore or Deep Thinker? Find Your Tasting Menu in LimaBy Karen Catchpole
One of the best ways to deep-dive into the acclaimed food scene in Lima, Peru is through the city’s chef-driven tasting menus.
Here’s how to find the tasting menu that’s right for you.
Best for card-carrying carnivores: Osso
Renzo Garibaldi’s butcher shop in the Lima suburb of La Molina quickly became a chef magnet, attracting some of the city’s biggest name toques, who sometimes congregated in the backroom for impromptu feasts.
That soon formalized into a real restaurant (#25 on the 2018 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants) and a second Osso opened in Lima’s San Isidro neighborhood in 2016.
Few know that the backroom private tasting menu experience is still in full swing in the original La Molina location of Osso, where guests get meat in all its forms: raw, super-aged, grilled, and more. Forks are intentionally hard to come by during this casual experience. Bring wet-naps.
Best for name droppers and deep thinkers: Central
The most famous tasting menu in Peru is served by Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pia León at Central (#5 on the 2018 list of World’s 50 Best Restaurants and #2 on the 2018 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants).
Two 17-course tasting menus are available (one is vegetarian) and each is arranged by altitude, with dishes featuring ingredients found at each altitude (dried potatoes from 12,700 feet or river snails from 600 feet, for example). Dishes provoke pleasure and contemplation and each plate is also a work of art.
Best for splurgy seafood lovers: Maido
Maido (#1 on the 2018 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants and #8 on the 2018 World’s Best List), is helmed by chef Mitsuharu Tsumura, who is famous for his blend of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine, which is called Nikkei.
The seafood-focused place has a sushi bar and an a la carte menu, but the 13-course tasting menu is the way to go if you want to see how this chef and his team handle a range of ingredients.
The restaurant’s famous fish hot dog course is playful and satisfying, and the raw fish courses (toro nigiri topped with a quail egg, for example) are outstanding.
Best if you want to see where the cuisine scene in Lima started: Astrid y Gastón Casa Moreyra
Chef Gastón Acurio’s fame began in 1994, when he and his wife, pastry chef Astrid Gutsche, opened Astrid y Gastón Casa Moreyra in a renovated mansion that dates back to the 1700s. Chef Acurio went on to become Peru’s first true celebrity chef and now presides over an international empire of restaurants.
Astrid y Gastón, a Relais & Chateaux restaurant, remains a Lima classic (#8 on the 2018 list of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants). The 11-course tasting menu is ambitious and meticulous, featuring dishes like sea urchin salad and confit suckling pig. The mansion setting is classy. Be sure to save room for dessert, which is a spectacular spread of morsels from Gutsche.