Over the last 20 years, Lima’s food scene has grown from just a blip on the radar to a full on movement. Internationally trained chefs have gone back to their roots, creating dishes inspired by the Andes and the Amazon, and the world has taken notice. The markets of Lima, once marred by food shortage, now overflow with potato varietals and locally grown fruits. Once forgotten foods have been reinvented and moved back onto restaurant menus. And with influence from the High Andes, the Pacific Coast, Spanish colonists, and Italian and West African migrants, Peruvian food is far from simple. Everything from fine dining to street food in Lima feels inspired by hundreds of years of practice. And the food is really, really good.
Maybe there will be a day when we come back for upscale eating, but this trip was more about exploring the street food in Lima. So, we joined up with our most-loved city tour operator, Urban Adventures, for their Night Bites & Sights street food tour of Lima ($68). They showed us around tried-and-true Lima establishments and secret spots for the best street food. We consider ourselves pretty adventurous eaters, but maybe we just need an extra push to order the skewered beef heart.
Food Tour in Lima with Urban Adventures
While Miraflores and Barranco are the better-known tourist districts, we met up with our local guide in the historic downtown neighborhood just as the sun was going down and the grills were heating up. No street food tour would be complete without a drink or two, so they got us warmed up with a pisco sour from the Bar Cardano, an Italian owned bar opened in 1905. It is said that food was one of the ways Italian immigrants were able to integrate themselves into Peruvian society. I guess you’ve gotta love the guy who makes a good sandwich! While we didn’t order one, they’re supposed to have some of the best butifarras in town.
Next, we headed over to Doña Mamita to experience a bit of African influence on Peruvian cuisine. We dined on plates of anticuchos, moyeja, and modongo (grilled heart, gizzard, and tripe) served alongside choclo (Peruvian corn) and all kinds of sauces. I’ve pretty successfully avoided eating stomach up to this point, but I’ve got to admit — I didn’t hate it! Just outside of Doña Mamita was the lively food market at Chabuca Granda Boulevard. The vendors wore [very cute] red and white polka dot uniforms under striped tents. The locals were out in droves dining at their favorite stalls and singing some pretty ridiculous karaoke. If there was ever a local place to grab a snack, this would be it. Here, we picked up some picarones (sweet potato donuts) and mazamorra morada (rice pudding with black corn syrup) to share, but just about everything smelled incredible.
The final stop of the night was at Queirolo, an iconic Limeño bar that was cracking even on a Wednesday. The bar had a super old school feel, with one guy counting money at the back table mafioso style. The no-nonsense waiter took our orders, and we tried other classic drinks like chilcano (pisco with ginger) and of course, Cusqueña (the local beer). Our neighbors ordered up an entire bottle of pisco to share between the two of them, which I have to guess led to a rough morning.
We made our way back to Barranco on a very crowded local bus, full and a little buzzed from our outing with Urban Adventures Lima.
Our Opinion on the Lima Nights Bites & Sights Food Tour: We love Urban Adventures for their local experiences, consistently down-to-earth guides, and small group size. The Urban Adventures street food tour in Lima was a solid way to get into classic establishments and experience heritage dishes that we wouldn’t have thought to try on our own. It included a few more drinks and a bit less food than we anticipated, but we’d never complain about that! This tour would be perfectly supplemented by Urban Adventure’s Home Cooked cooking class in Lima so that you can also experience some more famed Peruvian food like ceviche and causa.
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SimonDecember 30, 2016 at 12:43 am
Whoa, team! This is awesome! Amazing shots, and delicious looking food. Adding Lima to my list!
Thanks for sharing.
Taylor RecordDecember 30, 2016 at 7:37 pm
Thanks, Simon! Lima is awfully underrated, if you ask us! Hope you get to go. The butifarra will be waiting!
Divya: Gone With a WhimMarch 2, 2018 at 12:56 am
I’m a vegetarian but I’m so intrigued by some of the food and drinks spots you guys hit up. Your writing and photos transported me to Lima and its markets 🙂 Great post, came here through Pinterest, following y’al now 🙂
Taylor RecordMarch 2, 2018 at 1:42 pm
Thanks for the compliment, Divya! Do you have a trip planned for Lima? I didn’t think too much about vegetarian options, but there are at least plenty of delicious desserts to choose from 🙂