With its exotic ingredients and colorful mix of influences — Inca, Spanish and Japanese to name but three — Peruvian cuisine has become a global phenomenon. Gastón Acurio opened the first Astrid y Gastón in 1994, and in the intervening years it has become a restaurant franchise throughout South America and Europe. And Virgilio Martínez Véliz, the owner and chef of Central, now has two restaurants in London, one of which was awarded a Michelin star in 2014, plus a third outpost, in Dubai.
Acurio has returned to the kitchen in Lima, where his famous flagship restaurant is now housed within a splendid 17th-century hacienda. He currently offers two tasting menus, both of which pay homage to Lima and its gastronomic and cultural mosaic. Expect dishes such as Paracas scallops with lucuma (subtropical Andean fruit) gnocchi, “Amazonic” sauce and chestnuts; and suckling pig confit with carapulcra (pork and potato stew), cacao and peanuts. Reservations should be made well in advance.
Astrid y Gastón
Avenida Paz Soldán 290, San Isidro. Tel. (51) 1-442-2777
Central has been named the best restaurant in Latin America for the past three years. Martínez is known for his use of unique ingredients, such as a potato grown at 16,500 feet above sea level (the tasting menu gives the elevation at which the different ingredients are cultivated); cushuro, an edible cyanobacteria harvested in high-altitude wetlands; and wild varieties of quinoa. Look for dishes such as Amazonian catfish with Bahuaja nut, pijuayo (palm nut) and huito (a rainforest fruit); and Andean beef with quinoas and airampo (prickly pear). You may also wish to try Solar Mucilage, a sweet water made from the white pulp covering Peruvian cacao beans. Here, too, reservations are hard to come by.
Calle Santa Isabel 376, Miraflores. Tel. (51) 1-241-6721