International Photo Credit: Mariano Mantel

Will Travel for Food: Lima, Peru

The capital of Peru makes its case for the foodiest city on the planet.

It would be misleading to say I travelled to Lima for the food. I was already hiking and biking in Peru’s Sacred Valley, so while I did technically “travel to Lima to eat,” in reality that meant booking myself a 24-hour layover on my way back to Canada. The goal? Eat at three of the best restaurants in the world (according to the San Pellegrino 50 Best List).

Maido

The plan was simple: grab an Uber from the airport and head directly to the #8 restaurant in the world, the Peruvian-Japanese hybrid Maido, for their last seating of the night, then find a hotel, sleep, wake up in time to have lunch at Central (#5, but #4 when I visited last year), kill a few hours wandering around town before dinner at Astrid y Gaston (#33, but #30 when I was there) and then back to the airport for the red-eye back to Canada.

Even writing all these months later it sounds romantic, but the truth is I hate eating by myself so I approached the dine-athon with more trepidation than delight. Also, as I rolled into Maido, fresh off a long drive and a bumpy flight from Cuzco, all I wanted was a beer (well, a few beers) so the idea of sitting at the tasting bar, solo, just made me sad. Luckily my Eeyore routine was foiled by the fella next to me, a Peruvian filmmaker there with his girlfriend, who tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I had ever tried cuy (a.k.a. guinea pig), and when I said no, he more or less jammed a cuy dumpling in my mouth, laughed “now you have,” and we proceeded to get along like an Incan temple on fire for the next few hours. The food was sublime.

Astrid y Gaston
Astrid y Gaston

The next day’s pilgrimage to Central was a much more sombre affair. Unlike the mix of locals at Maido, the beautifully minimal room at Central was all serious food tourists and the place had the tenor of a cathedral on Ash Wednesday. Being solo wasn’t the curse I thought because the general reverie kept jibber jabber at a minimum. So I sat in a monastic silence while dishes—16 of them—appeared and were introduced by Virgilio Martinez, the matinee-idol handsome mastermind behind the spot. The lunch took three hours and I literally staggered out into the midday sun, gleefully stuffed to the gills with the knowledge that, given the length of my lunch, my next tasting menu started in too-soon-to-contemplate four hours. I tried to walk some space into my stomach but early on into my meal at Astrid y Gaston I was in serious no mas territory. I went outside and took some air. Twice. I ate half of the intricately crafted small plates and by the time I finished my last bite the victory was pyrrhic at best. The sleep on the flight home, however, was inescapably deep.

✈️ Vancouver to Lima

Distance: 8,165 km
Travel Time: 12 hrs, 56 mins


Check back for more from our Will Travel for Food feature to discover the lengths our food-obsessed writers will go for one perfect bite. 

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