It's not news anymore that Lima has taken a prominent place on the world food map. In fact, the rise of the lively Peruvian capital in the awards and lists represented, for the first time, a new gastronomy order, showcasing that its borders also had to include the Southern Hemisphere, to break once and for all its Eurocentric status.
For the past three years, there have always been two restaurants from Lima in the top 10 of The World's 50 Best Restaurants list, fighting for a new global balance in the fine dining scene. Lima has consolidated its spot and has consistently attracted the attention of many people from the food world, among them chefs and foodies, thanks to the work of many chefs as well as the Peruvian government — who has worked hard to promote the country food worldwide.
The 'good wave' is now a movement
But what could only be a "good wave” has consolidated as a movement in itself, which now enlists new cooks, making Lima's local food scene bolder and more invigorating than ever. “After a hiatus of about five years, young cooks have come up with diverse, modern concepts. They have opened many local restaurants with different approaches, both in food and in the atmosphere, which has brought a new face to the Lima restaurants market," says Jaime Pesaque, from Mayta restaurant.
Pesaque is a member of a generation that emerged following the path traced by Gaston Acurio, which includes other exponents of Peruvian gastronomy, such as Mitsuharu Tsumura with a nikkei approach and Virgilio Martinez with a cutting edge cuisine. “Gaston has done a brilliant job, which has propelled a whole new generation, and we all know that. Interestingly, this work that started more than 15 years ago continues to open doors for new chefs to showcase their work, perhaps more than ever,” he says.
According to Pesaque, there are many projects that have contributed to the local cuisine, with chefs who continue to bet on new concepts, showcasing the huge diversity of Peruvian cuisine. “And most importantly, always focusing on our local pantry,” he concludes.
Virgilio Martinez, chef of the acclaimed Central, in Lima, MIL, in Cuzco, and Lima, in London, adds that the fact of traditional places are still opening in the city is a proof that the movement that started with Gaston is still bearing fruits. “Cevicherias continue to open as well as taverns and this keeps the tradition in an accessible, fun and educational format”, he points out.
The rising stars
José del Castillo, the chef who runs restaurants like Isolina (#12 in the Latin America's 50 Best Restaurants list), La Red and the newly opened Las Reyes, believes that because of the numerous restaurant openings in Lima, it is not always easy for a cook to find his style. “I believe there are many new places at this stage that are trying to prove themselves, to find their own path” he says.
“But I have no doubt that the local scene has become more interesting for the emerging cooks, young people with many talents who have traveled and learned a lot abroad,” he points out. Del Castillo mentions cooks such as Ricardo Martins, Francesca Ferreyros, Fransua Robles, Jorge Muñoz and André Patsias as examples of a new generation of chefs who are transforming local cuisine.
The latter, for example, runs Statera, a restaurant that is about to reinvent itself: Patsias explains that after a month and a half of creativity, he is set to reopen the restaurant in February with a new concept, new menu, new dishware (made manually by the chef himself using only concrete).
Statera opened one year and a half ago, at the same time as other renowned restaurants in the city, such as Kjolle and Siete, further changing the local scene. "The cooks who came before me integrated Peruvian cuisine with fine dining, introduced the idea of the tasting menu to the local guests, created a radical change in our scene, bringing sensitivity, quality, diversity. As a member of a new generation, I feel that I also need to create a cutting edge experience to continue to value Peruvian cuisine," he adds.
Patsias believes that the biggest change brought by the projection of Peruvian cuisine was not just the quality of the food one can find in Lima today or the obvious improvement in the taste of local diners, but especially in the Peruvian pride. “We used to say more shyly that we were Peruvians when we were going to intern in a foreign kitchen. Today it is something we say with pride," he adds. Something that goes far beyond what is served on the table.
Fine Dining Lovers heard from Peruvian chefs to find out which new restaurants are worth a new visit to Lima besides well known award-winning fine-dining restaurants like Central, Maido and Astrid & Gastón — as if someone really needs more reasons to return to this beautiful city. Below, you can find the list.
“From 2020 on, we will be a restaurant that renews itself every year: we will spend just over a month doing everything from scratch. It is a conceptual but also a philosophical change," explains chef Andre Patsias about the new take of his restaurant located in Miraflores. By focusing on local and sustainable ingredients — such as pata de burro, the huge black clam he collects from the Tumbes mangroves, almost on the Ecuadorian border — Patsias, who worked in restaurants such as Noma and The Fat Duck, presents an elegant, vibrant and balanced cuisine with a crafty aesthetic take, bringing a beautiful plating for his dishes with a good balance of flavors and textures.
Av. Mariscal La Mar 463, Miraflores
Away from the sought-after neighborhoods where the most popular restaurants are located (such as Barranco and Miraflores), chef Fransua Robles features his lively, colorful cuisine focused on seafood and other local traditional ingredients. Tiraditos, ceviches, causas and other iconic Peruvian dishes are prepared with the best and freshest ingredients he receives every day in his kitchen.
Av. Húsares de Junin 651, Jesús María
Al Toke Pez
“Street food that's way more than that”, says chef Virgilio Martinez about this tiny single-counter venue in the Surquillo district, where chef Tomas Matsufuji serves no more than 10 guests with his well-prepared dishes like ceviche mixto and artisanal chicha morada (a traditional beverage made with purple corn and infused spices and fruits) to pair. Stuffy and crowded, it's one of the best places to eat authentic food at affordable prices — and witness that good Peruvian food also is present in more casual venues.
Al Toke Pez
Av. Angamos Este 886, Surquillo
It is a small restaurant run by two Central alumni in Barranco neighborhood, mixing progressive Peruvian and Venezuelan cuisine. The Venezuelan duo offers sophisticated dishes with mixed inspiration betting on the connection between the ingredients that prevail in both countries, in an urban, contemporary and modern take. “It's new luxury kitchen as we understand now, without so much 'special effects' and more authentic than ever,” says chef Virgilio Martinez.
28 de Julio 206, Barranco
Led by chef Pía León, who also run Central next to her husband Virgilio Martinez, Kjolle was Lima's most-anticipated 2018 opening. It's the chef's promised solo project, which offers her delicate and creative insight into the Peruvian ingredients that come to her kitchen through the efforts of Mater Iniciativa, the research center created by the couple (with Virgilio's sister, Malena) to supply both restaurants with local and sustainable products from all regions of the country.
Av. Pedro de Osma 30, Barranco
Tucked in Barranco neighborhood, Siete is “a very cozy restaurant, without much pretension or formalities, and with only good ingredients very well executed in dishes with great flavors,” sums up chef Jaime Pesaque. Chef Ricardo Martins serves Peruvian ingredients with a Mediterranean accent in minimal, light and beautiful creations. It’s a great place to sip a signature cocktails as well.
Jirón Domeyer 260, Barranco