©Portrait Sandra Elias
Lima, a City Tasting Tour with Chef Rafael Osterling
Food is an important part of everyday life in Lima, and the gastronomic boom witnessed in the past 10 years across Peru, especially in Lima, has laid way for a variety of restaurants offering a real mix of tasty cuisines.
From the Nikkei at Maido to a secret Butcher’s Table dinner at Osso, amazing tasting menus at Gaston Acurio's new Astrid Y Gaston restaurant and the high altitude dining experience of Virgilio Martinez at Central - the mix of foods, right from the top end - mentioned above, down to street shacks and local taverns - is one of the most vibrant mixes of cuisine, colour and culture anywhere in the world.
With the Latin America’s best chefs currently in Lima for the announcement of Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants List - we decided to get off the fine dining track with local chef Rafael Osterling who owns the Rafael (13th on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurant List 2013) and El Mercado restaurants in Lima.
Working in the energetic city for many years, Osterling has an extensive knowledge of the area and was kind enough to share some insight on some of the top places to enjoy a local bite in Lima.
“It’s a very nice place, quite small in a rough area. Picantere is the name of the houses that serve Chicahora in the Andrean part - an alcohol drink made of fermented corn. So they serve this Chica with a few tradition dishes of the family and there is no sign outside the restaurant, just a flag outside, this red flag.
They sell lots of fish dishes and the nice thing about this place is that they’ll serve you the whole fish and you can say i’ll take some of it fried, some roasted - it’s a really nice concept. The owner also has a restaurant called Fiesta where they serve traditional North Peruvian home cooking.”
ONE DISH WONDER
“This place is really cool because they make just one dish again. You have this really nice, fat, grumpy guy cooking and the tables are around him. They just make one dish a day so it’s got to be good. The favourite, classic one is a roast rabbit with cinnamon and orange - it’s very cool.”
FINGER LICKING LIMA
“This is a very small cantina but they have this one dish that is totally amazing. This small dish of crab chowder, it’s beautiful, you’re constantly sat there licking your fingers with a big beer. Amazing.”
HOME FROM HOME
“It’s a frame of mind - it’s quite an old place, probably about 25 years. It was opened by an Argentinean immigrant and now it;s run by his son. The place is really homely, a nice bar with food. People just want to have a nice relaxed time and to taste great food.”