The first time I read about Lima was when KP sent me a link to Song of the Road’s blog. This must have been 5 years ago now, and this was before we had ever even considered we might undertake a trip of our own. KP must have had an inkling though, because he would send me blogs he thought I’d find interesting to soften me up to the idea of our own adventure, and eventually after the release of Drive Nacho Drive’s second book, I had read enough to think it was doable. I vividly remember reading this blog post and seeing the pictures of Paracas National Park, but it was the pictures of amazing plates of gorgeous sushi and descriptions of incredible meals enjoyed for prices a third of what we’d pay at home that really convinced me Lima was a city I wanted to visit!!
We booked our stay at Hitchhikers hostel because of their amazing location in the heart of the Miraflores district (read, fancy restaurant and nice cars), the fact they had a parking area we could camp in, and their price tag at just over $10 a night. A couple weeks prior to our stay we had compared notes with Nick and Megan (The Long Cruise) and picked out what restaurants we just HAD to go to and a cooking class where we could learn to make Ceviche and Pisco Sours. Our schedule of amazing restaurants and experiences left us with little to no time for sightseeing, so we decided to get to the city a day early in order to have a little more exploring time (and eating time!).
After fighting the INSANE traffic in Lima for an hour and a half, we reached Hitchhikers and were so happy to see the gate and get off the road. We got out of the truck and were immediately stopped by a nice young man and his mom taking a stroll by. They asked about our truck, which led to a conversation on our trip and the appointment of Manuel as our “Personal Peruvian Tour Guide!” He told us all the best restaurants to visit in Lima in every variety of food, and helped us with some information for the rest of our trip through Southern Peru. As we separated, he handed us his card instructing us to contact him for anything we may need while in Lima. Turns out he was a restaurant investor in Lima, so we realized we had an expert Lima guide!!
The first night was sunset and burgers at an awesome place that reminded us of an upscale Applebees, but the atmosphere was a welcome sight for someone who hadn’t seen America in 6 months. A stop for another round of drinks and a nice walk home through the city and our first day was successfully complete. The next day we went to the Plaza de Armas – in Peru, all the main central squares of a town hold this title – where we arrived to find a flurry of activity at the Presidential Palace. Only a couple weeks before the current President had resigned giving power to his Vice President. What we were witnessing was the appointment of the all new Cabinet, complete with full press coverage and fanfare. A visit to the nearby Iglesia San Francisco and the bones of more than 26,000 people found in the catacombs underneath and we were ready to head back to our little neighborhood for another night of food and bar hopping! (Sorry no pictures allowed in the Catacombs or the beautiful church). That night we had an amazing array of fresh and delicious sushi (also recommended by our guide Manuel) and washed it down with some Sake Sours.
KP requested we take a cooking class while in Lima, so we went off the recommendation of Megan and Nick and went to Yummy Peru for an awesome three hour intro to Peruvian cuisine. We learned the proper way to make a Pisco Sour, prepared an amazing fresh ceviche, and then had an awesome Peruvian meat stew called Huatia. We topped it off with a really nice Mango Popsicle and then rolled our way back home to recover before another amazing dinner that night. I picked Malabar for its focus on traditional Peruvian cuisine and it’s ranking as #30 on the list of best restaurants in Latin America (a very large and increasingly exclusive list). We had a lovely dinner of Roast Duck, homemade raviolis, and a bottle of Malbec.
At this point we were starting to get a little overwhelmed by all the amazing food and drinks we’d had in Lima, but we still had one more big stop on the list! Coming in at #7 on the list of the best in Latin America is Astrid y Gaston. Here’s the intro from their website that introduces them better than I can:
"Our story began in 1994. Upon finishing their culinary studies in Paris, Gastón Acurio and Astrid Gutsche founded their eponymous restaurant in a small house in the district of Miraflores. At first, the restaurant was quite French, as it was dictated by the global trend. Over time, it became decidedly Peruvian. We embraced our culture and flavors, experimenting with local ingredients and recipes with one goal in mind, to promote our cuisine around the world."
We took on the challenge of their 15-course tasting menu along with wine pairings and every dish was unique, gorgeous, and delicious! We had clear favorites - for me the guinea pig in a black pepper crepe, for KP it was a creamy soup with a poached egg on top – but the whole experience was so special and a true once in a lifetime treat… or so I thought, but more on that next week…
After our lunch, we had a few hours of recovery down time and then it was time for me to head to the airport to catch my flight home for a visit! My amazing mom had bought me a ticket to fly home for a visit and to see Hamilton with her on my birthday, an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up, so next week KP will fill you in on his adventures as I’m home, and I’ll fill you in on what I’ve been up to. It’s time for a little his and hers blog (in the style of our Autozone blog if you remember that one).