So far I have not done many posts on dining, and the few I have done have mainly been general in nature so I was thinking that it is probably about time to offer some blogs with more specific dining options. We often times we take guests to some of our favorite dining locations when in Cusco, both local and touristic, so this will be the first of two blogs that will concentrate on dining in Cusco, this first one will be on local dining options and and will offer specific places to go to, for trying some of our favorite meals.
There are a wide variety of options for dining here in the Cusco Region, you can choose from gourmet, fusion, local and even several chain restaurants like Mc Donalds. With a few exceptions we generally prefer to dine at local establishments, as this is where you get a true feel for local life and these places tend to offer some of the best values as well.
When dining local here in Cusco there is one thing that should be considered, and something that often times stops tourists from trying these truly authentic eateries, that is how the food is prepared and handled, choosing the wrong location could easily result in the loss of a few days vacation due to stomach issues. To help out my readers I have assembled this list of local dining options, these are some of our favorite local places for a variety of typical Peruvian cuisines, and we not only visit them often, but we also have taken many of our guests to them and to this date, no one has gotten sick, so check them out if you are interested in sampling some local dining while visiting Cusco.
To make these locations as easy to find as possible I have included the address if available, street name and a photo of the store front.
Gustos Y Sabores – Av. Tullumayo (about 870)
This is what would be called a menu restaurant, what this mean here is that the restaurant has a menu of the day that is set, and currently at Gustos Y Sabores you can get an appetizer, a soup, a main dish and a drink for S/9.00 Soles (about $3.00 USD). With this menu of the day the appetizer, soup and drink are normally set and they generally have 3 to 4 choices for a main course, which usually include a beef, chicken and fish option. Generally the best time to arrive is between about 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm, if you arrive much later you will find that the main coarse selections may be limited.
El Dragon del Marquez – Calle Marquez
This is one of our favorite chifa restaurants, I know why come to Peru to have Chinese food? Well chifa is a Peruvian version of Chinese food and is considered to be Peruvian cuisine. According to some reading I have don the term chifa likely comes from a Chinese word “chiha” which if I remember correctly means something like “eat” or “good”, as this is what the early restaurant owners would call out to passers by, the locals interpreted it as chifa and associated it with this type of cuisine.
Chicharroneria Delicias – San Andres #470
Fried Pork, how can you go wrong here? Chicharron is another typical local food and is common everywhere, especially at the Sunday Markets, and our choice for the best chicharroneria in Cusco is “Chicharroneria Delicias. A plate of chicharron here will cost you S/12.00 Soles (about $3.50 USD) and comes with fried potatoes, mote (a type of corn) and some thinly sliced onions with some mint leaves added, a real treat for true pork lovers.
Los Angeles – Calle Santa Clara
and Grimaldos Chicken – Calle Santa Clara #315
Both of these restaurants offer pollo a la brasa which is rotisserie chicken, and another typical dish. I have listed two locations here as they are both equally good and actually just a few doors apart, so when we are in the area of the Plaza San Francisco and want pollo a la brassa, we tend to just choose the lest busy location at the time. As with many local dining options you will find this to be another economical meal with an 1/8th of a chicken, french fries and Soup or Salad (sometimes both) running you right around S/7.00 Soles (about $2.00 USD)
de fruta Madre – Calle Santa Clara
If you are looking for something light, or maybe just a sandwich then this might be a good place to stop in, it is a little more touristy, but someplace that I would still consider a local establishment. De fruta Madre offers a wide variety of fruit smoothies, empinadas (bread pockets filled with meats or cheese), sandwiches (I would recommend the Butifara), and other light options.
San Pedro Market (Mercado Central de San Pedro) – Calle Santa Clara & Cascaparo
My next two locations can both be found in the San Pedro market which is a place many tourists visit, but not many will actually eat here, and unless you have a guide with you (or the information below), eating here can be a gamble. No need to worry about my choices though, we have eaten at both on many occasions, both alone and with guests, and to date, no one has suffered any ill effects.
Mama Naty’s – San Pedro market
Another menu of the day type restaurant, a bit more local than Gustos Y Sabores, but maybe a slightly better value, you will find that Mama Naty tends to serve truck driver size portions, so unless you are really hungry, my recommendation would be to split a plate between 2 people, odds are good that you will still get full even sharing.
Elvira’s Picarones – San Pedro market
This is not actually an establishment, or even a stall. Elvira serves her picarones up from a small cart that is located in the middle of an isle. Now you are probably wondering what picarones are, well the short answer would be they are little fried rings of heaven, but the more correct description is that picarones are like doughnuts, but are made from pumpkin and sweet potato and served with a home made syrup poured over them. Warning! Doughnuts may never be the same after trying picarones.
Kanka Mirador & Restaurante – Av. Argentina Mza A Lote 11
This restaurant is one of the nicest and most expensive of my local dining choices, and actually qualifies as a tourist restaurant in my opinion, but the fact that tourists almost never go here though (unless they are with us) makes it easy to consider Kanka, a local establishment. Kanka serves a wide variety of typical dishes, but done to a gourmet level, and the average price on the menu is only about S/25.00 Soles (about $7.15 USD). One of the big pluses for tourists is that if you are interested in trying the typical Andean dish of cuy (guinea pig), this is the perfect place as their Kanka Special (Especial de Kanka) has ¼ of a cuy, a piece of Lechon, baked pasta, and a stuffed hot pepper, all for S/40.00 Soles (about $11.50 USD), and considering a cuy meal close to the main plaza will run you from S/60.00 to over S/100.00 Soles, the Kanka Special is a bargain.
Anticuchos – Av El Sol & 3S
One final option before I close this out, is a very typical street food called anticuchos, Anticuchos are basically like shish kabob, without the vegetables and so it is really just meat on a stick. While I do not know the name of the lady, you will find the best anticuchos in Cusco on the corner by Qorikancha in the evenings, I believe she sets up around 6pm. Anticuchos are a very typical Peruvian street food and sellers can often times be found around major bus stops in the evenings. Choices usually include beef, chicken, hot dogs, or sausages, but for a real authentic choice, try the beef heart (corizon), and don’t forget to add a little of the green hot sauce.
Well that wraps up this post and I hope you find it useful if interested in doing some local dining while in Cusco, and if you like this post and are planning a visit, follow my page as I will be following this blog up with a blog on more touristy dining options in Cusco.
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