Open for less than seven months, Central is one of the newest entrants onto Lima’s high-end restaurant scene. Located on a quiet street in the upscale Miraflores neighborhood near Larcomar Mall, locals are loving it for their pisco sours with black pepper-infused pisco, star anise and cinnamon. Baby-faced Chef Virgilio Martinez is just 32 years old, but he’s already been working in restaurants for 15 years in such far-flung places as Paris, Madrid, New York, Colombia and Singapore, and that breadth of experience shows in his eclectic menu.
Perfectly plump grouper comes laden with rich seafood broth and Amazonian cocona fruit along with aji sashimi with yellow chili pepper-avocado dressing and charcoal croutons. There’s lamb cannelloni on the menu with artichoke cream, pistachios and capers, as well as suckling pig confit with Parma ham and native potatoes in a huacatay herb emulsion. Calle Santa Isabel 376; Miraflores, Lima; +51 (0)1 2428575
You can’t talk about Peruvian cuisine without mentioning two things: ceviche and Gastón Acurio. The first is the quintessential Peruvian dish of raw seafood cooked in citrus juices with an array of fresh veggies and native corn. The second is the man who put Peruvian cuisine on the map in the first place. With over 32 restaurants in his empire and a Bible-sized cookbook to his name, Gastón Acurio is the last word in Peruvian cooking, and La Mar is his ode to the bountiful seafood of his native land. It’s clear just how much he loves it from the fact that his menu has nine different kinds of ceviches alone, including one with seafood and trout in a creamy green pepper seafood broth. There are also tons of sushi rolls like the crunchy crocante with lobster, crab, avocado, cream cheese and sweet sauce in a tempura seaweed wrap. This place is always packed, so be sure to call ahead for a reservation. Avenida La Mar 770; Miraflores, Lima; +51 (0)1 421 3365
Just in case…
We also wanted to mention two other worthy runner-up restaurants for this list. Picas is more of a bar-lounge in the hopping, bohemian Barranco near the Bridge of Sighs, but you can get simple dishes like tuna Niçoise, pasta or steak and potatoes to enjoy alongside tropical fruit pisco sours and while you watch the well-heeled weekend crowd of young professionals and artists mingle in the main bar and front patio.
We know that Lima is the land of seafood, but sometimes we get a hankering for a steak, so our friends let us know about Al Asador in the tony San Borja neighborhood. Apparently the steak there is good enough to turn a vegetarian into a red meat-eater for life.
[All photos: Eric Rosen for Jaunted]
Disclosure: Eric Rosen traveled to Lima as a guest of PromPeru, but all opinions expressed are his own.