Although Peru is quite famous for its incredible mountains and its historic ruins like Machu Picchu, there’s a lot more to this country than that. One of the fascinating things about Peru is its food scene, which boasts a variety of ingredients and flavors, some of which can only be found here. Read on to learn more about some of the most delicious typical foods to try in Peru.
1. Lomo Saltado
Lomo saltado is one of Peru’s signature dishes, featuring beef sauteed with soy sauce, cooking wine, and various other ingredients. If you’re not a red meat eater, don’t fret! There are also varieties that include chicken, fish, and shrimp as well.
2. Rocoto Relleno
A rocoto is a type of Peruvian pepper that is typically served stuffed with vegetables and beef, alongside rice and a small salad. It may look cute and unassuming, but his small, stuffed red pepper isn’t for the faint of heart. It really brings on the heat!
3. Papas a la Huancaina
If you spend enough time in Peru, you’ll notice that potatoes are a way of life here. Papas a la Huancaina are a popular dish, with potatoes served in a spicy, cheese-based sauce. Although they’re definitely rich, the papas a la huancaina are also quite delicious.
4. Anticuchos de Corazón
Sold primarily in ‘brasa’ restaurants or in street stalls, anticuchos de corazón – skewered beef hearts – are definitely different than the average meat fare in other areas of the world. However, these are a popular food item for locals, and typically aren’t too expensive. If you’re looking for a meat-heavy local dish, this is one you should try.
Ceviche is another one of Peru’s staple dishes. Most commonly served in the coastal regions, this seafood dish features fish, octopus, shrimp, or other seafood marinated in lime juice. Although there are different varieties, be ready for a kick of lime in any ceviche variation. Ceviche tops any list of foods to try in Peru, so be sure to give it a try!
6. Aji de Gallina
This chicken dish is served with a thick yellow sauce made of local bell peppers. Served with rice and potatoes, aji de gallina is a go-to dish at virtually any Peruvian restaurant. Definitely worth a try while you’re visiting Peru!
7. Cuy del Horno
You’ve probably heard rumblings of this one, but cuy (roasted guinea pig) is one of Peru’s most infamous delicacies, and one locals absolutely love. Most popular in the Cusco region of Peru, this dish often comes roasted with the entire body – head included – still intact. Try it if you dare.
One of the staples of the Peruvian diet is corn, and canchita is a common snack you can buy at street stalls or eat on the side of a main course at a restaurant. Quite similar to popcorn, canchita is basically toasted corn that hasn’t quite burst open yet. The result? A crunchy, kernel-less treat that tastes just like the buttery, salty goodness of movie theater popcorn. Win-win.
You may see “Museos de Chocolate” in crowded tourist areas, and while these particular shops are geared to tourists, their premise has a lot of truth. Peru is one of a handful of places in the world where cacao beans grow, and therefore their chocolate is incredibly delicious. For a true Peruvian twist, try it in liquid form with some chili powder mixed in.
10. Queso Helado
If you directly translate this, it means “iced cheese,” which sounds kind of strange. However, if you think of these as cheesecake-flavored ice cream cubes, it becomes so much more enticing. Originally hailing from Arequipa, this sweet dish is a delicious treat for a hot afternoon or alongside a cup of joe.
Peru is one of the most famous areas in the world for coffee production, and it shows in its incredible selection of brews. Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, it’s worth giving it a try here. Bonus points if you can try the coffee at a farm where they grow the beans. So fresh!
12. Muña Tea
Muña is a type of herb grown in the mountainous regions of Peru, which locals steep in hot water and drink as a tea. With a taste somewhat like mint, it has a very pleasant and mild flavor, great for relaxing after a long day of hiking or warming up after being in the cold of the snow-capped mountains.
13. Inca Kola
Although this isn’t really “made” by Peruvians, Inka Cola is a popular drink that I’ve only ever seen in mass amounts while visiting there. Originally from Peru, it’s a yellow soda that tastes like pure sugar…try at your own risk.
14. Chicha Morada
As a sweet, non-alcoholic purple drink, chicha morada is a popular drink choice for local Peruvians. Made of purple corn mulled in cloves, fruits, and other spices, it has a unique and delicious flavor. Although it’s quite sweet, chicha morada is one of my favorite drinks!
15. Pisco Sour
No “foods to try in Peru” list would be complete without the popular pisco sour. Made with Peruvian pisco, egg white, and lime juice, it’s a strange combination of flavors/textures that just so happens to work really well. Be careful – this one packs a strong punch! If you’re looking for a refreshing drink to try with your dinner, the pisco sour can’t be missed.
* * *
Did we miss anything? Which one of these is your favorite? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments!