One of the best carrot cakes I’ve ever had and a very smooth cappuccino in the courtyard of the Asociacion Mario Testino photography gallery was a good choice for a cool, lazy Sunday. The gallery itself is a shallow exercise in celebrity snaps and loud colours, and even though the good at the cafe is a little overpriced, service is very friendly and quality is extremely high.
We tried the Pear and Gorgonzola pizza here, along with a Maracuya sour and a Canela sour. Everything was delicious, and salads look reassuringly large with grand chunks of meat served separately to add as you see fit. Service was a little slow on the Saturday evening we went, but they do seem to care. Prices are high, but this is a fairly upmarket Italian joint in Miraflores after all.
This wine bar is open until 3am, and it gets pretty busy on weekends with thirty- and forty-somethings. The choice of glasses and bottles is fairly good, but prices are predictably quite high for certain European choices. Our glasses of Chilean red and Argentinian Santa Ana white were $7 each. Sherry, Lambrusco and champagne (from $80) are also available. Small pieces of soft bread are served with mini-syringes filled with olive oil. It’s a nice gimmick, but quite fiddly.
The manzana y cabra montaditos (apple and goats cheese with cinnamon sauce canapés) we ordered were sweet and very moreish. Music is very varied, ranging from chanson to soft electronic.
Perfect happy hour here until 11pm: two for one on chilcanos or pisco sours (normally $6 each). We loved their tortilla española with its thin potato layers and near-caramelized crust, a real winner in this city. The ground floor remains fairly quiet while the roof terrace is busy enough to keep the sole waiter very active. Good low lighting upstairs, especially near the bright shelves of old corn-presses and kitchen contraptions; downstairs is quite bright, and the walls are very busy, but there is a charming little back room offering limited privacy that can fit 6-8 people comfortably. In short, great decor and vibe coupled with rock-bottom prices for this part of town.
With its exposed brickwork and airducts, pipes and retro vending machines, this could easily be a Brooklyn, Shoreditch or Soho establishment. In fact, the only Peruvian aspect of this place is the pisco on the menu and emphasis on jungle fruits and Novo Andino ingredients. The wine list is well balanced, the bar snacks are very good -especially the pulpo and the pizza – and the drinks are quite unique: sceptics might want to try the frozen mojito or frozen pisco sour to taste a new spin on a well-loved classic. The canela sour ($8) is one of the best drinks I’ve tasted in the city, with its smooth finish and fresh spice jab.
Factoria is a converted garage, and the theme is revived in the mechanic-style shirts worn by staff, logo and oversized photo prints of the premise’s former grease-hands, and random jerry cans of motor oil placed on drink shelves. It’s hip and classy at the same time, exuding fun but ultimately lacking in local flavour. A pricey night out too, so drink sensibly.
An excellent curry house in Surco, Guru opens early, so get there by 7pm if you want a table as we hear it can get packed on weekends. The menu is comprehensive, and their Goan green fish curry is particularly cocunutty and spicy, such a delight in a city that still doesn’t have more than a couple of Thai joints. The starter we had – and which I wished we’d ordered more of – was fantastic: aloo tikki with a tiny accompaniment of channa masala, fried and crispy on the outside and spongy inside. Other mains were reliable and varied, the shrimp masala especially memorable. Rice and naan were good, and service was friendly and efficient.
Undoubtedly the most famous (affordable) restaurant in Lima, Tanta now has a few branches around the city, but I really didn’t feel the compulsion to go to the one in a swanky mall, so this older, breezier one in San Isidro seemed like a good choice, and very popular it seems: it reached full capacity at the drop of a hat, at approximately 1pm. Service is still fast, and very helpful – the staff know the menu well, and will describe and recommend anything you’re unsure about. We had the Tamal Limeño ($3), perfectly textured with a punchy aji sauce; Wantanes Pulperos ($9), fried octopus wontons which were crispy and citrusy, and the Chijau Kay Marinero which describes itself as catch of the day filled with lobster and served with an ‘airport chaufa’ (wok-fried rice), and I would describe as muy rico.
The crowd here is actually quite varied, with office workers mingling with Euro-blooded specimens, ladies-who-lunch jostling with well-groomed teens and twentysomethings. The cocktails are definitely worth ordering, with their list of jungle fruit mixes and frothy Piscos. Next time, we’ll tarry a bit longer and try a dessert from the trolley. And another cocktail.