Siam. J Calama E5-10. Quito

This place does sushi as well as Thai dishes, and most of it is reasonably priced. Though it has had some bad reviews, and it seems its special offers and attitude have been inconsistent, we found no fault on our Maundy Thursday visit. We tried the spicy tuna rolls, two huge constructions that resembled handrolls. The chunks of tuna were strangely shaped, neither flakes nor of a mashed texture, but were well dressed in an ají-style mayo in a nigiri wrap.
The Pad Thai was a good version of one of my favourite dishes, packed full of small prawns, but the vegetable curry was a little disappointing. Service is good and the ambience is fine on a busy night. A free soft drink comes with every main, and their Chicha is worth ordering.

$$

Chandani Tandoori. Juan Leon Mera, Mariscal, Quito

We ate here twice in the same week, and I would definitely recommend a takeaway rather than sitting in its basic greasy-spoon space which only has any atmosphere when there are more than a dozen diners present. Service can be lacklustre, but prices are certainly good: $3.50 for starter portions of veggie dishes and $5-$8 for mains, the prawn curries being the priciest. Their channa masala was good, palak paneer – though lacking proper chunks of paneer – fiery and tasty, and the tarka daal surprisingly complex and hearty. The butter chicken was also excellent, and a lot of effort had gone into the pilau rice. The naan was disappointing as it resembled nothing fluffy and light, but was made from a wholemeal flour and so could have been more accurately described as a paratha. The owners are Pakistani, so it is surprising that there are no lamb or gosht dishes offered, but they do mainstream Indian cuisine very competently.

$

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Chicha. Heladeros 261. Cusco.

This is the only branch of Gaston Acurio’s restaurant empire that specialises in Andean cuisine, different to T’anta’s ‘NovoAndina’ dishes, the expression of Lima’s Criollo food culture.
We tried the Kapchi de Setas y Habas (S/.30) which was a hearty, though slightly bland, creamy stew of beans and thick sauce. The breads served with ají were excellent, as were the cocktails: a refreshing De Rompe y Raja and a creamy one that would have been best accompanied by a sweet teatime pastry.
The other table’s suckling pig looked very tasty, and given another chance I’d have ordered that instead. La Alta kept me on the vegetarian tip that evening though.
However, it was the dessert we shared that impressed us the most: Ravioles Crocantes de Aguaymanto, small parcels of the jungle fruit (served with a delightful cinnamon ice cream) which crunched and crackled and was enhanced by sticky textures and surprising flavours.
ChiCha is not cheap, but is definitely a great opportunity to escape the mass of touristy restaurants in central Cusco. The beautiful dark-wood dining room is bookended by a classy bar and an open kitchen. Service is very friendly and helpful, the atmosphere laid-back and unpretentious, and the food unlike anywhere else in the world.

$$$

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Papacho’s. Avenida La Paz 1045, Miraflores. Lima

This is a Gastón Acurio restaurant, so these are the gourmet burgers of the city. We were impressed by the quality of the meat, the veggie options (six in total! Six! Including lentil and chickpea patties) and the decor. The prices and service need a little improvement, though. Paying $10 for a veggie burger and $12 for a beef variety seems a little bit high, and I was expecting there to be about 20% more meat between the bun. The bread is average, but the varieties of toppings and sauces are dizzying. Onion rings were good – though maybe not crunchy enough -and sweet potato fries were almost perfectly cut and cooked. Well-heeled families come here on Sundays while Miraflores residents, businessmen and foreigners make it here at all other times. Look no further for the best burgers in town, though my pocket would be more suited to the surprisingly good burger a la pobre – for a third of the price – at Lima Cricket and Football Club.

$$$

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ámaZ. Av.La Paz 1079, Miraflores. Lima

Featured on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown series, ámaZ is a stunning space with a truly unique menu: jungle food as haute cuisine. There are such a huge variety of fruits, roots and vegetables in the Amazon that are underused, and sometimes unknown, especially in the big cities; ámaZ is there to promote these Peruvian gems of the jungle and make a lot of money along the way. Located in a small block of expensive restaurants, its decor is well-executed, with mixes of dark and light wood, canopies of large leaves and ceilings of densely arranged stakes and spikes. Service is prompt, helpful and informative, and they even have a menu on a tablet that allows you to flip through beautiful pictures of the dishes. This helped us a lot; we ordered the Conchas canga con camu camu, huge scallops with a sweet-sour sauce ($15), Patarashca de dorado, a large portion of rich river fish cooked in bamboo leaf ($18) and Moqueca de camaron tarapotino, a coconut-milk Thai-style prawn curry with rice ($17). All impressed to an extent, but none of them popped or fizzed. The cocktails were like loaded pulp juices, slow movers that worked their inebriation stealthily.

$$$$

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Cónchale. Av.Cesar Canevaro, Lince. Lima

This place boasts the highest quality set lunch at the lowest price: a jaw-droppingly cheap $2.50 for two courses and a tiny dessert. They have pricier options too, from the ‘achorado’ combo ($12.50) to the ‘abusivo’ ($22) that looks like it could feed a very hungry family with beer needs; portions are large, in general. The fish is merely good but the beef is wonderfully cooked, while the soups and rice choices are average. A glass of jungle-fruit juice – for I will never ever remember the names of the numerous exotic varieties of edible tree-decorations – is included. The first time we went we had a refreshing mandarin jelly for dessert, the second time we were offered a gloopy , so I wouldn’t necessarily save space for dessert.
$

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Tarboush. Av. Diagonal 358, Miraflores. Lima

A very friendly and noisy little cafe facing Parque Kennedy, Tarboush has decent, affordable Shawarmas ($3 for a delicious lamb one) and Falafel wraps ($2.50). There are larger plates of rice and salads if you’ve got the appetite. Coffee is average, music is loud and the terrace is the place to be, perfect for watching the Miraflores crowds bustle by. Francisco the waiter is a jolly, energetic fella and will help you with your choices.

$

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