Famous for serving anticuchos (skewered beef hearts), rachi (stomach lining), choncholí (intestines) as well as regular chicken breast, the Doña has a famous recipe to keep the lines long and the crowds coming. The secret is in the seasoning, an Afro-Peruvian garlic-pepper with ají panca. The portions are generous on flimsy plastic plates accompanied by soft potato sancochada and some cooked choclo(maize).
These traditionally undesirable internal organs and cuts were components of peasant and slave food, of course; local historians trace the anticuchos to the neighborhood surrounding the Acho bullring in Lima where animal organs were salvaged in a knacker’s yard like car parts. These streetside stalls are now famous stops on the gastro-tourist’s map, and even Anthony Bourdain made his way here a little while ago too.
Pay for your food opposite the large grill in the tiny cubby-office and give your ticket to the barbecue-queen; a couple of desserts are also available.
Other notable anticuchos spots:
Doña Pascuala: corner of calle Santa Rosa & Angamos, Surquillo.
Doña Delia: corner of calle Héctor Velarde & Juan Torciguera.
La tía Grimanesa: Junction of calles Enrique Palacios & 27 de Noviembre, Miraflores.
Absolutely excellent Indian food in a beautifully lit dining space run by Jay Patel, one of the only Gujaratis in the city. This is not a tribute to the menu of a typical British-Indian curry house, like Guru just down the road; dishes here are more varied than that. Prices are certainly high due to its unique position, but if you stick to the tasty vegetarian dishes and remember that portions are quite generous, you can keep that bill on the lower side of S/.80 per person.
For exquisite tapas and larger meals with a fine selection of tipples, Sophie Bistro is an atmospheric wine bar with its roots firmly in Spain. The music and lighting is just right, with friendly personal service and a huge menu spanning all types of Creole and Spanish favourites. Classy local clientele and a formidable chef make this a place to drop into if you need an intimate date night in Miraflores. Clink clink.
Formerly the Doceava, the Onceava is famous for its Creole/Cajun seafood, huge portions and great terrace atmosphere; it’s a special-occasion place for many, and a regular Sunday spot for the lucky few. The pasta, fish and shellfish dishes are all great, and the cabrito (goat) is fantastic. Atún Chinachola, tuna steaks with Asian pan-fried vegetables in a soya reduction (S/.55) was a notable winner, and the Conchas Negras was a cold citrus feast of clams. Service is quick and friendly, cocktails are punchy and live music is often a weekend feature.
The smaller, cheaper version of the famous Bolivar does a fantastic Pisco Sour Catedral, made with the excellent Ocucaje for S/.20; the regular version is half the price. Bolitas de yuca (S/.10) were very plain and uninspiring, with an insipid Huancaina sauce.
But what will really hit you as you walk in is the well-established stench of sweat: we reckon it’s all down to the forlorn overworked waiters. No music, nor much real ambience, but clean and functional and located slap-bang on the beautiful Plaza San Martin.
He’s here for a few hours most weekdays, and locally famous for a reason: this really is excellent ceviche, spiky and tangy, and great value. The S/.5 plate is loaded with pulpo and fish, some chicharrones, red onions and a bit of yuka. The secret to the taste, however, is in the leche de tigre, a spicy citrus marinade that you’ll want to bottle and take home; luckily it’s also available in a cup with a few morsels of fish for S/.3 for those on the move.
An unmissable experience at excellent value.
Lima needs more of these – just one Thai restaurant in such a gastronomic city means that this joint is constantly packed, and waiting an hour for a table is not uncommon. The decor is beautifully restrained: glowing orange fixtures over mahogany brown with a touch of bamboo’n’buddha. Service can be stretched at busy times, but is helpful and friendly. The ‘Pla muk yak thok’ pulpo crocante octopus starter looks great but La Alta found it a bit too graphic so we went for the ‘Kung yang’ brochetas de langostinos (grilled shrimp skewers) which were delicate and had real bite and subtle spice. The Indian-style fish curry was magnificent, and the Pad Thai – customized with tofu for us – a breezy, tasty version of one of my favourite dishes of all time. It is all predictably expensive, but worth doing if you’re in the area and hankering for a taste of South-East Asia in a city with a real dearth of it.