Cusco’s international exposure and Peru’s South American-leading cuisine combine to provide fantastic food options. Following are seven favourite places from my July-August 2016 stay.
Although touristy, the ChocoMuseo museum, gift shop and café are well worth a visit, or, in my case, multiple visits. The museum explains the chocolate production process and history and the café serves exquisite chocolate-based food and drinks. ChocoMuseo’s workshops also come recommended.
Chocolate mousse and mix your own Mayan hot chocolate ingredients (chilli, honey, hot milk and cacao) viewing Plaza Regocijo and the city beyond
Chocolate tart and a mochaccino, ChocoMuseo
A fruit kebab with chocolate fondue
Ecopackers Hostel Restaurant
Ecopackers hostel’s restaurant provided a convenient alternative to hitting the Cusco streets for a meal. Made with fresh ingredients, I enjoyed several meals in the hostel’s courtyard, bar and in front of the open fire.
Ecopackers’ grillied alpaca with avocado, tomato, lettuce and hand-cut potato chips; lettuce is the only non-South American origin ingredient
Amaranto Anticuchos & Cafe
Amaranto Anticuchos & Cafe serves traditional Peruvian cuisine on Carmen Alto in the San Blas neighbourhood. The food is good and cheaper than equivalent restaurants in Cusco’s centre. I came here twice for the cuy (guinea pig), a local delicacy.
Guinea pig with potatoes, a sauce and stuffed capsicum (pepper) at Amaranto Anticuchos & Cafe
Cicciolina is a contemporary restaurant with fantastic, original food. It has a formal dining room and, my preferred option, a tapas bar. Worth stretching the budget for.
Tapas and pisco sours at Cicciolina
Osso bucco and stuffed pasta
Mercado San Pedro
Central Cusco’s primary market, Mercado San Pedro sells a fantastic range of fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, food ingredients and souvenirs. San Pedro also has a restaurant section serving great value meals including ceviche.
One of several Mercado San Pedro entrances; outside the market locals with makeshift stalls sell fresh produce and food including chicharrón (fried pork belly) with corn kernels
Soup and ceviche at a San Pedro stall
A stall selling food ingredients including quinoa and salt from nearby Maras
The lady selling these larvae at the market didn’t appreciate my recording of the grubs; I guess she was superstitious like many locals
Mercado San Blas
On the opposite side of Cusco’s centre is the smaller and quieter Mercado San Blas. The market’s produce is limited but it has some fantastic value restaurants and juice stalls. A custom-made sandwich from Desayunos Amalioné accompanied by a fresh juice from neighbouring Jugos Naturales Carmencita was a delightful and low-cost dining experience. For a different drink, try lúcuma con leche (lúcuma with milk) without sugar. Lúcuma is an intense local fruit and when blended with milk turns into a delicious smoothie exhibiting caramel and sweet potato flavours.
Mercado San Blas’ Jugos Naturales Carmencita on the left and Desayunos Amalioné on the right
A custom-made sandwich from Desayunos Amalioné
Deli Monasterio, next to the Belmond Hotel Monasterio produces scrumptious cronuts (croissant/donut cross), a Cusco culinary highlight. The European bread products and strawberry tarts are also delightful. Do get there early to have a full choice as the bakery products often sell out.
Two Deli Monasterio cronuts ready to be devoured
A strawberry tart and coffee at Deli Monasterio