Don’t Visit Peru Without Enjoying These 10 Foods & Drinks

Get ready to take your taste buds on a tour when you enjoy this top ten list of Peruvian foods and drinks you simply must sample.

Peru has one of the most diverse food cultures in the world. Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish food cultures make Peru’s delectable flavors stand out as a global cuisine. With the Pacific Coast, Andes, and the Amazon, Peru has a wide variety of fresh ingredients to inspire Peruvian chefs. Here is a list of delicious dishes and cool beverages to get you started on your gastronomic adventure...

1. Ceviche

Visit Peru Image: A close-up of beautifully arranged ceviche on a white plate is the perfect start to a Peru food tour.

You've likely heard of this delicious dish before. You should definitely make time to sample it during your Peru food tour.

You can find versions of ceviche all over Central and South America, but there are a few details that make Peruvian ceviche especially memorable.

Basic ceviche is made of raw fish marinated in citrus juice. The acidity gives the fish a somewhat firmer texture. In Peru, you’ll find it served alongside sweet potato and plump corn kernels.

Near the coast (especially in Lima), you can try a Japanese version of ceviche called tiraditos. Instead of marinating fish in citrus juice, tiraditos is made of sashimi and a piquant citrus dressing, which the chef adds just before the fish is served.

2. Pisco Sour

Visit Peru Image: A hand reaches for one of two Pisco sours on a table.

Toast to good times and great memories with a Pisco sour. A Peru food tour isn't complete without a good cocktail!

Photo credit: Lindblom

Pisco is a type of clear brandy made from grapes. It is named for the port city of Pisco, on the arid coast where Peruvian grapes ripen under the hot, desert sun. There are several types of grapes used to make Pisco, and some are especially fragrant. Make sure to appreciate the bouquet before you take your first sip.

Pisco has a sharp taste, so it’s often mixed into a cocktail that balances its strong flavor. Pisco sours combine Pisco with lime juice and simple syrup. That mixture gets topped with a soft cloud of foamy egg whites and aromatic Angostura bitters.

Don't forget to pick up some Pisco and other reminders of your Peruvian adventures!

3. Lomo Saltado

Visit Peru Image: A to-go basket is filled with the colourful beef and vegetable stir-fry has fluffy white rice on the side, and fried potatoes throughout. A green dipping sauce sits in the basket, and a napkin and white plastic fork are off to the side.

Mmm...delicious stir-fried beef in a savory sauce, complemented by fried potatoes? Yes, please!

Photo credit: Gary Soup

Lomo saltado shows off the Chinese influence on Peruvian food. In this dish, soy sauce and a Peruvian pepper called ají amarillo make a marinade for sirloin steak. Food writers love to site lomo saltado as an example of Peru’s “fusion cuisine.” Chinese immigrants came to Peru to build railroads in the 20th century, and their presence had a lasting impact on Peruvian cuisine.

This dish is served with a scoop of white rice, but you’ll also find french fries mixed in with the savory stir-fry; Peruvians love their potatoes, and the fried exterior of the fries get deliciously shellacked with the lomo’s mouthwatering sauce.

4. Aji de Gallina

Visit Peru Image: A hard-boiled egg is sliced in half beside the creamy chicken dish this section of our Peru food tour list describes.

Make sure you sample this creamy chicken dish on your Peru food tour. #Yumm!

Photo credit: djjewelz

Aji de gallina—chicken cooked in a rich sauce, seasoned with Peruvian peppers — is the perfect Peruvian comfort food.

Condensed milk makes this dish creamy, while crushed crackers and nuts (usually pecans or walnuts) thicken it up even more. Alongside the chicken, you’ll typically find a boiled yellow potato or some steamy rice, a few slices of hardboiled egg, and sliced olive for garnish.

5. Rocoto Relleno

Visit Peru Image: A red rocoto pepper sits on a white dish. The cap of the pepper was cut off, and has been placed back on top of the filled pepper and cheese.

Okay, the presentation of this is lovely!

Photo credit: franzconde

According to hungry travelers, rocoto relleno put the southern city of Arequipa on the map. Americans might mistake the rocoto peppers for red bell peppers, but these are much spicier. You can find many different variations, but cooks typically stuff the rocoto peppers to the brim with a mixture of raisins, chopped beef, peanuts, and hard-boiled eggs. It all gets topped off with a mild cheese that bubbles over in the oven.

6. Carapulcra

Visit Peru Image: The hearty potato stew described in this section of our Peru food tour is heaped onto a yellow plate, and accompanied by white rice, and what appears to be a vegetable slaw.

This is clearly a hearty meal; perfect fuel for your Peruvian adventures.

Photo credit: manda_wong

Carapulcra is a stew made with one of Peru’s most specialized ingredients — freeze-dried potatoes. These potatoes, called papas secas or chuños, originated in the cold air of the Andes. Chuños have a concentrated potato flavor that provides a flavorful backdrop for the stew, which is a satisfying combination of pork, chili paste, and peanuts.

7. Chupe de Camarones

Visit Peru Image: The vibrant red seafood soup is piled onto a white dish; a generous scoop of rice has been placed in the middle of the dish.

As if the description wasn't delicious enough, the vibrant red colour of this seafood soup is doubly inviting.

Photo credit: _e.t

Chupe de camarones is a simple shrimp chowder. Order a steaming bowl after you tackle the waves in northern Peru, where the chilly Humboldt Current creates a thriving ecosystem for marine life. Marine life that includes plump, sweet shrimp. Shrimp is typically served whole in this soup — heads and all. Condensed milk makes this dish a little richer, and a chunk of corn on the cob adds to its adventurous texture.

8. Alfajores

Visit Peru Image: A single alfajores sits on a white plate, and has been dusted with a generous amount of powdered (or confectioner's) sugar.

A Peru food tour isn't complete without dessert. This sandwich cookie looks so inviting...

Photo credit: demiante

These crumbly sandwich cookies are just the right amount of sweet. The filling is made from condensed milk, which will remind you of dulce de leche. Alfajores are finished off with powdered sugar, and the dainty finished products look at home perched next to a cup of coffee or tea.

You know what else makes an excellent dessert? Chocolate!

9. Picarones

Visit Peru Image: Delicious fried sweet potato dough swims in a sweet brown broth of raw sugar syrup.

A donut-like sweet potato dessert that's doused in a rich brown raw sugar syrup? What's there not to like?

Photo credit: Carlos Varela

Picarones have a similar look and preparation as doughnuts. But they come with a dramatic plot twist: picarones get their flavor from sweet potato. The first picarones were fried up by Afro-Peruvians, and you can still find the best versions in Lima’s Afro-Peruvian kitchens. After they come out of the boiling oil, picarones get doused in a syrup made from raw sugar.

10. Coca Tea

Visit Peru Image: The Peru food tour closes with a cup of coca tea still has the leaves steeping in its cup, and a spoon is sticking out. The cup sits on a table with fading blue paint.

We close out our Peru food tour with one of the country's most renowned beverages, taken for health.

Coca tea is a simple drink made of coca leaves submerged in hot water. It has a mild, earthy flavor. Although coca leaves are the base ingredient in cocaine, the leaves are only mildly stimulating, and they make a drink comparable to caffeinated tea. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this tea helps to lessen the symptoms of altitude sickness, and natives swear by it. Cusco has a staggering elevation of 11,152 feet (3,399 m), and coca tea has helped many a visitor adjust to the thin air.