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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

Lima is the point of entry for visitors flying into Peru, and many continue on to their ultimate destination without spending much time in the capital city. The City of Kings has seen a recent bump in popularity, largely due to its culinary prowess, and that was enough for me to stay a couple days.

Gaston Acurio is a big reason why people now view Lima as a destination, even if an intermediate one. Ceviche is Peru’s most famous fare and Acurio’s flagship La Mar Cebicheria is regarded as a temple to citrus-cooked fish. Not counting the tasty 1 a.m. chicharone sandwich at La Lucha immediately following my arrival, my first meal in Lima was at La Mar.

From the potato chips with 3 different sauces and corn nuts still warm from the oven to the cebiche mixto, every bite I had at La Mar was transcendent. People claim that it’s overrated or overpriced, but, for me, La Mar more than lived up to the hype.

Just across the street from La Mar is the place for anticuchos: Grimanesa Vargas Anticuchos. I was surprised by the relative low cost and speed of service considering the acclaim. The skewers of beef heart were tender and flavorful, and came with potatoes and hot sauce.

My other meals were hit-and-miss, but I did have a great arroz con mariscos with ceviche and chicha for about $4 after visiting the Larco Museum. I fondly refer to the Larco as the “Erotic Pottery Museum.” It’s famous ancient erotica, but the extensive collection of Peruvian artifacts was worth a visit in its own right.

Like most visitors, I stayed in Miraflores. There are a number of hostels with dorm rooms available for around $15/night. It’s safe, clean, and nearly all of the places I visited were within walking distance. The Miraflores coastline is adorned with beautiful parks that, even in winter, were filled with people and their pets. Coming from Oahu, it was a treat to look down and see Waikiki Beach and Makaha Beach.

Championed by Acurio, the Surquillo Market is also in close proximity to Miraflores. Lima’s premier farmers’ market did not disappoint either. Despite being off-season, the variety was great and the prices were just as good. I went back again to grab more of the exotic fruit.

Transportation is convenient, but slightly complex if you don’t speak Spanish. Lima has an excellent bicycling infrastructure, public buses and mini-buses can cheaply take you anywhere you want to go, and taxis are inexpensive, with the usual exceptions of the airport and heavily touristic areas.

It being winter, the weather was perpetually overcast and on the chilly side, but still manageable. Lima was a good place to spend a couple days eating and wandering, and I would do the same if I visit Peru again.

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