The city of Arequipa is famous for its colonial architecture and charming streets as well as for the three volcanoes that surround it. But many travelers are unaware that Arequipa is also home to some of Peru’s most delicious foods, made from ancient recipes and featuring flavors that tempt even the most discerning palates. According to its own citizens, there’s not one bad restaurant in the whole city, and that claim is easy to believe after you’ve tried a bit of what they have to offer. Traditional dishes you may want to try include cuy chactado -an entrée of flattened, pan-fried guinea pig – and adobo Arequipeño, which features pork stewed in chicha de jora (a fermented corn drink).
One of the most well known traditional restaurants – or piquanterias as they’re known in the city – is La Nueva Palomino, which has been in business for nearly a century. The heart of this little restaurant is its wood-stove kitchen, and they pour their souls into each generous portion. The menu features many traditional Arequipan dishes, but the roast suckling pig with potatoes and vegetables is highly recommended. For an appetizer, try the zarza de patita – a spicy relish dish made with thin sliced red onion, tomato, corn and pigs’ feet. La Nueva Palomino is located at Pasaje Leoncio Prado, 122, Yanahuara, Arequipa and is open every day for lunch from 11:30am until 5pm.
In the middle of Arequipa’s historical district, you’ll find a 17th century house that is home to the Wayrana Restaurant and Café, famous for traditional recipes served in fresh, original ways. They have several exotic dishes on the menu, such as ostrich and alpaca, and like many Peruvian restaurants, they also feature cuy (guinea pig) – this time served boneless in a special sauce. Wash your food down with a glass of sweet chicha morada, made from purple corn. Find the restaurant at Calle Santa Catalina, 200, Int. B, Cercado de Arequipa; they’re open from 11:00am until 11:00pm. Reservations are recommended for this popular restaurant.
If you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience, then you’ll want to head to Chicha, run by Peru’s premier chef and culinary spokesman, Gastón Acurio. The restaurant is situated in a house built over five centuries ago, and is beautifully decorated with artisanal goods hand made by nearby artists. Not a typical Arequipa restaurant, Chicha features food from the Peruvian coast, jungle and mountains. Some of the most popular dishes are the rocoto relleno (stuffed hot pepper) and the lomo saltado – a Japanese/Peruvian fusion dish featuring sautéed tenderloin. Don’t forget to try the delicious corn bread, made from purple corn. The restaurant is found at Calle Santa Catalina, 210 – Int. 105, open daily from noon to midnight, Sundays from 10am to 6pm.