9 Best Restaurants in Lima
Over the last 20 years, Lima’s best restaurants have helped propel Peruvian food onto the world’s culinary stage.
Chef Gastón Acurio is credited with raising awareness of Peru’s cuisine, most notably ceviche. He has since built a global restaurant empire on that authority. Octopus and purple corn at Central.
Younger chefs, many of whom are behind the restaurants on this list, continue to innovate, scouring the country for novel ingredients to prepare using modern techniques.
The best meal in Lima is the Mater Elevations menu at the original Central location in Miraflores.
Virgilio Martínez’s menu showcases ingredients from Peru’s three regions: the Pacific coast (desert), Andes mountains, and the Amazon.
You will love the creative use of ingredients combined with the artistic presentations. Every course is a work of art.
Martínez trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and London before working in many high-profile restaurants, including Astrid & Gastón in Bogotá and Madrid.
He then returned to Lima and opened Central in 2008. He met his wife, chef Pía León, and the two worked together for several years before marrying.
After eating at Central in 2014, it was named the best restaurant in Latin America by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. As of 2021, Central is ranked number three.
Another rockstar of a restaurant is Maido by chef-owner Mitsuharu ‘Micha’ Tsumura.
Chef Tsumura specializes in Nikkei cuisine, a combination of Peruvian ingredients and Japanese cooking techniques.
Maido was voted the best restaurant in Latin America by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2017, 2018, and 2019. In 2021, it ranked number two.
In 1994, Gastón Acurio opened his flagship restaurant, Astrid & Gastón, with his German wife Astrid, a pastry chef he met at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
Together, they grew their restaurant into the number one place to eat in Lima.
Astrid & Gastón is settled in a 300-year old mansion in nearby San Isidro.
In 2013, following his sustainable butchery training in San Francisco and France, Renzo Garibaldi returned to Lima and opened Osso in the La Molina district.
Located on the city’s eastern edge, La Molina is one of Lima’s safer, cleaner, and upscale districts. It’s also less touristy than Miraflores and Barranco near the coast.
After gaining some success, he opened a second, more convenient location in San Isidro’s business district.
Diners can choose from an a la carte menu or a tasting menu. An on-site deli offers fresh meats and sausages for purchase, as well as house-made sauces and condiments.
In 2020, Osso was ranked the #10 best restaurant in Latin America.
León previously worked in Astrid & Gastón and abroad at the Ritz Carlton in New York City.
She began working at Central at age 21, contributing to its ascent to the #1 restaurant in Latin America in 2014 (displacing her former employer, Gastón Acurio).
Following her success with her husband Virgilio Martínez at Central, León opened Kjolle adjacent to their flagship restaurant in Lima’s bohemian Barranco district.
There, she continues to showcase Peru’s biodiversity through creative a la carte and tasting menus. Kjolle was ranked #18 in Latin America for 2020.
In the 90s, Rafael Osterling traded lawyering for chef whites when he studied at Le Cordon Bleu.
Upon graduating, he worked at kitchens in London and Paris before returning to Lima and opening his eponymous restaurant.
Rafael is housed in a townhouse in the Miraflores district, a block west of Maido. The menu reflects a confluence of Peruvian, Italian, and Asian influences.
Named after the avenue on which it’s located in Miraflores, La Mar Cebichería Peruana is one of Gastón Acurio’s many celebrated restaurants in Lima.
Here, you’ll find a menu full of ceviches and seafood. After all, “La Mar” means “the sea” in Spanish.
To ensure you’re getting the freshest ingredients, La Mar is only open for lunch. Drop by between 12 to 5 pm Tuesday to Thursday or 12 to 5:30 pm Friday to Sunday.
Osaka is a Peruvian chain specializing in Nikkei cuisine. Specifically, they serve fresh sushi, tiradito, and Peruvian izakaya.
The San Isidro location occupies a below-ground space complete with a chic outdoor bar and lounge.
Outdoor bar and lounge at Osaka San Isidro
Osaka has expanded internationally to Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Quito, Bogotá, Miami, and London.
Chef José del Castillo turned a 114-year old house in Barranco into Isolina, a traditional Peruvian tavern “where the spontaneous laughs and the freedom to eat as everyone wishes are celebrated.”
Named after his mother, herself a restaurant owner, Castillo’s focus at Isolina is “the forgotten recipes in old notebooks,” harkening to a time when family-style meals relied on less costly organ meat.
Interesting items include pickled pig’s feet and onions, beef brain omelet with nutmeg and parmesan, and beef kidneys in red wine.
As you can see, the best restaurants in Lima, Peru, run the gamut from world-class fine dining to casual, family-style cevicherias.
There’s a reason I continue to return to Lima again and again–the Peruvian food. Go to the source, and you’ll be richly rewarded.
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