Here are some highlights from our dining adventures in Cusco:
El ayllu – delicious sandwiches with sliced salted pork on a sweetish roll, served warm; a flakey rectangular pastry with a little cooked caramel in the middle that tasted like burnt sugar, in a good way. Charming old fashioned neighborhood place with waiters in uniforms. clearly popular with locals who shopped for pastries at the counter. I later returned to try the flan which was excellent. Not too sweet and just the right consistency, not too creamy or rich.
Juanito’s – hipster sandwich shop that uses classic peruvian ingredients like deep fried pork known as chicharrones to make fantastic sandwiches. a Subway this is not. It is on a little street in the hip happening San Blas neighborhood. We had vegetables con pollo, lechuguilla, tomatoes, zuccini, cebello Blanca, pimentos, mushrooms, shredded chicken, and Pan Con Chicharrones, with cajole frito, sweet potatoes, onions, 15 soles.
limo– classy novoandina restaurant overlooking the main plaza (and I managed to snag a table on the enclosed balcony with fantastic views of the churches, made even more dramatic by a lightening storm that suddenly broke out (our first real rain of the trip); we split two sides, deep fried balls of cheese and yucca served in a delicious creamy orange colored sauce; spicy shrimp covered with a paprika-like spice and served on a skewer with an assortment of dipping sauces, one too spicy to eat; a delicious aji de gallo (sp) the traditional chicken
dish prepared, we suspect, somewhat untraditionally in a creamy orange colored sauce with sticky rice; excellent pisco sours.
Don Esteban and don padro – hip coffee and bakery with what look like real croissants ( we will find out tomorrow at breakfast).
The cross keys pub – a famous British ex pat place that was fun for a beer and eavesdropping.
Cicciolina – we can see why this is considered to be Cusco’s best restaurant. It’s a chic but cozy dining room and tapas bar with very inventive food. We shared an appetizer of bbqed pink chicken livers with lots of local cracked red pepper served on a bed of arugula with mangos, shaved fennel, dried beet chips (at least that’s what we think they were) and a Dijon vinaigrette for 23 soles ($9 about). i had a variation of pasta puttanesca which I make a lot at home. This was pasta with tomatoes, capers, toasted anchovies and fresh basil, for 34 soles ($13) was tempted by the black squid pasta with shrimp but worried the coconut lemongrass sauce might set my still recovering stomach back. D had delicious lamb drizzled with a warm mint scented sauce and a sweet reduction of red wine reduction served with puréed fava beans with rosemary and bacon for 45s/$17. Dessert was a crazy rich concoction, basically two small dishes, one filled with super creamy chocolate mousse with rock salt from the salt pans we visited in the Sacred Valley area of Maras and chocolate from Quill abambas jungle, another with a tan lucaman cream (that resembled caramel) concocted for us “to enjoy the wild and bitter flavors of Peru.” The homemade black olives were super salty and superb.
Jack’s Cafe – After a strenuous hike up to Sacsaywaman, the impressive Incan fortress high on a hill above the city, we just happened to hike back exactly to the street where this Aussie-owned cafe is located so we joined the line and after a short wait, joined lots of foreigners eager for some more familiar food. The lemonade was just like home. So was the excellent BLT and I had a very good sandwich on thick homemade bread of cream cheese, smoked trout, guacamole and capers.
Pacha Papa – Excellent traditional Peruvian food in the shadow of the lovely church in San Blas neighborhood. We had dinner in the outside patio,very good chicarones for an appetizer; then for entrees Aji de gallo and lamb cooked nearby in open pit by chef.