Foodies rejoice! Arequipa is a South American food lover’s goldmine, replete with enough spicy pepper infused, potato paired and lip-smacking broth immersed dishes to keep any discerning palate duly satisfied. Seafood arrives fresh daily from an Atlantic coastline only 100 km to the west, farm raised lamb and alpaca are aplenty, while locally grown fruits, veggies and (of course) spuds serve as a scrumptious foundation for many of the areas traditional and Novoandina (modern Andean) creations. Top it off with a few high-end restaurants owned by the country’s internationally acclaimed Chef Acurio and you’ve got yourself something of a gastronomic heavyweight here.
For the traditionalist amongst you, make sure you check out the picanterias, which tend to be located on the outskirts of the city. The name translates to something like “spicy restaurant,” harkening back to the days of 19th century locals in need of a kick to sober them up. The setting will be rustic, the food delicious, with staples like Rocoto Relleno (spicy stuffed peppers) and Adobo (corn beer marinated steak) punctuating a menu which usually features different dishes on different days of the week. Look for names like Sabor Caymeno and the celebrated La Lucila to get you started, and keep in mind that many of these restaurants only open between the hours of 11 am – 4 pm.
Craving something with more of a modern twist? Arequipa’s got you covered there, too. Contemporary restaurants such as Mr. Arcurio’s Chicha and Trattoria del Monasterio, along with the Andean-Italian fused ZigZag dot the downtown landscape, offering a contemporary take on traditional ingredients, with chic atmospheres and contemporary price-tags to boot. There are also plenty of cheap eats available, from cevicherias and the incredible San Camilo Market to Starbucks and other American fast food joints, for those of you who prefer something quick and on the go. Put it all together and you’ve got yourself a Peruvain dining scene well worth savoring and, without exaggerating, maybe even writing home about.