For its moderate size, Cusco offers a surprisingly broad range of dining options - which should suit you just fine after an adventurous romp in the mountainous countryside. The local specialties here include dishes like Alpaca steak, guinea pig (cuy), and lomo saltado (stir-fried beef strips), though there are plenty of crispy-crust pizzerias and vegetarian friendly restaurants to satisfy the gamut of your dining desires. Prices are fairly reasonable, with a few high end eateries like Inka Grill and Cicciolina dispersed amongst a wealth of establishments that will satiate your hunger for under $15.
You’ll find the bulk of Cusco’s restaurants clustered around the Plaza de Armas, where a plethora of advertisers equipped with menus and drink tickets will attempt to entice you with promises of delicious and inexpensive food. It’s incredibly touristy here, especially on the pedestrian Calle Procuradores (a.k.a. Gringo Alley) to the north; however, if you can look past the pushy salespeople, the food and deals actually aren’t bad. There’s a more relaxed, vegetarian friendly selection along the narrow corridors of the San Blas Quarter. Names like the Indian infused Korma Sutra and trendy Jack’s Café are good to remember here, where meals are short on price but long on tasty, fresh ingredients.
If you’re a market aficionado, stroll on over to the Mercado Central de San Pedro located on Tupac Amaru, just across the street from the San Pedro Station. This enclosed marketplace is an incredibly welcome reprieve from the ubiquitous tourist haunts around Cusco. Full of every local variety of fruit, vegetable, bread and meat available, along with the occasional souvenir and article of clothing, it’s one of Cusco’s last truly authentic culinary experiences, where the prices are cheap and the fare is tasty. Just one reason among many to venture off the well-worn paths around P de A and explore the tastes around the former Inca capital.