Cusco’s food scene is second only to Lima, the capital of Peru. Cusco has a wide range of restaurants, from fine dining to casual brunch spots, traditional Peruvian dishes to innovative fusion menus. Peru’s eclectic culinary heritage has gained worldwide recognition as one of the world’s leading culinary hotspots. Set high up in the Andean peaks, Cusco´s atmospheric food venues and some of Peru’s leading chefs can be found serving up a mouth-watering regional fare and international specialties. Here are the ten best dining options in Cusco.
Cicciolina is a charming venue split between a low-key tapas bar and an intimate candle-lit restaurant on the second floor of an old colonial house just minutes from Cusco’s central plaza, Cicciolina is a charming venue split between a low-key tapas bar and an intimate candle-lit restaurant. With its old wooden beams, impressive photographic displays, and dried garlic bundles and paprika garlands hanging from the ceiling, the place exudes a warm ambiance where guests are welcomed like old friends. Served from an open-plan kitchen, the menu offers many Mediterranean flavors, with tasty small plates of pan-fried scallops and squid-ink pasta that work as perfect accompaniments to a glass of fine vintage from the bodega’s extensive collection. One of Cusco’s most popular and highly-rated eateries, Cicciolina consistently gets the thumbs up from customers who flock here for breakfast, lunch, tapas, bar meals, and dinner. The extensive a la carte dinner menu which features a good selection of Peruvian and international dishes can be enjoyed in the informal bar area with its high vaulted ceiling and rustic wooden beams or in the more sophisticated dining room, where fine dining is at its most exclusive in the city. Please note that the restaurant has recently changed location, just around the corner on Palacios Street.
Located in the bohemian district of San Blas, Pachapapa is a rustic restaurant specializing in high-quality, traditional Andean cuisine. Surrounded by whitewashed columns and scattered pot plants, diners sit on wooded banquettes in an open courtyard warmed by outside heaters and an enormous clay oven. If visiting at the weekend, the presence of a harpist adds to the restaurant’s atmosphere. This is one of the best places for sampling Peruvian classics, such as oven-cooked trout and Alpaca anticuchos. Those brave enough to try the local specialty of cuy, a whole-roasted guinea pig and local favorite.
It seems only fitting that a restaurant as good as Uchu should be located close to the beautiful Plaza Nazarenas, home to no less than four of Cusco’s most charming, luxurious, and exclusive hotels. If you are lucky enough to stay here, take a short stroll downhill from the square and slip into the unassuming courtyard leading to this Peruvian Steakhouse. Where alpaca, regular steaks, and seafood dishes are served up fresh on a hot stone so you can cook it to your preference yourself! Picture a sophisticated dining experience in slightly traditional, slightly glittery surroundings, with an excellent wine menu; all served up by friendly and very professional staff.
Morena is a sophisticated restaurant located in the Plaza des Armas. The menu is a mix of traditional Peruvian dishes with contemporary recipes. The Lomo Saltado is one of the best in town, with the beef au jus mixed with cheesy quinoa as an accompaniment to die for. The Alpaca Risotto is also an excellent way to sample this local cuisine in an exquisite setting.
Named after the ancient corn beer of the Incas, Chicha is one of Cusco’s famous restaurants, so make sure you reserve well in advance to secure a table. It’s owned by Peru’s award-winning celebrity chef Gastón Acurio who has found great success with his restaurants in Lima and other cities in North and South America. The restaurant overlooks the Plaza Regocijo, and diners can enjoy balcony views while tucking into sophisticated dishes that put an imaginative twist on traditional Andean recipes. While Gaston doesn’t cook here, the menu is primarily Peruvian cuisine with staples such as causa – mashed native potatoes topped with trout, avocado, quail’s egg, and hot red pepper; ceviche; adobo – a rich meat stew; and, of course, guinea pig.
Tunupa Restaurant is found on the Plaza de Armas and has fabulous views across the plaza and the cathedral. The elegant decoration combines contemporary and pre-Hispanic features with a collection of ancient textiles and pottery on the walls. The numerous tour groups who dine here enjoy the traditional fare enjoyed by the multiple tour groups who eat here, with local instrumental music and a live band. You’ll meet people worldwide and spend a fun and delicious night with the evening folklore show!
Cantina Vino Italiano is a lovely intimate wine bar only a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas. The owner is from Italy and offers wines and specialty imported items from his home country. There are a few tables with a welcoming yet romantic atmosphere and the best authentic Italian cuisine in the city… and did we mention the Italian wine?
Originally called Baco, Cicciolina Cafe offers a laid-back and rustic setting with colorful paintings, decorations made from iron and wood, and fresh flowers. This sister restaurant of Cicciolina allows for a more casual and slower-paced dining experience. Here, you can hang out for hours and enjoy the warmth of their mud oven.
When it’s time to take a break from the delicious Peruvian fare, head over to Jack’s Café, a local hotspot that serves American favorites and Australian staples, this may be a shock regarding the best restaurants in Cusco, Peru! While the food is a definite reason to stop here, the camaraderie will keep you heading back to this spot again. The staff is incredibly accommodating, making you feel like family when you are far from home.
D´Wasi is close to the central plaza on Santa Catalina Angosta and offers the best coffee in Cusco. Their snacks and smaller dishes are excellent, and a queue often tells you something about the place. The perfect option for a meal on the go, in between tours, or a welcome cappuccino to kick-start your day.
Greens Organic offers the perfect health kick after a night on the Cusco tiles with a farmhouse ambiance and a tantalizing, natural menu. Located on the second floor of a colonial building on the central plaza, Greens sources local ingredients, many from the nearby Sacred Valley, to create its meals. Homemade wheat pasta and generous salads packed with goats’ cheese, quinoa, and roasted beetroot provide vegetarians with something special. Meat-eaters can tuck into succulent organic Alpaca medallions. Don’t miss the delicious tropical fruit juices, or for something more substantial, there is a top-notch selection of organic wines and beers.
Thanks to Cusco being such a touristic destination, attracting thousands of travelers throughout the year, finding restaurants that offer vegetarian or organic food options is not a problem. Green Point is a vegan restaurant, trendy among all types of diners, vegans or not, who are amazed by the creativity of the recipes and the richness of the ingredients in each dish. Their must-try dishes are oyster mushroom ceviche, quinoa salad, and Cusco grill plater, but you can’t go wrong with whatever you order! Ensure you wash your meal with homemade kombucha or a local craft beer.
*This restaurant deserves a special mention for being one of the best seafood restaurants in The Andes.
A little out of the center in Mariscal Gamarra (10 mins in a taxi), this local favorite is the best option if you are hanging out for seafood at 3400 meters elevation! How fresh is the fish at El Mariscal? Dishes like ceviche use freshly caught fish delivered from Lima that same day. The quality of ingredients makes this seafood spot one of the best restaurants in Cusco. In this intimate setting, guests can watch their seafood plates be prepared at the bar near the entrance. Go with a friend and sample a few dishes, including the house favorite, "pulpo" a la parrilla (grilled octopus), for a melt-in-the-mouth option.