Lima is now internationally recognized as a gastronomical powerhouse and a city worth visiting for the food alone. But now the city Lima is on the world’s stage, the local spots, the true gems, have become popular and can’t be unfound. The crowds aren’t getting smaller, and the food isn’t getting cheaper, but it is still just as good as ever. Here is the list of the seven cevicherias that locals wish were still a secret.
Restaurant, Seafood, Peruvian, $$$
Every day he comes in with his fresh fish and she is there, ready to prepare his catch into some of the best ceviche and fish dishes in Lima: it doesn’t get much more family-owned than that. Her food was so good that the couple were able to open a restaurant, Sonia’s, which you can find today down an unassuming street in the Chorrillos district. The decorations are as authentic as you can get, with colorful nets, oars, and other fishing gear lining the walls. The fish is as fresh as it gets, caught in the morning by family and friends to ensure the best ceviche. This unassuming restaurant has Peru’s most accomplished and dignified people queueing up for a great meal.
From the first story of his house, Javier Wong rustles up some of the best ceviche in Lima. Located in the lesser-known neighborhood of Santa Catalina, Chez Wong has been visited by Anthony Bourdain and should be by everyone else who comes to Lima. The room is rather cramped and small, but it is well worth the wait – his ceviche is among the best in the city. You’ll always find a packed house because of the small space and his increasing recognition within Lima and amongst travelers. Make sure you show up early and enjoy a plate of ceviche made right.
Somewhat hidden down a side street near Barranco’s plaza, you’ll know you’ve found Canta Rana when you see groups of people drinking beer outside the restaurant, waiting to be seated. Join the line – you’ll wait for about 20–30 minutes, but it’s worth it. Though the restaurant has an Argentine-themed interior, with flags and soccer jerseys everywhere, don’t let that trick you, as it is most definitely a Peruvian cevicheria. They have every ceviche dish you could want, and all done exceptionally well. They also do really good fish soups and stews if you would like to try something different.
If you’re on a tight budget but would still like to try some quality ceviche, head to the Mercado de Surquillo, where you’ll find some of the best, amid the bustling market’s fish and meat section. Wander around the colorful stalls until you find the butchers, and enjoy eating ceviche on a little stool while you watch a woman chop up chickens into bits that you didn’t know were edible. It’s the only ceviche joint where fish and meat hang from hooks like decorations – a truly unparalleled experience. There aren’t many places where you’ll see the food stored, chosen, cut, and served, all from your seat.
This is a delicious place to eat, and it brings in the crowds. It has become very popular and may lay claim to the best ceviche in Lima – all for a decent price. If you don’t head there before noon, there’s a chance that you might not get in, or that they will run out of fish. There is one menu option and it is made to perfection every time. Don’t miss out on the ceviche y chicharron!
Restaurant, Seafood, Peruvian, South American, $$$
Located in Barranco, El Muelle offers great ceviche and a laid-back vibe. With outdoor seating and decent prices, it’s a great spot for lunch if you find yourself in the area. At night, it tends to be a different scene altogether, with only a couple of people taking advantage of their two-for-25 soles (US$8) happy hour.
You must go early to get a seat here, especially at weekends, as the place fills up quickly. You’ll find a line of Peruvians and tourists waiting to try some mouthwatering ceviche and their excellent marinated clams.