This isn’t about the big fancy restaurants Lima is famous for, but the menú del dias found all over Peru. These places keep Peru full and satisfied and are where you’ll be spending most of your time eating throughout the country. So it’s important to know what the hell you’re reading on these menus, because they’re everywhere. Here is our guide to ordering at a small, Peruvian restaurant.
This is going to be your starter at these kind of restaurants. A typical menú consists of a starter (or entrada) and a main dish, usually accompanied with maracuja juice or chicha – a popular Peruvian drink made from purple corn with various spices.
Basically a chicken soup, but you’ll usually find a couple feet served in your chicken, which aesthetically isn’t the most pleasing. This option is offered everywhere, even in hot climates where you wouldn’t expect warm food to be served so liberally. Other types of soups are also offered, from sopas de pescado to carne.
Papa a la Huancaína is a Peruvian appetizer of boiled potatoes in a (sometimes) spicy, creamy sauce. It is served cold, which may seem surprising, but the dish is a national favorite and the idea of a cold potato grows on you.
Not the most filling option, tequeños are fried wanton dough with cheese in the middle and, if you’re lucky, served with guacamole sauce.
At menú del dias, ceviche is not served as a main dish, but rather it will be a starter. These plates of ceviche are much smaller than the ones you’d find at a cevicheria or other seafood restaurants – if you want a big fix of ceviche, don’t go to a menú del dia.
These will typically be served with beans and rice and maybe a salad. It’ll be your main dish and you’ll most likely leave feeling pretty full because of how much food you just ate.
Fried fish and grilled fish is something you’ll find everywhere along the coast in Peru. Chicharron de pescado is like a fried fish nugget that is also a firm favorite with Peruvians everywhere.
This dish is hugely popular in Peru and will often be listed as a meal option by itself, without an entrada. It is a Peruvian-Chinese (chifa) stir-fry combining marinated meat with onions, tomatoes and french fries.
This is another Peruvian-Chinese fusion dish consisting of fried rice mixed with your choice of seafood, chicken or meat. It is offered almost everywhere and, just like the lomo saltado, is loved by everyone.
Tacu tacu is the Peruvian version of refried beans and rice and comes from their crillo tradition, which is like grandma’s home-cooking mixed with Peru’s rich culinary diversity.
Milanes de means that the dish will be breaded, so you can opt for breaded meat, fish or chicken.