At first glance, you may not be blown away by Lima; few people are. Though Lima might not blow you away with its beauty, it will certainly blow you away with its food. The capital city of a country blessed with good produce, Peru has a rich culinary culture that dates back further than the Incas. But it’s in Lima where you’ll find the best of it, a city responsible for generating some of South America’s best chefs. Here, how to make the most of it in 24 hours.
Although Peru grows some of the world’s best coffee, only recently has a significant coffee culture started to take shape. Begin your day in Lima, as any good day should start, with a Peruvian pour over from Café Neira, a bright artisanal coffee shop in Miraflores. If you’ve checked into the new Aloft hotel, the Uber ride will only take a couple of minutes. Then, take a walk along the oceanside promenade all the way to the artsy Barranco area, where beautiful old buildings gaze over the Pacific Ocean.
Grab a pastry from La Panetteria, a bakery and cafe that makes chocolate croissants, loaves of seeded bread and dainty little tarts with ribbons of chocolate and berries placed neatly on top. Roam the area, stopping in at Mate, Mario Testino’s gallery, which includes portraits of Princess Diana, and features his Alto Moda series showcasing Peruvians dressed in traditional garb.
Lunch should be had at La Piquanteria, a casual taverna which serves up some of the best ceviche in town. Get there early, around 11:30 a.m. as the waiters inch open the doors—this low-key joint owned by chef Héctor Solís draws a serious crowd. Next, for a shot of culture, head north of the city to the Museo Larco, a beautiful pre-Columbian art museum set in a stark white building crawling with bright pink bougainvillea.
By now it should be cocktail hour, so head back down to Barranco and grab a Pisco sour at Siete, a restaurant and bar set in a rambling old building. The food here (think garlic-slicked prawns and sashimi with chile paste) is fresh and uncomplicated, so staying for dinner is certainly a good option. Or make your way to the most sought-after restaurant in town, Central. Located in a new glass-fronted building on the edge of Barranco, Central serves up plates of elevated Peruvian cuisine from the country’s most celebrated chef, Virgilio Martínez. Reservations are not easy to come by, so if you don’t have a reserved seat, order a couple of plates and cocktails from Martínez's Bar Mayo next door.