Skip to Content

Famous Food in Peru: The 29 Dishes & Culinary Treats You Must Try

In a country renowned for its unique archaeological sites, stunning natural setting, and welcoming people, Peru’s cuisine is the coup de grâce.

Peru’s food and drink belong in the conversation of the world’s best with their innovation and variety and are a highlight for all who visit.

And it’s not all about the ceviche (but yeah, it is excellent). Visitors are treated to an impressive range of dishes, from hearty mountain fare in Cusco to fantastic seafood feasts on the coast. Peru has an embarrassment of riches regarding quality food for several reasons.

First, Peru has seen an eclectic mix of people immigrate over the years, with each having left their mark on the local food. Second, the fantastic range of climates and ecosystems, along with its long coastline along the Humboldt Current, mean there is no shortage of native ingredients to work with.

The tradition starts with the ancient Andean cuisine, and in the past 500 years, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Chinese immigrants have all added their own distinct touch.

Peru’s indigenous communities have cultivated over 200 varieties of potato and are one of the many ancient cultures that have used corn and maize in all its forms. The colors of both the potatoes and corn are just a small reflection of the breadth of flavor that Peruvian food is famous for.

Everywhere you go, you’ll find a local specialty and there’s a good chance you’ll love it all – something I found when I lived in Peru.

South America Ceviche
Ceviche: Peru’s national food and an unmissable – and addictive – dish.

Here are 29 incredible Peruvian dishes you have to sample. Most of our tried and tested recommendations here are in Lima, but when planning your visit there will be local recommendations on the article, for example in this guide to spending a few days in Cusco.

Meat and fish dishes

1. Lomo saltado

Ask a Peruvian person what their favorite dish is, and there’s a very good chance they’ll tell you it’s lomo saltado. This stir-fry starts with thinly sliced beef cooked in dark soy sauce and vinegar, adds onions and tomatoes, and is served with rice and a side of french fries.

Regional variations sometimes add chilies or other assorted vegetables.

A typical Lomo saltado dish, a typical Peruvian meat base dish
Lomo saltado, a typical Peruvian dish that combines a delicious mix of juicy steak, french fries, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro.

What previous clients have said:

Steph’s help laying out an itinerary for Chile was huge toward us having a great trip.  She listened to our interests and compiled a framework that we could follow to make our plans.  She included many practical tips as well as numerous options. She truly saved us many, many hours of research.

Jeff Mullens
Traveled to Chile and Patagonia June 2022

Lomo saltado is a perfect example of the inclusivity of Peruvian cuisine. A century ago, Chinese immigrants began what’s known as chifa cuisine, a fusion of local food with Chinese ingredients and cooking techniques.

Since then it’s become a national favorite. Seemingly every restaurant serves it, so you’re sure to have many opportunities to give it a try.

For an innovative and top-quality take on lomo saltado in Lima, head to Astrid y Gastón, run by Lima native and Michelin-starred chef, Gastón Acurio.

I highly recommend this lomo saltado recipe from the Peruvian vlogger Cecilia Tupac (which has English subtitles for you to follow along). 

2. Ceviche

Synonymous with Peruvian cuisine and the country’s national dish, ceviche has taken the world by storm. You may have tried Mexican ceviche which has a slightly longer list of ingredients and uses a different chile, often Jalapeño. In Peru, this enticing dish of lime or lemon-marinated raw fish is ubiquitous along the coast, and even inland using freshwater variants. It is cut into cubes, often flavored with peppers, and is generally served with yuca, sweet potatoes, red onion, coriander and crunchy canchitas (baked corn kernels).

Ceviche in a beachside restaurant in Huanchaco.

Deriving from the Quechua word siwichi, meaning fresh fish, ceviche has been a local staple for centuries. There are countless ceviche spots in Lima and every other city, and the overall standard of freshness is excellent. In Lima, the ceviche served at La Mar Cevicheria is a cut above.

Another popular variety found in ceviche restaurants is jalea, which usually includes shrimp, squid, and fish, lightly battered and deep-fried.

Ceviche is not limited to the coastal regions, either. In the mountains and the Amazon regions, ceviche made with trucha (trout) is quite popular. The best place to sample freshwater ceviche is the aptly named Ceviche Seafood Kitchen in Cusco on the Plaza de Armas.

To make your own at home, I recommend this recipe from Eat Peru.

3. Tiradito

Another delightful Peruvian dish is their version of sashimi, tiradito. Thin cuts of fresh fish are covered in a citrusy, mild-to-spicy sauce just before serving. The most popular sauces are ají amarillo (mild yellow chilli) and rocoto (spicy red pepper).

Tiradito is the most famous creation of Nikkei cuisine, the Japanese-Peruvian fusion that’s picking up Michelin stars all over the world. Perhaps the best place for an unforgettable Nikkei meal is Maido, serving dishes as supremely well-presented as they are delicious. Be sure to reserve a table well in advance.

This simple recipe will guide you through making this yourself.

4. Parihuela

While we’re on the topic of seafood, you shouldn’t miss a popular Lima favorite, parihuela. This seafood-based soup can include any or all of fish, crab, octopus, and shellfish, in a spicy broth of ají amarillo and ají panca chilies and lemon juice.

Parihuela, one of Lima´s favorite seafood based soup
Parihuela, one of Peru´s most iconic dishes that must be sampled on a trip to Peru.

Hundreds of restaurants serve Parihuela in Lima, and although it would be an impossible task to find the best rendition, the overall standard is high. Costazul Seafood in the Miraflores District has an enticing, extensive menu, and their parihuela does not disappoint.

I highly recommend this recipe from Peruvian chef Nico Vera to create this delicious dish at home.

5. Leche de tigre

If you’ve eaten ceviche before, you’ve already tasted leche de tigre! “Tiger’s milk” is the typical marinade used to prepare ceviche, and is made with lime juice, white fish (commonly sea bass or sole), fish stock, yellow onion, garlic, celery, ginger, coriander, and chili paste.

Leche de Tigre - a traditional Latin American ceviche marinade made from fresh seafood and citrus dishes.
Leche de Tigre, a traditional marinade made from fresh seafood and citrus juices, is one of Peru’s most popular and famous dishes.

This marinade has become so popular that people ask for more on the side as an accompaniment. It’s commonly served in a glass with a fried plantain and shrimp garnish. It’s available everywhere ceviche is served. Careful, it’s addictive!

To try making Leche de Tigre at home, I recommend following either the recipe for Ceviche above or this simple recipe that can be easily adapted to taste.

6. Pollo a la brasa

A close second to lomo saltado as the most popular local meal, pollo a la brasa can be found in every corner of Peru. “Braised chicken” is seasoned and grilled over a charcoal flame until blackened. It’s generally eaten with mayonnaise or a spicy ají sauce of chilies, tomatoes, and coriander, along with rice and french fries.

Pollo a la brasa was first made and popularised by Swiss immigrants in the 1950s, and although it was at first only served in high-end restaurants, it now makes up nearly half of the fast-food market. Originally only salt was added to the chicken, but many seasonings are now used in its preparation, including rosemary, cumin, soy, and huacatay (Andean black mint).

It can often be purchased whole from fast food restaurants as an affordable lunch option and is eaten with mayonnaise or a spicy ají sauce of chilies, tomatoes, and coriander, along with rice and french fries.

Cecilia Tupac (a Peruvian vlogger) has as a great recipe with English subtitles to follow and create this delicious meal at home.

7. Arroz con pato

A dish made popular in the north of Peru, arroz con pato (rice with duck) is a gut-busting portion of rice and duck (generally dark meat) cooked in a rich paste of garlic, vinegar, and ají amarillo, and cooked in a reduction of either black beer or chicha de jora (a fermented yellow corn beer).

A great place to try an upscale version of the dish is Nanka, in Lima’s San Isidro district, which serves the duck acevichada (marinated in leche de tigre).

I highly recommend this recipe to cook this dish at home, found on Peru Delights, a great resource for Peruvian recipes.

8. Anticuchos

Most places in the world have their own version of meat skewers, and Peru is no exception. Most commonly, anticuchos are beef, but all types of meat are used in one place or another, including pork, chicken, lamb, alpaca, and llama. The most famous and best-liked anticucho is beef heart marinated in vinegar, often with garlic, ají or cumin.

Articuchos, a combination of juicy beef and seafood flavors
Articuchos: hearty and flavor-packed beef hearts cooked to perfection on the grill. Find them in most restaurants across the country – they’re worth a try!

Anticuchos are found in many restaurants but are often enjoyed as street food. Just follow your nose – and the crowds – and you’ll find what you’re after. In Lima, a popular place for anticuchos is the street-side Anticuchos Manuela in the San Isidro District.

If you’d like to try making your own at home, I recommend following this recipe from Peru Delights.

9. Cuy chactado

I’d be remiss for not mentioning the famous (or perhaps infamous) local specialty, guinea pig. For thousands of years, cuy was an important source of protein for Andean peoples, and they continue to be a staple from Bolivia to Southern Colombia.

Cuy chactado is a famous food in Peru, a traditional roasted guinea pig delicacy
Only for the adventurous: fried guinea pig known as “cuy”.

Cuy can be cooked in a number of ways, the most traditional of which is chactado (fried and pressed with stones). This method involves first frying in oil until crispy while covering and pressing the meat with a heavy stone.

A great place to sample cuy chactado (and other south Peru specialties) is Quinta Eulalia, north of the Plaza de Armas in Cusco.

Perhaps this isn’t a very easy one to try at home, but if you do, I recommend this authentic recipe.

10. Rocoto relleno

Arequipa, southern Peru’s largest city, has an excellent cuisine all its own. A number of its delicacies have a spicy kick, including the famous rocoto relleno (stuffed pepper).

Rocoto Relleno is the perfect mix of flavors of Peruvian cuisine
Made from a rocoto pepper stuffed with minced beef, onion, and various other flavorings, rocoto relleno is another typical Peruvian dish.

In this dish, a spicy rocoto pepper resembling a green or red capsicum is hollowed out and filled with minced beef, chopped onions, garlic, carrots, peas, and pecans. It’s then baked, topped with melted cheese, and served in a creamy tomato sauce.

Although rocoto relleno can be found all over Peru, it’s best enjoyed in Arequipa at a picantería – a local lunchtime restaurant. An excellent dining experience can be had at Victoria Picantería Democrática, north of the Plaza de Armas. Alternatively, in Lima try La Picantería in Surquillo District.

This delicious dish can be made by following this authentic Peruvian recipe.

11. Chupe de camarones

Another star of the Arequipeño culinary tradition, chupe de camarones is a dining experience to savor. This decadent shrimp or crayfish chowder, not unlike yellow curry, is made with a fish stock reduction enriched with tomatoes, onion, garlic, potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, cheese, rice, and evaporated milk.

This hearty dish has many variations around Peru, but the original recipe is best enjoyed in an Arequipa picantería. Don’t miss out on El Tío Darío in Yanahuara District, which serves up an amazing chupe de camarones. La Picantería in Lima also has an authentic version.

This is a great one to try at home. I recommend following this recipe from Eat Peru for an authentic flavor.

An indigenous woman dressed in traditional clothing in Cusco, Peru with a llama

Need help planning your trip to Peru?

My custom-designed itinerary planning service is all you need to plan a trip of a lifetime to one of South America’s most beguiling locations. Check out my Peru trip planning service for more information about how it works.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to book your trip to Peru through a local operator, check out this 15-day Best of Magical Peru tour from our trusted partner in Peru, Valencia Travel.

Hitting the country’s absolute highlights, this incredible tour will take you to unmissable Peruvian destinations including Machu Picchu, The Sacred Valley, Arequipa, Puno, and the Amazon Jungle.

12. Adobo

On Sundays in Arequipa, families gather at their favorite picantería to eat adobo, a pork stew slow-cooked in a rich sauce of garlic and peppers. The pork is fall-off-the-bone tender, and fresh bread is served on the side to mop up the extra sauce.

A popular spot for Sunday adobo brunch is La Nueva Palomino in Yanahuara District. A reservation is recommended, as the place always fills up early.

This delicious dish requires some marinating time but is a great one to make in large portions for family and friends. I recommend this recipe from Eat Peru that has extra tips on substitutions too.

13. Ají de gallina

A heart-warming favorite found all around the country, ají de gallina is chicken stew in a rich concoction of ají amarillo, garlic, and red onion, thickened with nuts, bread, cheese and evaporated milk. It’s usually topped with hard-boiled eggs and black olives and served with a side of rice.

Ají de gallina is a classic throughout the country, and Huáscar in Lima’s Surquillo District makes an excellent version.

If you’d like to try making Aji de gallina at home, follow this recipe for the authentic flavor.

14. Shambar

The emblematic dish of Trujillo, Northern Peru’s largest city, shambar is a fusion of Andean, Creole, and Spanish ingredients and cooking traditions.

This hearty soup has a base of wheat and several types of beans, together with at least three types of meat (chicken, ham, and pork are favored), seasoned with garlic, cumin, black pepper, and ají panca.

Generally served only on Mondays, an authentic rendition of shambar can be had at Squalo’s, southwest of Trujillo’s Plaza de Armas. In Lima, it can be enjoyed at the well-named El Shambar in Bellavista District.

I highly recommend this recipe from Peruvian Chef Walter Diaz to make your own Shambar at home.

15. Pachamanca

Perhaps the most ancient dining experience in the Peruvian culinary repertoire, pachamanca has been prepared using the same method since the Inca ruled from Cusco. Meaning “earth-pot” in Quechua, large amounts of several ingredients are placed on hot stones, then covered in earth and grass for a couple of hours while cooked.

Pachamanca is a traditional Peruvian dish that has been around for centuries!
Pachamanca is known for its delicious flavors that are created with many native ingredients, all cooked together in an ancient method believed to bring good luck and fortune!

This is traditionally a feast for special occasions and was made with alpaca, llama, vicuña, or cuy (guinea pig), with chuño (naturally freeze-dried potato) and assorted vegetables. Newer versions incorporate beef, lamb, pork, and chicken.

Because Pachamanca is made for a family occasion or festival, the best way to experience it is to organize in advance through a travel agency in Cusco.

If you’d like to try making this dish yourself in a pan rather than the traditional method, then this recipe from Peruvian Journalist and Chef Nico Vera gives you some more of the history as well as the step by step instructions.

16. Carapulcra

Another ancient dish found in the southeast of Peru, Carapulcra uses the hot stone method of cooking for this rich stew. Although prepared with llama meat centuries ago, it is now almost always prepared with pork together with peanuts, ají panca, garlic, and clove, with a side of rice, potatoes, or yuca.

As with pachamanca, the preparation of carapulcra is complex and generally done for a special gathering. Local excursions including a traditional carapulcra feast can be arranged in advance from Cusco.

With it’s rich history and cultural significance, much like Pachamanca the recipe has to be adapted for making at home. I recommend this recipe however it is worth noting ingredients like dehydrated potatoes can be harder to source in some places.

17. Juanes

In the Amazon region of Peru, recipes and cooking reflect the climate and available foodstuffs. A unique and traditional delicacy here is juanes, a combination of many ingredients wrapped and cooked in leaves. A typical juane includes rice, chicken, hard-boiled eggs, black olives, and spices dipped in beaten eggs before being wrapped and cooked.

If you plan to visit Pucallpa or Iquitos in the Amazon, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to tuck in. If in Lima, you can get them at El Bijao, in Lince District.

To try making this dish you can often find banana leaves at an international grocery store, or order online. I recommend this recipe from Peruvian vlogger Claire Garcia who also suggests swapping bijao leaves for banana leaves.

18. Seco

You may have noticed by now that Peruvians enjoy eating meat. Continuing in this vein, a popular meat-based dish originating in Northern Peru is seco, a slow-cooked stew with many variations. Seco, meaning “dry”, refers to the cooking method of reduction, used to create its decadent base.

The most common renditions of seco are made with beef or chicken, but delicious alternatives include lamb, goat, llama, alpaca, or beans with rice. A cozy traditional spot to try out a beef or lamb version is José Antonio, in the San Isidro District of Lima.

I highly recommend this recipe to try making your own delicious seco at home.

Vegetarian dishes

You may be wondering by now if every dish in Peru revolves around meat. Thankfully, Peru has a number of excellent vegetarian dishes to round out its cuisine.

19. Causa

One of the tastiest and most common dishes found at almost every restaurant, the causa (also called causa rellena or limeña) is Peru’s unique take on the potato salad. In truth, it’s more of a casserole than a salad, and the original recipe calls for yellow potato, hard-boiled egg, ají amarillo and black olives with a squeeze of lemon.

Causa is a famous layered potato dish from Peru!
Fancy trying something new? Causa is a unique dish and an example of South American cuisine at its best!

From this basic template, countless variations have been created. Seafood, like fish, prawn, octopus, or spider crab is often used, and avocado is sometimes added to the mix. You will find that causas are a common accompaniment to ceviche.

In Lima, for a taste of some excellent causas, head to Puerto 260 a few blocks east of the Plaza de Armas.

Eat Peru has a great recipe I recommend to make your own chicken Causa at home.

20. Papa a la huancaína

Named after the city Huancayo, in which it was created, papa a la huancaína is a potato dish now found everywhere in Peru. This popular plate, based on the ever-popular ají amarillo, is a thick sauce over boiled potatoes and eggs. This simple classic always hits the spot any time of day.

Delicious, creamy Papa a la Huancaína is one of the most famous dishes from Peru
Papa a la huancaína originated from the Peruvian town of Huancayo – and is a delicious vegetarian option in Peru.

The perfect place to try it out is at Huancahuasi, which specializes in all things Huancayo, including traditional Andean fare. It’s located in La Victoria District, Lima. The popular Leopardo restaurant in Huancayo is another brilliant place to sample this dish (and a city where founder Steph found herself joining a carnival parade as part of her research for the Rough Guide to Peru).

A similar variation, papa a la ocopa, is popular in Arequipa and adds huacatay, Andean black mint.

I highly recommend this recipe from Peru Delights that has the recipe in clear steps with photos or in video format to follow along.

21. Quinoa

Don’t forget to eat your fill of different quinoa preparations while you’re visiting Cusco. This Incan ‘mother grain’ is delicious, and nutritious and goes well with nearly everything.

Some dishes you should include quinoa atamalada (quinoa and vegetable stew), and sopa de quinoa (quinoa soup), both perfect for warming your belly and bones on a chilly Cusco night. An inviting place to enjoy them is Organika Restaurant, a block north of the Plaza de Armas.

I recommend this recipe for quinoa atamalda for a risotto style dish.

22. Solterito

Another Arequipa entry, and candidate for best salad on Earth, is solterito. This salad has an unusual collection of ingredients, combining large white corn kernels, diced cheese, tomatoes, red onion, padrón peppers, black olives, carrots, coriander, anise seeds, vinegar, lime, corn oil, and dashes of salt and black pepper.

Solterito is one of the most famous foods in Peru!
Solterito is a famous dish in Peru and it’s the perfect way to spice up your lunch.

The result is a well-balanced salad that makes a full meal. For an excellent version of solterito, try La Victoria Picanteria north of Arequipa’s Plaza de Armas.

This is an easy one to try at home, follow this recipe from Eat Peru for the authentic flavors of Arequipa.

23. Tacu Tacu

Yet another example of Peru’s eclectic fusion cuisine is tacu tacu, a rice and beans dish with African influences. Created as a way of combining leftovers, cooked beans, and rice are mixed with red onion, tomato, ají amarillo, garlic, dill, and oregano, pan sautéed, then pressed together into a patty and served.

A great place to sample an upscale version of tacu tacu is Panchita, in Miraflores District, Lima.

I highly recommend Peruvian vlogger Lorena’s recipe to try making Tacu Tacu at home who’s videos are in English and clearly show the steps to follow.

Peruvian beverages

Peru’s culinary ingenuity is not limited to food. Its unique beverages have become world-famous as well.

24. Pisco

Peru’s national spirit, pisco, is a strong brandy distilled from grapes. Most pisco is produced from the grapes grown in the vineyards around Ica, a good stop between Lima and Arequipa, and the spirit has become a top export.

Two pisco sours, made from pisco, lemon juice, simple syrup, bitters and topped with egg white.
Pisco sours are the most famous Peruvian drink – and a deliciously sour cocktail.

The extremely popular pisco sour cocktail is found everywhere and is made with pisco, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters, topped with egg white. An amazing place to learn about pisco (and of course enjoy a thorough tasting) is Museo del Pisco, with branches in Lima, Cusco, and Arequipa.

To make your own Pisco Sours at home Eat Peru takes you through the simple steps in their recipe here.

25. Inca Kola

Being the innovators they are, Peru of course has created its own distinct soda, Inca Kola. Although quite unique, its flavor could be described as akin to cream soda but with a bubblegum aftertaste. Even if you’re not a fan of fizzy drinks, Inca Kola is worth a sip to at least say you’ve tried it!

26. Chicha Morada

A traditional non-alcoholic beverage made with purple corn, chicha morada is universally enjoyed. While it can be bought at the store, the best versions are made in small batches at restaurants.

Chicha Morada, a Peruvian beverage that is made with purple corn, various spices, and fruits.
Chicha Morada is a traditional drink that has been part of Peruvian culture for centuries.

Many restaurants add their own personal touch, but most are made with quince and pineapple peels, cinnamon, and cloves. The best chicha morada is usually found at good ceviche restaurants in Lima.


As you may have guessed, Peru also has some delightful original desserts to end the perfect meal.

27. Mazamorra Morada

Another purple corn creation, this recipe takes mazamorra, a sweet corn soup common throughout Latin America, and substitutes it with purple corn, pineapple, cinnamon, and sweet potato flour for a sweet but complex flavor. Virtually every restaurant with a dessert menu offers a version of mazamorra morada, many with their own unique twist.

If you have found purple corn near you, or found online, follow this great recipe to make your own Mazamorra at home.

28. Picarones

Deep-fried dough at its finest, picarones are Lima’s version of the doughnut. Made with squash or sweet potato, they are drizzled in chancaca (molasses syrup).

Picarones, a famous Peruvian food often likened to donuts.
These delectable treats are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, making them irresistibly delicious.

Picarones are traditionally eaten with anticuchos, and are a popular street food all over Peru.

I recommend this recipe that shows you in video and phot format how to make your own Picarones for family and friends.

29. Suspiro a la Limeña

The ‘sigh of the lady of Lima’, suspiro a la limeña is a decadent dessert made with manjar blanco, similar to dulce de leche or caramel, along with cream, sugar, and almond flour, served in a glass and crowned with meringue.

Suspiro a la Limeña, an iconic dessert from Peru
If you’re ever in Peru, make sure to try this teeth-tinglingly sweet treat.

A popular spot to try out all three of these desserts is Dulces Limeños Anita, in the San Borja District of Lima.

In summary, it would take a long time to fully acquaint yourself with Peru’s impressive catalog of food, but now you have a good idea of what to expect and where to start.

Although this has covered the classics of Peruvian cuisine and the country’s most popular dishes, restaurants in Lima are at the cutting edge of innovation, tinkering with recipes or turning them on their head.

After just a short time in Lima, you will quickly understand why foodies from around the world are flocking to Peru to experience what is coming out of their kitchens.

Peru delights has a great recipe for making your own suspiro at home.