Cusco is a wonderful city. It is the capital of the region where Machu Picchu (one of the 6 wonders of the world) is located. Due to its geographical location, Cusco has a great variety of tubers, corn and typical animals of the Peruvian Andes such as alpacas. The diversity of its resources makes it an excellent city for gastronomic development and it is precisely what many expert chefs have done in recent years, use local products to invent new dishes or use them in the best way in existing dishes.
The center of Cusco is not very big, so it will be easy for you to walk from one restaurant to another to discover the local flavors. We also recommend visiting the markets to complete your culinary experience. Next, you will find 3 types of places where you can eat authentic Cusco food.
The picanterias are restaurants that are designed so that different groups of people share the same table in case there are no spaces available. This custom is very old and it is how they worked in the beginning. The word picanteria comes from the verb to pick or catch. A group of friends order a meal and when the food arrives at the table they all eat from one plate. Currently that custom has been lost a bit, but there are people who still practice it. It is a custom that unites people a lot. To find a picanteria in Cusco, it is best to ask a local, but of course we recommend you visit “Cusqueñísima Picanteria”, a restaurant with more than 30 years of existence that keeps old recipes and presents them with a contemporary touch.
It is not difficult to find good food in Cusco, the difficult thing is to find bad food. Most of the restaurants around Cusco’s main square are highly reputable. In these restaurants you can find typical Cusco food but also typical Peruvian dishes such as ceviche and seafood rice, which due to their ingredients are not typical Cusco dishes, however, they are delicious. Because these restaurants are luxurious and located in a privileged location, their prices are high, but they are 100% worth it. A restaurant that we recommend in “Chicha” by Gaston Acurio, an internationally famous Peruvian chef.
In Cusco there are a large number of markets of all kinds. The important markets for this guide are those that offer some alternative to eat. The central market of San Pedro offers a wide variety of food products, both to buy and cook at home, and to eat in the same market. The dishes sold in this market are generally soups and sandwiches. The sandwiches are not that special, however, the soups are the ideal meal if you want to eat something typical of Cusco. These soups have all kinds of vegetables and meats and are delicious and perfect for cold days.