If there’s one thing limeños know and appreciate, it’s seafood.
Even if you don’t view yourself as a seafood aficionado, you’ll find yourself digging into and seriously enjoying a plate full of ceviche, tiradito, or jalea when in Peru‘s capital city.
It’s inevitable, especially when you spot the overflowing cevicherias along Avenida La Mar in Miraflores. The lure is just too strong between Lima’s heavy multi-cultural culinary influences, world-renowned cuisine , generational recipes, and colorful plates full of the freshest, most flavorful ingredients. It also doesn’t hurt that Lima is located along the icy Pacific Humboldt Current, meaning there’s always a steady flow of fresh catch of every variety.
Be prepared to extend your stay in Peru’s capital city after reading this mouthwatering seafood guide to Lima.
The dishes you absolutely need to try
What follows is by no means a complete list of the seafood dishes on offer in Lima, but these are certainly the ones to try.
Ceviche in Leche de Tigre
The quintessential Peruvian seafood dish, Peruvian ceviche has made quite a name for itself in the foodie world.
Essentially, Peruvian ceviche is prepared by dicing sushi-grade raw fish and then “cooking” it in lime juice. It’s usually topped off with spiced red onion and aji pepper alongside sweet potato or choclo, the white Andean crunchy corn kernels. The leftover juice is called leche de tigre, or tiger’s milk, and it is almost as delicious as the ceviche itself.
There’s no better dish to demonstrate the Japanese influence on Peruvian cuisine than tiradito. The cousin to ceviche, tiradito is raw fish thinly sliced like Japanese sashimi and served in a ginger and aji marinade or in a creamy aji amarillo (Peruvian hot yellow pepper) or rocoto (hot red bell pepper-like) sauce.
Arroz con Mariscos
Rice, or arroz, is a staple in most Peruvian cuisine so it’s no surprise that it ends up served alongside the day’s fresh catch and shellfish. Today, arroz con mariscos is a favorite lunch or dinner dish. The rice and seafood are served in a creamy aji amarillo and parmesan sauce and topped with a splash of lime juice. The dish can come with any number of seafood and shellfish combinations, including everything from fish to shrimp, scallops, mussels, crabs, and clams.
This popular Peruvian seafood dish is of the fried variety, usually white-fleshed fish, shrimp, and squid in a beer batter coating and topped off with lime-marinated red onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and Peru’s famous aji amarillo.
Chupe de Mariscos
Although this dish is most famous in the Arequipa region of Peru, you’ll find chupe de mariscos on most seafood menus in Lima. This much-loved dish is a thick stew usually consisting of fresh fish or shrimp cooked in fish stock with yellow potatoes, aji, onions, garlic, egg, milk, and cheese. Often, choclo, rice, beans, peas, and carrots are added to the soup.
Already mad over raw fish cuisine, Peruvians love their sushi. Pair that with the city’s access to both salt and freshwater fish varieties and Lima’s sushi options are some of the freshest and most varied you’ll find. As per usual, the chefs of Lima have unsurprisingly added their special twist to the Japanese recipe, using ingredients like leche de tigre and aji peppers in their creations.
Lima food recommendations from Gary Cohen, Intrepid’s General Manager for South America tours:
Surquillo is a great food market as it’s close to Miraflores and very clean. Some of my favorite restaurants include Maido (Miraflores) for Peruvian-Japanese fusion, Isolina (Barranco) for old school Peruvian recipes or La Mar (Miraflores) for sensational ceviche and seafood. For some incredible, more hidden spots go to Canta Rana (Barranco) for traditional seafood and Bao (Miraflores) for laid-back Peruvian-Asian snacks. A lot of popular places don’t even take reservations anymore, so if it’s lunch you’re after show up early at around 12/12.30.
Finally, I strongly recommend trying any of the local-led Urban Adventures day tours, especially this one with a local Peruvian family. You visit a local Lima market, learn how to make Pisco sours, and enjoy homemade cuisine with the locals!
The restaurants you need to visit
Lima is a pretty big city, but allow me to make your hunt for the city’s best seafood a little less daunting. The following list of restaurants is based on recommendations from Lima locals themselves. You can’t go wrong with any of these seafood and sushi tips.
Restaurants for seafood
Cevicheria Mi Barrunto
Founded and run by the Sánchez Aranda brothers, Cevicheria Mi Barrunto is a local Lima favorite recommended by almost every limeño I asked. Located in the traditional district of La Victoria, Mi Barrunto serves up more than just delicious ceviche.
The menu includes everything from tiradito and chupe de mariscos to jalea and arroz con mariscos. All of the dishes on the Sánchez Aranda brothers’ menu were inspired by their mother Maria Aranda’s recipes.
El Veridico de Fidel
El Veridico de Fidel has been around for more than 25 years. Locals come from near and far for its leche de tigre, one of the best in the city. Don’t let the restaurant’s simple décor of plastic chairs and tables mislead you. El Veridico de Fidel offers incredibly good seafood for a great price and in massive portions. Just let the daily lunchtime crowds convince you. The restaurant is located in the popular Miraflores district of Lima.
Named this year to Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants List, La Mar Cebicheria is a Lima staple for sustainably-sourced seafood prepared by acclaimed chef, Andrés Rodríguez.
As popular as it is, La Mar does not take reservations, so expect a queue. However, the wait will be worth your time. The menu includes an array of ceviches made from octopus, sea urchin, shrimp, and grouper. Find La Mar on the famous Avenida La Mar, also known as “Ceviche Row,” in Miraflores.
Entre Las Redes and La Red del Pescador
Founded by Chef Carlos Gaspar, Entre Las Redes has quite the Cinderella story behind it. Gaspar started with a simple stand at the Mercado El Edén del Ovalo Higuereta called La Red del Pescador where his seafood recipes earned him a coveted invitation to Mistura, Lima’s renowned food festival.
As happens with any chef invited to Mistura, Gaspar went from simple market stand to reservation-only restaurant almost overnight. Wanting to hang on to his roots, he still maintains his original ceviche stand in the Mercado El Edén despite realizing his long-time dream of opening his own restaurant around the corner.
Lima bar recommendations from Gary Cohen, Intrepid’s General Manager for South America tours:
Try classy Cala (Barranco) down on the seafront, an eclectic mix of pisco cocktails at Ayahuasca (Barranco) or some up-and-coming local craft beers at Barbarian in Miraflores or Barranco Beer Company in…well, Barranco! We also have a very trendy new hotspot in Barranco called Dada which is worth checking out.
Restaurants for sushi
Actually a Nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian fusion) restaurant, Osaka has some incredible sushi on its menu. Find Osaka at two locations: Santiago de Surco and San Isidro.
Better known for their sushi bar of maki and nigiri sushi, Asakusa also has a variety of Japanese and fusion dishes on their menu.
EDO Sushi Bar
With seven locations in Lima, EDO Sushi Bar is always nearby. Visit their location in Jockey Plaza for a Japanese-style teppanyaki show. Besides makis, their menu includes sashimi, tiraditos, and nigiri.
HANZO’s menu includes everything from makis, rolls, and sashimi to nigiri, gunkan, and temaki. For 10 years they’ve been blending Japanese and Peruvian cuisine into innovative new creations.
Mouth watering? Visit Peru on Intrepid’s 10-day Real Food Adventure.
(Image credits from top to bottom: Intrepid Travel x5, La Mar website, Osaka website.)