Three Super Spots to Curb Your Hunger, Peruvian Style
Though the words “hungry” and “Lima” don’t exactly compute for me, the city is filled with snack shops, cafes and street vendors. All serve up delicious Peruvian fare. For a quick bite with local flavor, check out these spots for some of the best tastes Lima has to offer.
Juanita Bodega Bar is legendary. Located right on the central Parque Municipal in Barranco, the tiny two-room bar has been run by the same family since 1939. Over the years it has been a magnet for Lima’s Bohemian residents and the Peruvian literati. Shelves of ancient liquor bottles cover the walls evoking an alcoholic apothecary. Though the pork sandwich is the house specialty, I can never pass up a large, fresh, silvery sardine. The sánguches sardinas are prepared as simply as possible: with one absolutely gorgeous whole marinated sardine enveloped by a crusty roll.
All sandwiches are served with a homemade salsa criolla, a popular Peruvian condiment made with red onion, rocotó (hot!) pepper, cilantro, and lime juice. Juanita Bodega Bar is a great place to take a breather, grab a bite, and soak in some Limean history.
If you have a sweet tooth, Lima offers some of the world’s best churros. The sugarcoated fried dough is served warm, soft on the inside with a slightly crunchy exterior. Most guidebooks will point you in the direction of Manolo’s, a café in the Miraflores district. Naturally, there’s some (heated) debate as to who makes the best churro in Lima. Luis contested the pastries from tourist-friendly hotspot in favor of what he insisted would be the best churro of our lives. Naturally, I followed Luis’ extremely passionate lead and headed to the Barranco district, to LA 73.
It was a race against the clock. We pulled up just as LA 73 was closing their doors, but with doe-eyes and fervent pleas we convinced the cafe to serve us one plate of their famous churros.
The churros are served with a small bowl of melted dark chocolate, which perfectly compliments the sugary confections. Luis was right: LA 73’s churros are absolutely out of this world. An ideal snack at any time of the day, you’ll find Peruvians chowing down on churros morning, noon and night.
Anticuchos are the Peruvian answer to the kebab. Most often they are made from the corazon, or the heart of beef. This grilled, skewered snack is most likely sold from a street cart or local market stall. The beef hearts are cut into chunks and marinated (usually with vinegar, garlic, cumin and chili pepper), then skewered and grilled over an open flame. Reputedly, the best anticuchos in Lima are grilled by anticuchera Grimanesa Vargas Araujo on a Miraflores street corner.
Tia Grima, as referred to by her multitude of fans, has been managing her cart for more than 30 years. She’s been offered a restaurant deal and many opportunities to expand her business, but always refuses, unwilling to sacrifice the home-cooked quality of her delicious anticuchos. This doesn’t mean that she hasn’t kept up with the digital age – she has a website, a phone line (you can place advance orders) and yes, you can even “friend” Tia Grima on Facebook.
It’s exciting to watch Tia Grima and her team in action, preparing their famous fare. I was thrilled to finally try the Peruvian “heart on a stick.” There’s always a crowd gathered around the grills; good things come to those who wait, up to ninety minutes depending on the time of day. A toqued team slowly rotates the skewers over the open flame, constantly brushing the beef with spicy marinade. Tia Grima runs a strictly food-to-go joint. The anticuchos are served in styrofoam takeout containers with boiled potatoes and a choice of two fiery-hot salsas. Back in the car, we savored the tender, marinated meat. The beef hearts are served medium-rare with a delicious char-grilled exterior. Tia Grima is a champion at her craft; these anticuchos are not to be missed!
Juanita Bodega Bar: Avenida Grau 274, Barranco (Parque Central)
LA 73: Avenue El Sol Oueste 175, Barranco
Anticuchos de la Tia Grima: Enrique Palacios and 27 de Noviembre, Miraflores
2010 Mileage Total: 25061