As the daughter of two Peruvian parents, I may be biased in saying that Peruvian food is on another level. I was blessed to grow up with this authentic and typical food prepared at home each night by my mom, but I want you to know about it too!

Food is the center of most Peruvian gatherings and we take pride in having delicious food to eat when we are together. All family reunions I attend always have lots of food to choose from.

Family gathering in Lima with arroz con pollo and papa ala huancaina
Family gathering in Lima with arroz con pollo and papa ala huancaina

Below I’ll share some of my favorite dishes along with ones you should try the next time you’re in Peru. I’ve included many photos so that you can see the Peruvian food you will order and eat. I’ll be updating this post with more options and photos in the future. The captions have the restaurant name if that was available. 

Starters / Appetizers

From Ceviche comes a dish called Leche de Tigre. It’s basically the lime juice mixed with onions, ginger, and parts of fish, but put into a glass to drink. It used to come as ‘yapa’ (extra given to the customer for free), but now it is extra in many restaurants and usually served as an appetizer.

Conchitas a la parmesana are scallops still on one side of the shell with melted cheese on top.

Conchitas a la parmesana Peruvian food
Conchitas a la parmesana at Las Paraguas in el Callao

Choritos a la chalaca are mussels topped with a sauce containing onions, tomatoes, and chili pepper.

Tequeños are a great way to start any meal. These small dough fried goodies can be stuffed with just about anything, but the most common one is cheese. I’ve had it stuffed with lomo saltado and aji de gallina before though. Tequeños come served with guacamole or a sauce that would best complement what’s inside.

Tequeños typical peruvian food
Tequeños with guacemole and ají amarillo as dipping sauces

Peruvian Food Main Meals

My favorite all time Peruvian dish is Lomo Saltado. This dish is sautéed steak along with tomatoes, onions, and chives mixed with soy sauce. It’s served with rice and French fries. I love it with a fried egg on top of the rice changing the dishes’ name to Lomo Montado.

Lomo Saltado
Lomo Saltado

One of the most known Peruvian dishes is Ceviche. It’s a fish based plate that also includes onions, ginger, lots of limes, salt, Peruvian corn, sweet potato, and spicy pepper. The fish is cooked in the lime and it’s a very refreshing meal to have during the summer.

A variety of rice dishes are a staple in Peruvian food. One in particular is very popular and it’s called Arroz Chaufa. You can get this dish vegetarian or with varying types of meat (beef, chicken, shrimp, mixed). In or near the Amazon, there’s an Amazon version which includes a certain kind of pork called cecina and bananas which the other versions do not include.

Chaufa amazónico at the Gocta Andes Lodge
Chaufa amazónico at the Gocta Andes Lodge

If visiting the rainforest, or nearby, then cecina should be on your must try list. It’s not found on the coast or in the mountains so this may be your only chance. It can be served with a side of yuca frita or patacones (fried plantains). The rainforest is the only place you’ll find patacones in Peru.

Cecina con yuca frita at the El Sauce restaurant
Cecina con yuca frita in El Sauce

Another rice favorite is arroz con mariscos which is rice with seafood. This is a very common dish along the coast.

Arroz de mariscos best Peruvian food
Arroz de mariscos at Las Paraguas in el Callao

Jalea mixta is one of my faves during the summer and on the coast. It contains a mix of fried seafood: fish, shrimp, squid, and fried yuca. It’s topped with lemon and should be paired with tartar sauce.

Jalea mixta at Las Paraguas in el Callao
Jalea mixta at Las Paraguas in el Callao

A staple of Peruvian food is la causa. The word itself is so popular that people use it to refer to their friends! The original causa is mashed potatoes mixed with lemon and salt put into layers in a pan with tuna or chicken mixed with mayo in between. You can find other versions that are vegetarian or include seafood.

Ají de gallina is another one of my favorites. It’s boiled chicken thens shredded and mixed with the special sauce. As most Peruvian food, it’s served with rice and potatoes on the side.

Desserts

If you’re an ice cream person then you must try lucuma. It’s a flavor you can’t find just anywhere and it’s absolutely delicious. Some places serve it with crepes or alone.

crepe con lucuma peruvian dish
Crepe con helado de lucuma at the Gocta Andes Lodge

Turrón has to be one of my favorite Peruvian desserts. It’s a layer type of cake made of rolled crumbles and layered with a honey like sweet glaze. On top there are little candies that I usually take off. It’s a staple during October which is the month of the Lord of Miracles (Señor de los Milagros). Everywhere you go you’ll see purple and find turrón.

Mazamorra morada is made with purple corn that is native to Peru and mixed with cinnamon. It is said that Africans were the ones to start using the purple corn to make their own version of it.

Many times you can find mazamorra morada mixed with arroz con leche and labeled as combinado (combined). Arroz con leche does not originate in Peru, but it is a very common dessert.

Combinado arroz con leche y mazamorra morada peruvian food
Combinado: arroz con lech y mazamorrada morada

Visit Peru

If you’re looking to visit parts of Peru most people usually don’t see, then you need to see this post. More Peru posts to come!

This is by no means all of the Peruvian food out there. I will be adding more to this list. In the meantime, tell me in the comments which of these Peruvian dishes you would try first!

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Viaja more y live más,

Latina Traveler

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