THE BEST PICANTERÍA RESTAURANTS IN AREQUIPA
Lima may get all the gastronomic attention, but Arequipa is home to some of Peru’s most famous and delicious dishes, and it’s slowly making itself known for its traditional food and quality cooking.
There are a tonne of great restaurants in Arequipa that cater to all needs, but for this list, we have picked the three best picanterías serving Arequipeñan food.
A picantería is a traditional lunchtime restaurant in Peru, found predominantly in and around the cities of Arequipa and Cusco.
Picanterías would serve the local field workers in the area, and some of these original ones can still be found in the rural area of the city. However, some have modernised by combining the restaurant experience with the open kitchen, traditional tables, and furnishings of the picantería.
1. La Nueva Palomino
Set in the beautiful San Lazaro neighbourhood, lunch or an early dinner at La Nueva Palomino pairs perfectly with a walk around the area and a stop at the Yannahuara viewpoint for incredible views of Volcano Misti.
The open dining hall, and partially covered outside area make for a beautiful dining experience, and the traditional decoration and dress of the staff make you feel like your stepping back in time in Peru’s history.
Picanterías typically serves lunch and Palomino is open from 12AM – 5PM and closed on Tuesdays.
They have a wide-ranging menu filled with Arequipeñan cuisine including the famous Rocoto Relleno (chilli pepper stuffed with cheese, beef onion and garlic), Chicha de Jora (corn beer) and soups.
Our waiter spoke fantastic English and explained a few dishes to us before we settled on a sharing plate which had a wide variety of food on it, and to drink, a Chicha Morada which is made from purple corn.
2. El Tio Dario
Another fantastic picantería in the San Lazaro district.
El Tio Dario is open from 11AM – 4PM every day of the week. If you prefer eating outside, then head here over Palomino as the garden and terrace are beautiful.
With a similar menu to Palomino, some other Arequipeñan foods you can try include Pastel De Papa, layers of sliced potatoes heled together with melted cheese, or Cuy Chactado, guinea pig deep fried and served with a spicy gravy.
Set inside one of the many beautiful courtyards and houses you can find in the city, Victoria has lots of character and provides a comfortable atmosphere for dining.
Open from 12-10:30PM, it’s the only picantería open late and great for a dinner option.
They have a small menu, focusing more on meat dishes such as alpaca and rack of lamb, which is all delicious, along with traditional favourites such as quinoa and purple corn.
THE BEST CAFÈS & BREAKFAST SPOTS IN AREQUIPA
The 19th-century buildings and courtyards of Arequipa have been repurposed with several artisan cafes and coffee shops. I spent two weeks in the city on a two-week Spanish course and made many of these cafes my homes in the afternoon whilst working.
The laid-back atmosphere of the city and the beautiful architecture are best enjoyed from one of these spots with a coffee made from locally grown beans.
1. La Dispensa
Freshly made bread every morning, quality coffee and a great menu with lots of breakfast and brunch options or bigger meals for lunch. This was my go-to work café for my two weeks in Arequipa.
2. Gud Cafe
Another great spot with lots of healthy options for breakfast and lunch.
They have a choice of two breakfasts on the set menu, with muesli/fruit or eggs/bread, which are both substantial and filling. Grab a spot next to the window so you can watch people walk by in the beautiful streets.
They are also on Uber Eats if you are feeling lazy. The chicken and green vegetables with fried rice was a go-to option for me when I couldn’t be bothered to leave the Airbnb.
3. Crepisimo Creperie
This is the best breakfast spot in Arequipa with an extensive menu covering your standard American breakfasts to sweet and savoury crepes with every kind of filling.
With two floors, there’s lots of space, and again, the big open windows are the perfect spots to sit by, and people watch.
If you fancy a crepe but don’t want to sit down, you can stop off at La Petit Francaise which is another spot in town that will cook you one up quickly so you can take it on the go.
Freshly made salads, set breakfast menus made with traditional Arequipeñan substitutes and excellent iced coffees, this is another wonderful café among the many in Arequipa. You really are spoilt for choice.
A couple more spots to check out include:
- Palacios Coffee – I popped in here every morning before my Spanish class to grab a coffee. Quality blends all chosen from around the country.
- Kafi Wasi – substantial breakfasts with fruit, eggs, bread and coffee along with another great selection of coffees from Peru and South America
- Puku Puku – lovely rooftop terrace with umbrellas and bean bags if you want to grab an iced coffee and sit out in the sun.
If you are looking for some more great spots and rooftops to enjoy a more alcoholic drink, then check out our top picks for Arequipa’s best rooftop bars and sunset spots.
THE BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANTS IN AREQUIPA
With siblings and best friends who are vegans, we are always on the lookout for great places for them to eat for when they join up with us on out travels. It can be a struggle in South America, but Arequipa is better than most with a handful of quality vegetarian restaurants.
Here are our favourites:
- Omphalos – offers a great selection of stews, grilled vegetables and veggie burgers
- Vida Sana – serve huge portions of beans, potatoes in typical sauces and other vegetables
- El Buda Profano – what more could you want than high-quality vegan sushi!
For everything else you need to know about Arequipa, check out our city guide and list of best things.
We’ve also planned a handful of itineraries, some with and some without visiting Colca Canyon to help you get a better idea of how to organise your time in this amazing city.
Or if you are set on Colca Canyon already, then head to our list of options for getting there or if you are trekking, then straight to our guide so you can prepare and know what to expect.
For more on backpacking in Peru and South America, check out our itineraries and travel routes: