Sunday, 18 November 2012

Cusco Restaurant Guide

Vegetarian Restaurants

One of the upsides for Cusco's insane tourism was the masses of good (and even cheap) vegetarian restaurants. I have never been more spoilt for choice that has not made a dent in my budget. So I made it my mission whilst I was in Cusco to try as many veggie places I could and they are summarised here...

PRASADA (Guicha's top recommendation)
Menu of the day: Fried rice cakes and salad

The best vegetarian place I found in Cusco. There are two places under the same name; one was a restaurant and the over was a take out window. 

The restaurant
Canchipata, San Blas, Cusco
The restaurant that had an al-a-cart menu as well as 'menu of the day' for about S/8. My menu of the day was veggie pockets (like samosas), fried rice cakes on a bed of salad, a small pot of pineapple for dessert and the juice of the day. It was incredible and I was so full afterwards! The rest of the menu also looked fantastic with a wide variety of cuisines.
  Open only for lunch, closes around 2.30. Check the blackboard outside for the deals of the day.

The take-out spot
Choquechaca 152 | Barrio San Blas, Cusco

   Probably our most visited food place in Cusco, located in a wide door way, it's easy to miss it. It was simply a window with a couple of stools but with a great burger (sandwich) menu. Our favourite was the Mexican lentil burger with mass amounts of guacamole! The burgers range from S/5-6 and are well worth it. You can eat at the window or get it to go which we did.
    The opening times vary but are stated by the window. It opened about 11am and closed at either 6 or 8pm (4pm on Sundays). 

Santa Catalina Ancha 384, Cusco, Peru

This place was recommended by the Lonely Planet and for good reason. It's rare to find a wholesome, delicious veggie 'menu of the day' on a budget. I was so grateful when I discovered a veggie restaurant that offers a soup and bread, main and tea for only S/6! I was very impressed. There was a great cozy atmosphere and the place was full. The rest of the menu also looked good and the presentations of the food were nice. Definitely recommended!

Natural: Vegetarian Food & Wine
Chihuampata, 652 | San BlasCuscoPeru

We came here a couple of times because it was THE cheapest veggie food we could find in Cusco but they don´t skip out on the quality. Opposite the San Blas market, this small place looks classy, so you wouldn´t believe you could eat for such a small budget. The menu of the day was only S/5! This included a "help-yourself" salad, bread, soup, a main (usually with good soya), a small dessert and a drink. Cant beat that! The food´was great and the service very quick; a great quick place for lunch. The wine was also very cheap here too.

Only open for lunch. I think it was closed on Sundays.
Govinda Lily 
Mercado de San Blas

It was so nice to be able to walk up to a comedor, where all the locals eat, and order the menu of the day that contains no meat! This place was perfect. The first of the comedors in the San Blas market run by a lovely woman who prepared a great vegetable soup, vegetable salad, with beans and rice (brown rice option for an additional Sol) and a drink, all for only S/5! Keep in mind, she was only open from 12 to 2.30pm when we were there.

Other Restaurants 

Marcelo Batata
Calle Palacio 121CuscoPeru

This was our "once-a-month-treat" meal (which was the price of a moderate meal back home!). The place was classy yet informal and casual. There was a roof top terrace and an interesting, diverse menu. We shared (our first) good bottle of wine and an amazing potato and beetroot soup! The purpose was for Harry to finally eat a typical alpaca steak and it did not disappoint! He described it as: "awesome"..... Theyre would have been many more words but he couldn't stop eating. He did stop for a few seconds to make a face of amazement. Later on he said It was "the best meal I've had in Latin America, Alpaca is tender and full of flavour, tasting similar to a massive wood pigeon breast, cooked to perfection with a glorious honey and garlic sauce". What's not to love.

La Chomba
Av. TulluParte Alta, Cusco

If you want to eat local this is the place to do it. We were the only white people in there and I ordered Cuy. (This is Harry writing as Luisa couldn't bare to write about Guinea Pig). For 30 soles you get the biggest plate of food known to man, only problem is theres half a guinea pig on the plate... It did not taste good and was very chewy. The stuffed pepper turned out to be a stuffed chilly, stuffed with spicy gristle, which lead to me ordering a litre of beer. In all fairness this is exactly how the locals eat it and so in that respect it was cooked well, but for my palate this was one culinary step too far. Plus the potatoes were undercooked as were the yucas, (which taste exactly the same as potatoes). Combined with rice i was overcarbed. To put this into respect i quite enjoy the peruvian classic of rice with potatoe fries but this just didnt sit well with me. However in terms of atmosphere with a live Mariachi band and the place heaving with locals it was truly an amazing experience. So am i glad i did it? Yes. Would i do it again? No. 

Pizzeria: Cafe Dinos
278-B Choquechaka St, Cusco, Peru

A tiny place with only 4 tables but easily seen by the glowing fire from the small wood burning pizza oven! The dim lighting and fire made a perfect and slightly romantic atmosphere. There was a big selection of pizzas on the menu and the cheapest happy hour (2 for S/12) we have found so far. We even got garlic bread for a starter which was included in the price. The staff we very friendly, which added to experience. The pizza itself was delicious and reasonably priced for a wood burning oven. 

The world's BEST banana cake ever!!
Tanda Pata 660, San Blas

What a find! Its a small, quaint cafe tucked up in the San Blas area but it was the amazing smell of the cakes that made me stop walking. We got to try a brownie sample (fantastic!) but it was the chocolate banana that won us over! The most moist and delicious we have ever tasted! We went straight back the next day for more! The cakes are a decent size and cheap! The staff are also lovely. A MUST go to in Cusco!!

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