Prior to visiting Lima, I had heard a bunch of bad rap from travelers who had already passed through Peru’s capital. I was told it was just like any other big city – aside from the nightlife, a pretty unremarkable and unimpressive place. I had low expectations for Lima and planned to stay to for less than a day but ended up having a great experience and even extended my stay to a few days.
What really made my experience in Lima boils down to two main things: 1.) Cooking a typical dish with a Peruvian family in the non-touristy barrio of Chorrillos and 2.) Discovering the artsy district of Barranco.
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“Cooking” and Eating Lomo Saltado in Chorrillos
A week ago, I did the Colca Canyon Trek in Southern Peru and was lucky enough to meet some really cool, down-to-earth folks. One of the guys I met on the hike was a Peruvian-American guy named Miguel. Miguel is a New Yorker with family ties in Lima, and upon hearing my desire to take a Peruvian cooking class in Arequipa, he urged me to hold off and instead cook a homemade dish with from his Aunt Mirabel in their family home in Lima. Personal, authentic experiences like this don’t come around every day, so I was stoked.
We made and ate homemade Lomo Saltado for lunch. Aunt Mirabel did most of the cooking while I diligently took notes.
The real challenge will be when I attempt to recreate this traditional dish on my own.
The Artsy Fartsy Barranco
Next to the touristy, developed district of Miraflores lies the antique, artsy district of Barranco. I fell in love with Barranco and spent nearly all of my stay there.
From its colorful, colonial architecture and antique cars to its trendy cafes and bohemian street art, Barranco is a beautiful blend of old and new.
Street art with nice messages….
“Think with your heart.”
“Imitate me – you can try. Be the same as me – never”
Aside from walking around and taking in the architecture, there are a handful of museums, quaint shops and noteworthy restaurants and cafes to check out in Barranco.
I especially enjoyed MATE, the museum featuring Peruvian Fashion Photographer Mario Testino’s works. Mario has been dubbed “the world’s most prolific magazine and fashion trade photographer” and has been featured in the top fashion publications (Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair) and luxury brands (Gucci, Versace, Chanel).
He photographed Princess Diana shortly before her death and the release of her famous Vanity Fair photoshoot. There is an entire exhibition room at MATE dedicated to everyone’s favorite princess.
The temporary exhibition was a public collaboration piece where anyone can come and paint. I contributed, of course….
The food in Peru is damn tasty and the eats in Barranco certainly didn’t disappoint. The shopping was pretty on point as well. If I was traveling with more than a backpack, I would have put a dent in my bank account. In case anyone plans to visit Barranco in the future, I listed my favorite restaurants and stores below.
Burrito Bar | Get the Chicken Burrito. As someone from Southern California, I have high standards for Mexican food and can vouch for this guy
Germinando Vida // Vegan and Vegetarian Dishes | Get the veggie wrap + goji lemonade
Crem Dela Crem // Artisanal Gelato | Get the Fior di Latte + Pineapple Lemongrass. The owner speaks fluent English and Spanish. He went to culinary school in Massachusetts
Bicicoffee // Coffee | Cortado. The company started off by selling coffee from the back of their bikes.
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Dedalo Arte | Filled to the brim with quirky and artistic home goods, art, clothes, jewelry. Strong focus on local. They also have a well-decorated patio with a charming cafe.
Vernacula // Local Peruvian Accessories, Cute Bags, lots of Vintage goods, Unique Bikinis
Planteique // The cutest plant boutique in existence. Tons of happy terrariums as well as other artsy, local goods.
La Zapateria // Handmade shoes. Original designs. Customizable. Made with Recycled Materials.