I’m going to say something you probably already know: Argentines are fanatical about almost everything. Soccer is the obvious example, but you can also add Peruvian food to that list thanks to the recent trend of the past few years. With more than 200 restaurants serving the cuisine, Buenos Aires ranks second in the world (after Lima, of course).
There are eateries for all tastes. There are those tucked away in the Abasto neighborhood, frequented by Peruvians and that have huge paintings of Machu Picchu on the walls. Then, there’s the mid-range spots, located downtown or around Congreso. And finally, there are those that require you to pull out all the stops and break the piggy bank.
“In 2015, we did a survey of the number of restaurants in the city and [counted] about 200,” says Paloma Oliver, an anthropologist and one of the authors of the book De la nostalgia al orgullo. Los caminos de la cocina peruana en Buenos Aires. “Today, porteños know more about Peruvian cuisine than they did ten years ago. Peruvian restaurants were able to diversify and say that they cooked dishes from the [Amazonian] jungle. There are some restaurants that only deliver. That was unthinkable a few years ago.”
Chef Anthony Vásquez of La Mar believes we are barely scratching the surface when it comes to knowing everything about Peruvian food. “In Peru there are different types of cuisine. There’s the northern cuisine, which has to do with the coast. The food from the central region has slow-cooked stews and is very vegetarian. Finally, there are the options from the jungle, with fish from the Amazon river. The dishes from Lima were the first that arrived to Buenos Aires. Slowly, people will understand the complexity and richness of Peruvian food.”
The Bubble has curated a small guide to Peruvian flavors that will allow you to taste your way through such a wonderful country.
Status: The Congreso Classic
A good – and cheap – circuit around the Congreso area could look something like this: a nice Argentine movie at the Gaumont cinema and then dinner at Status. The restaurant was a pioneer in Peruvian cuisine beyond the borders of the Abasto area, where Peruvian immigrants tend to live and work. The menu? Nothing too complicated: dried meat, dried lamb, cebiche and delicious chicharrón, but that can could be enough to keep you full for a whole week. The jewel of the crown might just be their Suspiro Limeño, a dessert that makes the restaurant visit entirely worth it – honestly. Good food and you don’t need to ask the IMF for a loan to pay for it.
Status | Viceroy Cevallos 178 | Facebook
Quechua: Cheap & Cheerful
Located in the heart of Abasto, amidst most of the popular Peruvian restaurants, Quechua has still managed to find its own style. The manager and owner, Julio Marín, has experience: he worked at Rosa Naútica, one of the biggest and most traditional restaurants in Lima which also had a branch in Puerto Madero for some time. If you go out and only have AR $300 in your pocket, you have to order a tasting of Julio’s cebiches. The rice with duck is also quite the savory treat, for sure. The ambiance of this little neighborhood spot? Simple enough, but you can take a friend and look like quite the foodie connoisseur in the process.
Quechua | Pasaje Carlos Gardel 3163 | Facebook
La Mar: Hey, Big Spender!
Lima, San Francisco, Santiago de Chile, Bogotá, Miami, Sao Paulo, and Buenos Aires. All these cities have a branch of La Mar, the Peruvian restaurant of Gastón Acurio, the Messi of Peruvian cuisine. Acurio is such a famous personality in his country that he has even been mentioned as a possible candidate for the presidency in the past. The place is a true oasis in Palermo Hollywood. During the warmer months, you can enjoy the leafy patio with trees more than 100 years old. As you wait to be seated, for lunch or dinner – and you’ll almost always have to wait – the place offers a bar with cocktails. The menu is a glory for the senses: cebiches, lobster, scallops, and leche de tigre. Want a whole fish brought to your table? No problem, there are dozens of options from the nearest Atlantic ports at your disposal. This does all come with a hefty price tag, however. But few will disagree that it might just be the belle of the ball when talking about Peruvian cuisine in Argentina.
La Mar | Arévalo 2024 | Web
La Causa Nikkei: Peruvian-Japanese Fusion
We continue in Palermo – the mecca of restaurants – and this time with a creation from young Argentine entrepreneurs, who previously created projects such as Sushipop and Izakaya. I know, you probably thought that enterprising porteños only set up craft breweries, go figure. The menu proposes a fusion of classic Peruvian recipes with Japanese cuisine. The dishes are colorful – you’ll have good photos for your Instagram – and affordable prices in a setting ideal for going with friends or family. Want a recommendation? Try the tabla de piqueos for AR $400.
La Causa Nikkei | Cerviño 3550 | Web
Casa SaltShaker: Closed-Door Magic
It is not just a puerta cerrada, but also the highest-rated by TripAdvisor in the “Peruvian Restaurants” category. At Casa SaltShaker, the hosts are the American chef Dan Perlman and Peruvian anthropologist Henry Tapia. The tables are communal; you share the space with strangers which, from experience, can be either great or a nightmare. Having a good time depends on the group you’re lucky enough to have. Fortunately, Dan and Henry do just about everything at their disposal to make each gathering a special one. Fish steamed with spicy tomato sauce and solterito of prawns and potatoes are some of their unique dishes. The five-course menu is worth US $80 and must be booked in advance.
Casa SaltShaker | Address provided upon reservation | Facebook