What to eat in Cusco?
It’s not a secret that Perú is becoming more popular as each day goes by. The architecture, amazing museums, archeological remains, friendly people. And one aspect you can’t leave aside when you visit, is food! Perú is transforming into a gastronomical treasure: more and more tourists make sure to dedicate some of their time to try the best dishes available.
Particularly, Cusco has a great menu, and we’re going to go through some of your options in this selection of “what to eat in Cusco”. We are not responsible if you toss your trekking plans aside and make your trip a full culinary experience!
Cuy Chactado (fried guinea pig)
Many people find the flavour of the guinea pig similar to chicken, rabbit, or well…just something in between. This is a low fat meat, high on proteins and iron, so for those looking for a healthy meal this is a good choice. The guinea pig is considered a great nutritional source over there, so maybe think about it twice if you had one of them as a pet growing up, because most restaurants serve the full animal in display. The cuy can be baked (“Cuy al Horno”) or fried (“Cuy chactado”). It’s normally served with fries, rice, salad or rocoto.
In Quechua, this means “cold spice” or “cold pepper”, and it’s considered one of the most traditional dishes to try in Cusco. Associated with the Corpus Christi festive season, and also with the festival of Inti Raymi, it’s quite typical to see it around in May or June, but it’s not impossible to find during the rest of the year. This cold dish is prepared with cheese, peppers, corn, guinea pig, sausage, chicken, rocoto, among other ingredients representing different parts of the country. Basically, an amazing variety of things to try from one single dish so it’s an interesting starting point for your list of what to eat in Cusco!
Rocoto is a type of pepper, that in its raw state is way stronger than others, such as jalapeños or tabasco. The rocotos are cooked so that they’re not drop-dead spicy, and they’re served with a delicious stuffing than can be prepared with a mixture of minced beef, onions, garlic, cheese, cream, tomato sauce, even wine. Originally a typical delicacy from Arequipa, it’s also very popular in Cusco, you’ll find this as a starter, a side and also a main dish, served with salad or potatoes. If you want to learn more about Arequipa, check out this article.
Chicharrón (fried pork)
One of the most popular dishes to try around Cusco. Pieces of pork meat cooked slowly in its own fat (this creates a unique taste!), accompanied with fries, beans and pepper, or with a side of salad. It’s typically served with a sauce made of coriander, onion and lemon. Sometimes you can even find it served as a sandwich.
A refreshing bean salad served with milk, eggs and cheese, usually with a side of rice, it’s a great vegetarian-friendly option to try during your trip. There’s also the alternate version of Mushroom Kapchi, mostly found during the winter, served with hot chile and potatoes.
Feeling cold? This typical farmer’s meal is what you need then. This delicious soup has a name with origin in Quechua: “chairo” means “type of food”. It contains peas, carrots, beans, parsley, meat (normally dehydrated beef or lamb), and the base ingredient: chuño, a freeze-dried potato.
Another way to warm up is check out the many things you can do in Cusco here, and some amazing day trips here.
Also spelled Cebiche, this signature dish is a distinctive trait of Perú and one of the most famous internationally, so we didn’t want to cut it out it this short list. Ceviche basically consists of raw fish marinated in citrus, usually we’re talking about sea bass and lime juice. Some of the typical ingredients you’ll see served in this mix are tomatoes, onions, hot chiles, croutons, or beans. There are as many recipes and combinations as you can imagine, so the fish used in this great protein source can also vary a lot depending on where you are.
Interested about ceviche’s history? Find out more about it here.
So, that’s all, and we really hope you enjoyed our recommendations for what to eat in Cusco!