By Tammy Leland, Crooked Trails Co-founder and International Program Director
It has been nearly two and a half years since I have travelled to Peru, my beloved second home, and every time I go back I fall in love again. There is a world of discoveries to be made and I just want to share a few of my new favorites.
SEAFOOD IN LIMA!
As many of you know, as a Montana girl, I was not very fond of seafood before I went to Peru. A good friend, a Peruvian Chef, turned me on to great seafood and I have never looked back. I am sure many of you will remember me saying, “Spend a day in Lima and go to La Mar in Miraflores for the best Peruvian seafood experience in town.” While it is still a favorite, I have to let you in on a little local secret that I have rediscovered in Barranco, Lima’s bohemian neighborhood.
La Canta Rana (The Singing Frog)
Genova 101, Barranco, Lima, Peru
La Canta Rana is a gem for Peruvian seafood. Owned by Vicente Furgiuele, an Argentine who has lived in Peru for years, La Canta Rana is that local hangout that makes you feel like you are in the know.
Among their signature dishes: calamari in a prawn and cheese sauce, seafood tacu tacu, grilled young octopus, shrimp or fish in garlic sauce, and different types of ceviches.
Aside from their mouth-watering food, the atmosphere is truly festive. The walls are filled with memorabilia from soccer teams and famous visitors and the staff and owner are full of joy! On my last visit we popped in to eat ceviche, drink the best pisco sours in town and watch the finals of the Euro Cup. Despite Peru’s history with the conquistadors, we were all rooting for Spain.
You can find this hidden gem behind the police station, la Comisaría de Barranco, at the 500 block of Avenida Grau, entering via Colina, as you go towards the sea. Don’t be a snob expecting the New York Times best restaurant list, this is truly for those who like to experience rich culture and great food!
THE BEST LOCAL PERUVIAN COFFEE
When I first heard from friends that Starbucks had opened a new coffee shop on the plaza in my old stomping ground in Lima, I was horrified. I love to visit Peru and see the local culture and now I was going to see my hometown coffee company right there on my plaza. When I first arrived I couldn’t find it and wondered if my Peruvian friends were pulling my leg. But as I walked toward the famous Puente de los Suspiros (the Bridge of Sighs), there it was. I was very happy to see how subtle their sign was and how respectful of the culture they were.
However, in my never-ending passion to continue supporting local services, I was introduced by my old roomie to a wonderful new coffee shop on the same side of the plaza.
La Tostaduría Bisetti
Av. Pedro de Osma 116, Barranco.
David Torres, one of the owners, immediately greeted us at the door. His family has owned Bisetti Coffee for over 50 years. David and his girlfriend Hannah are dedicated to supporting local coffee farmers by working directly with producers, raising awareness of where their products come from and providing their customers with THE BEST coffee experience.
It was fun tasting coffee from around Peru,and they also have a lab where we watched the daily toasting of the best and organic beans Peru has to offer. Several of my old friends from Peru stepped through the door as I hung out there! It was like being home again.
NEW PISCO MUSEUM IN CUSCO
I connected again with my good friend Adam Weintraub who is now living with his wife in Cusco. When I met with him in June he was in the process of opening his new Pisco Museum.
Not only will you find a great display of pisco from all over Peru and the history of this great spirit, but the tapas are to die for as well.
Pop in to learn and little about pisco’s history and forget all your troubles after a few samples.
Museo del Pisco
Santa Catalina Ancha 398 (at the corner with Calle San Agustin, next to the new Marriott)
TRAVELING WITH KIDS TO PERU? A CLUB FOR KIDS IN CUSCO
This is one of my new favorites in Cusco and a one of a kind find. As a mother traveling with a 3 year old child in Peru, this is a gem.
I was invited to visit Chiquity Club Cusco by my good friend Ximara and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I arrived. This was a kids club, daycare and learning center better than anything I had encountered in the US. For 15 soles you could come with your child all day and for an additional 5 soles an hour, you can have a private nanny watch you child.
I had a bunch of work to do so I hired the nanny and sat in the lounge using the free internet while Ashton played in a giant sandbox, went rock climbing, learned the drums, jumped in the playhouse and discover jungle animals. What a treat for parents who need a little free time.
Chiquity Club Cusco
Calle Marques 259
OLD TIME FAVORITE BAR IN HUARAZ BREWS ITS OWN BEER
One of the first things I do when I arrive to Huaraz, high in the central Andes, is check into my dear friend Zarela’s guesthouse, La Casa de Zarela, and then go to Trece Buhos to see my good friend Lucho!
After settling in to my room and getting a good rest after an 8 hour overnight bus ride, I headed to Lucho’s only to find that it was closed. I was devastated. Where had he gone with my favorite watering hole? Asking around I heard he was opening a new café and bar in the Plaza de Guias and off I went to find it.
His new place, Trece Buhos, is luxurious compared to the old dingy bar. It had local artwork on the walls, a long inviting bar and comfortable couches scattered along the mirrored walls.
It was beautiful but the best part of all was Lucho’s new beers. The first artisanal beers have arrived to the Andes. His specialties: a blonde, red and black. Seems Lucho hasn’t changed at all! He still likes a variety of flavors.
13 Buhos Bar
Jose de la Mar & Simon Bolivar, Huaraz
A HIDDEN GEM OUTSIDE OF AREQUIPA
Most people travel to Arequipa and then head straight to the Colca Canyon, usually to experience about the same trip to the canyon that everyone who visits gets.
Not me! I jump a local bus and head to the Majes River Valley to see my good friend Julio Zuniga and his wife Durby!
Every year I go back it is a treat – too much to do and too much fun! Imagine a valley full of river rafting, 20,000 pre-Inca tombs, 6000 petroglyphs, dinosaur footprints, witches villages and 500 year old pisco bodegas! It doesn’t get better than this for an off the beaten path visit to the past. AND you have Julio as your guide. He has lived in the valley his whole life as a pisco and wine maker and some know him as a once famous matador. You can see posters of him in his matador outfit in his Museo de Matadores!
Majes River Lodge
Cell: 51-54-958250220 or 51-54-959797731
Valle de Majes, La Central – Ongoro
Arequipa – Peru
Do you have your own local Peruvian favorites? Share them with us in the comments!
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