It's hard to imagine that Peruvian megastar chef Gastón Acurio would open restaurants in Madrid and San Francisco before he made the short hop from Lima to Cusco. He's finally here, though, and like most of his other restaurants, ChiCha is consistent, high in quality, and a great value. It's really hard to go wrong in this two-room space, flanked on each side by the open kitchen and the bar. The menu pays tribute to regional cuisine, albeit gussied up in the way that only Acurio knows. There are regional classics, like adobo de cerdo, where chunks of pork are cooked in a rich sauce of chicha, ají peppers, and spices. There's ceviche made with trout and tarwi, a super-nutritious bean-like seed. There are even international dishes touched with local ingredients, like pizza with alpaca carpaccio, cooked in a wood-fired oven. Another standout is pita stuffed with lamb, served with a muña cucumber sauce and uchucuta, the local chile blend. Also like Acurio's other restaurants, ChiCha has a long list of original cocktails, mostly involving pisco.
- Nicholas Gill