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Easygoing restaurants in Iquitos are a good place to sample dishes straight out of the Amazon, such as paiche (Amazon river fish), hearts of palm salad, and juanes (rice tamales made with minced chicken, pork, or fish, prepared with black olives and egg and wrapped in bijao leaves). Although protected species are not supposed to appear on menus, they often do. You might want to think twice before encouraging restaurateurs by ordering turtle-meat soup or alligator. If you venture into the Belén market, be prepared for even more exotic foodstuffs, such as monkey and lizard meat.

Amazonian Delicacies -- Throughout South America, the Amazon region is famed for its exotic fruits. In Iquitos, check out stands around the Plaza de Armas for natural fruit juices and ice creams made from stuff hard to get at home, such as aguaje, maracuyá, and cocona.

Chifas in Iquitos -- To some observers, there's something distinctly Asian-feeling about hot, humid, and motorcycle-crazed Iquitos. Waves of Chinese immigrants came as laborers to Iquitos throughout the 20th century, which is the biggest reason there are so many chifas (Peruvian-Chinese restaurants) in town. Eating Chinese food at the edge of the Amazon instead of exotic jungle fruits and fish might not be your first impulse in Iquitos, but chifas are plentiful and reasonably priced -- perfect fallback dining options. Try Wai Ming, San Martín 464 at Plaza 28 de Julio (tel. 065/234-391); Chifa Chong, Huallaga 165 (no phone); Hueng Teng, Nauta at Pucallpa (no phone); and Chifa Can Chau, Huallaga 173 (no phone). Other chifas, cheaper still, line Avenida Grau, near Plaza 28 de Julio.


Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.