La Mar Cebichería in Lima, Peru.
Pilar Olivares

Gourmet Lima: 7 Ways to Eat Better in Peru's Capital

The last decade has seen an explosion of worldwide interest in Peruvian cuisine, and Lima is now recognized as the gastronomic capital of South America. The city is suddenly a foodie destination, with travelers planning trips here just to eat.

Limeño cuisine is all about the fusion of different cultures and amazing ingredients: seafood from rich fishing grounds in the Pacific; spicy Creole dishes, both European- and Afro-influenced; Nikkei, or 2nd-generation Japanese; and Chinese-Peruvian fusion, served at ubiquitous chifa restaurants.

Photo Caption: La Mar Cebichería in Lima, Peru.
Mercado de Surquillo in Lima, Peru.
Shopping at Mercado de Surquillo
This famed, scruffy food market at the edge of the tony Miraflores district is the place to see Peru's incredible food bounty. You may even run into a famous chef haggling next to the local house-wives and cooks. You'll find colorful, spicy ajíes (chili peppers); dark purple corn; exotic Amazonian tropical fruits; countless varieties and colors of papas (potatoes); giant-kernel yellow choclo (maize); and, of course, amazing fresh seafood, meats, and other produce.

Details: Avenida Paseo de la Republica at Ricardo Palma, Miraflores/Surquillo

Photo Caption: Mercado de Surquillo in Lima, Peru.
Fresh fruit juice in Lima, Peru.
Tropical Fruit Juices at Las Delicias
Limeños aren't really that big on breakfast, but one place they do love early in the morning is a good juguería (juice bar). This standout serves the best tropical fruit juices (nearly 100 varieties) in the city, as well as pastries and baked goods. Try a mixed fruit juice such as passion fruit with cactus fruit or mandarin orange. Jr.

Details: Ignacio Merino 505, Miraflores; tel. 01/422-8798. Items S/7-S/15. No credit cards. Sun-Thurs 8am-10pm; Fri 8am-6pm; Sat 6am-10pm.

Photo Caption: Fresh fruit juice in Lima, Peru.
Ceviche at Segundo Muelle in Lima, Peru.
Pilar Olivares
Ceviche-Hopping Across Town
Lima's signature dish is ceviche, which Limeños eat only at midday (because of the high acidity). So why not do a bit of ceviche-hopping for lunch? You can also mix in tiraditos (thinly sliced, raw, marinated fish) and other seafood specialties. If you're going to hit two or three joints in Miraflores, start right at noon or even a bit earlier. La Red is a local favorite for its large portions and low prices. For a taste of the most innovative and fashionable takes on ceviche, drop into trendsetting La Mar Cebichería or buzzed-about El Mercado, where you can get newfangled interpretations of seafood dishes in cool modern surroundings.

Details: More about ceviche in Lima

Photo Caption: Ceviche at Segundo Muelle in Lima, Peru.
Alfajores and other desserts at T'anta in Lima, Peru.
Pilar Olivares
Tasting Traditional Sweets
Peruvians are famous for their sweet tooth, and Maga Mis Suspiros -- a terrific, tiny place in a former garage -- is all about omemade desserts. Its arroz con leche (rice with milk), crocante de luicuma (fruit ice cream), alfajores (filled cookies), tres leches (three milk) cake, and maracuyá (passion fruit) pie may put you in sugar overload.

Details: Av. Benavides 1113 (btw. Av. Paseo de la República and Av. Republica de Panamá), Miraflores. tel. 01/243-3140; Items S/3-S/8. MC, V. Daily 10am-8pm.

Photo Caption: Alfajores and other desserts at T'anta in Lima, Peru.
Antigua Taberna Queirolo in Lima, Peru
The Classics at Antigua Taberna Queirolo
This atmospheric pisco bar and winery is one of the oldest in Peru, now into its second century. Sit at the long, marble-topped bar and taste one of the piscos while imbibing the genuine 19th-century ambience. There are good piqueos (snacks) and more substantial Peruvian specialties such as rocoto relleno (stuffed hot pepper) if you need something to go with your pisco cocktail.

Details: Av. San Martín 1090 (at Av. Vivanco), Pueblo Libre; tel. 01/460-0441; Items S/9-S/24. No credit cards. Mon-Wed 9:30am-11pm; Thurs-Sat 9:30am-midnight; Sun 9:30am-4pm.

Photo Caption: Antigua Taberna Queirolo in Lima, Peru
Congrio colorado at Astrid y Gastón in Lima, Peru.
Haute Gastronomy at Astrid y Gastón
For dinner, your gourmet choices are endless, but it probably makes sense to go to the place that jumpstarted the Lima gastronomic scene: the first restaurant of Gastón Acurio, the face of Peruvian cuisine, who has gone on to star in cooking shows and found an international restaurant empire

Acurio's take on Limeño classics remains the standard-bearer, and although some say this warmly stylish place has slipped a notch, it remains one of the top restaurants in Peru.

Details: Cantuarias 175, Lima; tel. 01/242-4422; Items S/38-S/79. E, DC, MC, V. Mon-Sat 12:30-3:30pm and 7:30pm-midnight.

Photo Caption: Congrio colorado at Astrid y Gastón in Lima, Peru.
Bar Huaringas in Lima, Peru.
Finishing at Bar Huaringas
For a nightcap and the most celebrated pisco sour in the city, make a stop at this elegant bar, upstairs from the restaurant Brujas de Cachique. The list of piscos is impressive, and the mixologists pour perfect variations of a pisco sour, beginning with a coca or maracuyá sour.

Details: Jr. Bolognesi 460, Lima; tel. 01/447-1883.

Photo Caption: Enjoying a pisco sour at Bar Huaringas in Lima, Peru.