Lima is known for its grey skies and rich culinary experiences – and it also delivers exceptional design. From the hipster Barranco neighbourhood to the upscale Miraflores district, the city’s restaurant scene is exquisite for the taste buds and a feast for the eye with its mix of colonial architecture, concrete and wood.
Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pía León’s flagship restaurant, Central, is a homage to Peru in every way. The husband and wife duo worked with Estudio Rafael Freyre to develop its contemporary architecture, reviving traditional techniques and materials from the diverse ecosystems of Peru. Originally an old house, they transformed the Barranco building into a space where different objects and times coexist.
Central’s menu celebrates the Peruvian landscape, history and traditions of their land by using locally sourced ingredients. Its focus is on the tasting menu, offering the finest foods from land and sea – and maintaining continuity between architecture and the landscape. Central recently ranked number four on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Upstairs from world-famous Central, co-chef Pia León has opened her own dining spot. Kjolle is more relaxed than its sister restaurant, but it still delivers a fine-dining experience, pairing Peruvian ingredients with modern techniques. Waiters serve dishes while showcasing their raw ingredients at its tables, such as black mashwa (Andean tuber) and other local gems from the coast, Amazon and Andes. Kjolle’s design concept also stems from the relationship between architecture and nature. Estudio Rafael Freyre’s interiors tell a tale of simplicity through subtle colours and textures; pine wood for the false ceiling and cream-coloured Ayacuchan onyx for the bar. The space comes to life via natural elements and artisanally crafted pieces.
Venezuelan chefs Juan Luis Martínez and José Luis Saume pay tribute to their roots while innovating with Peruvian ingredients at Merito, creating dishes like yucca quesadillas and scallops with ñame (yam).
Local studios Ghezzi Novak and Blanco designed the Barranco restaurant, whose natural materials reflect the authenticity of the food. The small space was stripped to reveal its original walls lined with adobe bricks – a traditional material made from mud. On the first floor, an island with a stone countertop is shared by kitchen staff and diners perched on wooden stools. A more traditional dining area upstairs has wooden tables of various sizes. Both levels have subtle, moody lighting and warm tones for an inviting ambience.
Amid the tightly-packed garage shops and clusters of adobe homes in Miraflores is Rafael Osterling’s El Mercado.
Practice OZ Arq designed the Lima restaurant as a mix of public and private spaces, with a semi-open patio at its heart, enclosed by a steel frame grid that is ‘filled in’ with concrete blocks in sections to create a protected dining area and back office. The recycled wood facade offers privacy for diners who can enjoy an extensive menu of ceviches, tiraditos and must-have Parmesan scallops.
Astrid y Gaston
Located inside the grand Casa Moreyra in San Isidro, Astrid y Gaston is the flagship restaurant of Peruvian celebrity chef Gaston Acurio and is named for him and his wife. The eatery won the top spot in South America’s 50 Best Restaurant list in 2013, and it’s still a go-to for foodies in the city nearly a decade on.
Diners are greeted with impressive grand steps, archways and white columns that lead into the 300-year-old former plantation house. Depending on the experience the diner is seeking, Astrid y Gaston offers a variety of spaces to eat in; a minimalist salon with high ceilings, dark blue tones and mosaic tiling, a patio with an adjoining kitchen garden, or the more exclusive Cielo, with high ceilings and skylights, for special occasions.