Personally, I enjoy food when travelling abroad and with a stay of nearly a week in Cusco and Urubamba, I was slightly dubious on the type of food that would be available. However I was surprised at the quality of the food in both Cusco and Urubamba. This post will detail some of the restaurants and dishes we sampled at both towns.
La Feria in Cusco
Our first proper meal in Cusco was at La Feria which is located at the corner of Plaza Mayor. A benefit of dining here is that diners can be seated by the balcony with a view of Plaza Mayor with the Cathedral and other monuments around it.
To start, we both ordered drinks and went for local specialties, with one order of the purple corn (chicha morada) and passion fruit (maracuya) juice. Both were sweet drinks that was refreshing at the same time.
After our orders were taken, the server brought out some salsa and chilli sauce that was meant to be for dips.
Next came our shared appetizers and soup. We had ordered bell peppers stuffed with cheese which hits all the right spot in terms of spiciness and great cheese. There was also the quinoa soup which was somewhat lacking in terms of taste and presentation.
For the main course, I had ordered the anticucho de alpaca, basically a skewer of alpaca fillet that has a fried tapioca at the tip and served with a corn slaw topped with yellow pepper sauce. The alpaca meat was grilled nicely but it was not as tender as I would like it.
My wife ordered the chicken stew which was slightly spicy and served hot on a claypot bowl. This made for a very hearty meal in the cold weather in Cusco.
The stew came with local bread that was great to finish off the wonderful stew.
La Feria is a nice place situated in one corner of Plaza Mayor that makes it a great place for lunch or dinner. During our visit, we were one of the few diners inside since the food can be quite expensive for locals though they were pretty in line with many of the restaurants in Cusco for travellers.
Casa Colonial at Urubamba, Peru
In Urubamba, we walked to the Plaza de Armas which is the town centre and went to Casa Colonial for dinner. The walk took about 8=10 minutes from Tambo del Inka. The main dining hall is located on the second floor of the restaurant and the windows have great views of Plaza de Armas.
Dinner service started with bread and herb butter along with some salt on the side. There was also rice crackers served alongside the bread.
For dinner we shared a corn soup with cream and a dish of crispy pork belly since we were not very hungry and just wanted a light meal. The soup was served warm and topped with cream. Presentation and taste was great for a cool night.
The crispy pork belly dish was not that crispy but the pork was tender and succulent. It was served with flavourful gnocchi that made the whole dish filling. Seasonal vegetables of baby carrots and corn accompanied the dish. Similarly the presentation of the dish was beautiful and the cost for the meal was cheaper than that in Cusco.
Pachapapa in San Blas, Cusco
On my last night in Cusco, we had dinner in Pachapapa, one of the well recommended restaurants located across from the church in San Blas. Diners have the option of dining indoors or at the central courtyard and observe the kitchen in action. The wood fired oven in the courtyard as we passed it was certainly a feature in itself.
For drinks, my wife ordered a warm herbal tea while I had the chicha morada again. Similarly to the one served in La Feria, the juice here is sweetened as well.
After our orders were taken, we were served with bread that came with salsa dips, with one being a green relish that is not so spicy and a spicy red chilli sauce.
For dinner, my wife had a potato soup that was topped with local corn kernels. This gave the soup some texture and added a crunch factor, making it more memorable.
Meanwhile, I ordered a local specialty of cuy or guinea pig which was roasted whole and shown to diners who ordered this dish for a photo shoot. Do note that it can take up to 30-40 minutes for this dish to be served as it takes time to roast it well in the wood fired oven that they have.
After the whole roasted guinea pig was presented, the dish was taken back to the kitchen to be carved then re-presented to diners with side dishes of some salad, stuffed chilli and some potatoes. As my first time eating this dish, I enjoyed it since the meat was tender and tasted a bit like roast pigeon in Chinese cuisine. The highlight though was the skin that was roasted to a crisp like suckling pig. That made this dish immensely enjoyable and I definitely recommend anyone visiting Cusco to try this dish.
My dining experience in Cusco and Urubamba certainly exceeds my expectations and there was truly great restaurants to try while in the area. The abundance of fresh produce like corn and local potatoes made it easy to create hearty soups and stews while cheaper meats like alpaca and guinea pigs make for unique dining experiences.