Calle Santa Catalina 210 inside 105
Tel: (51) (54) 287360
Gaston Acurio is one of the premier chefs in the world and is credited for helping bring Peruvian cuisine into the modern era. His famous restaurant is La Mar in the Miraflores section of Lima, where we tried to have a holiday dinner. Regrettably, that restaurant was closed for the entire week we were there which was definitely a bit of a disappointment considering pretty much everyone and their mother recommended it.
So when we arrived in Arequipa, much to our delight we discovered that one of his other restaurants was open. It wasn’t the flagship venue, but the folks at our hostel said it was excellent regardless. This place would easily turn out to be the best meal we had in Peru (in my opinion) – and the worst, in a way, as it ended in a bit of a disaster unfortunately.
We made our way over to ChiCha (it was only a few blocks from our hostel) and we could tell immediately that our dining experience here would be a cut above the norm. The restaurant’s ambiance has a relaxing courtyard feel, with a smart casual dress code and a friendly staff.
The meals there are pricy, but won’t break the bank. I’d consider it one of those “let’s have a nice dinner tonight” treat after all the hiking and street cuy you eat. After the pisco tasting in Cusco, I was more than happy to try a few more pisco drinks on their extensive pisco menu.
The lomo saltado that my sister ordered was the best one I had in Peru, perfectly seasoned, juicy, with just the right amount of char on the outside. Mom ordered an alpaca curry that was a little more unique, but worked really well with the quinoa side that came with it. I ordered an amazingly tasty dish as well, the pork stew. The stew is definitely one of those comfort foods you have when you’re famished – hearty, warm, and even comes with a bib because it is a bit messy. But it got really messy when I made one of the bigger mistakes of my life. The stew came with (I looked it up after the fact) a fiery rocotto pepper. This baby was easily the hottest thing I’ve ever eaten, and not thinking first, I took a giant bite out of it. My body shutdown. The burn was intense. After about 10 minutes of heavy breathing and 4 glasses of water it calmed down a bit, but I legitimately struggled to finish my meal.
Despite the dracarys (Hi Game of Thrones fans) attack on my innards, the stew was actually really, really good. But as I alluded to earlier, a bit of a disaster struck because of the meal – and I don’t mean the heat from the pepper. Shortly after dinner, I fell victim to my first case of what we think was food poisoning. We’re pretty sure it was from the pepper, since it was the only thing that I had eaten that my Mom and Sister didn’t try. So that rocotto was just the gift that kept on giving for the next few days…
I’ll leave you with this tip: Whenever you travel – be sure to have or have quick access to Pepto Bismol. It really saved me for the next part of the trip.