Peru is the homeland of one of our favourite fictional characters, Paddington Bear – though thankfully its cuisine has a lot more going for it than just marmalade sandwiches. In fact the food of Peru is arguably some of the most diverse in all of South America having been influenced by colonisers and immigrants from around the globe. The Spanish, Italians and Germans from Europe; the Japanese and Chinese from Asia and even natives of West Africa have all left their mark on the country's gastronomy, resulting in one of the finest examples of fusion food in the world. Of course, much of Peruvian food has also been influenced by the indigenous population, perhaps most notably the Inca people, and any dishes from overseas have been significantly modified according to the produce available. Staple ingredients in the Peruvian diet include corn, quinoa, chilli peppers, legumes, and the widest variety of potatoes in the world.
Fish and seafood are the main sources of protein along the coast while in the valleys and plains of the Andes mountains alpaca and guinea pig meat is widely consumed. The most famous delicacy from Peru, which is now a celebrated dish served around the world, is ceviche; raw fish marinated in citrus juice and typically spiced with red onion aji pepper and often served with sweet potato or white corn. The juice that remains once the fish has been removed is known as leche de tigre - “tiger’s milk” - and is often downed in a shot glass or blended with Peru’s national drink, pisco.
Best Peruvian restaurants in London
Over the last few years the capital has seen a surge of Peruvian restaurants popping up to offer a taste of this lesser known cuisine, and Londoners have welcomed them with open arms. Punchy flavours, pisco sours and party vibes all round – the Peruvians certainly know how to have a good time! Here are the best Peruvian restaurants in London for you to peru-se.
What: Even on a gloomy day, it’ll feel like summer in this perky Peruvian, which was one of the frontrunners in bringing the cuisine to the capital. Ceviche’s winningly cheerful service, razor-sharp flavours and punchy pisco sours attract a whole melange of Soho diners. Don’t miss the signature ceviche which is made right in front of the diners so it’s as fresh as can be!
Where: 17 Frith Street, W1D 4RG
What: This miniature maelstrom of colour, flavour and sound housed in buzzy Kingly Court is one of London’s more accessible Peruvian restaurants. Senor Ceviche’s main event is, of course, the ceviche list, which runs from sea bass via octopus and sweet potato purée to a veggie variant involving barbecued artichoke. The Pachamanca pork ribs are also fantastic!
Where: Kingly Court, W1B 5PW
What: Whether you're in for breakfast, a light lunch or dinner, you can expect zingy flavours galore from Shoreditch’s Andina. The tangy scallop tiradito and sea bass ceviche are a must, whetting your appetite for a host of street-food small plates, juicy grilled meats and hearty peasant classics. It’s healthy, fresh and fun with an authentic touch of contemporary Peruvian creativity.
Where: 1 Redchurch Street, E2 7DJ
What: The second site from team behind Marylebone’s hit South American joint, Pachamama, Chicama is a seafood-led take on their popular Peruvian-style cooking on the King’s Road. The meat-free menu is based on the daily catch from Cornish day-boats, souped-up by coastal Peruvian flavours and the drinks list comprises South American-inspired wines and cocktails which match perfectly with the Sloaney neighbourhood.
Where: 383 King's Road, SW10 0LP
Coya Angel Court
What: Softer acoustics make for a more-relaxed mood than at the ear-splitting original on Piccadilly, but otherwise the formula at Coya Angel Court is pretty much the same: a bar serving lethal cocktails, a dining room decorated in a colour-supplement approximation of South American chic, and a menu of small sharing plates that ticks off the continent’s culinary greatest hits: ceviche and steak, tacos and tiraditos.
Where: 31-33 Throgmorton Street, EC2N 2AT
What: Pachamama, which translates as mother Earth, is a buzzing subterranean spot bringing Andean flavours to Marylebone with a pick and mix menu divided between ‘land’, ‘sea’ and ‘soil’. The kitchen knows how to present its food, with plates brimming over with bold colour and at the weekend DJs and a clutch of pisco cocktails make this a hip, fun night out.
Where: 18 Thayer Street, W1U 3JY
What: As we state in our review “forget the hot barometer of Peruvian food, Lima is one of the few restaurants in London making the unfamiliar utterly delicious”. Indeed don’t be off-put by the rather baffling menu, each dish will have you scraping the plate. In particular don’t miss the pressed suckling pig and the bizarre but brilliant avocado cream and chocolate mousse dessert.
Where: 31 Rathbone Place, W1T 1JH
Floral by Lima
What: More affordable than its sister in Fitzrovia, Floral by Lima boasts an extensive menu of unusual indigenous ingredients that are sure to appeal to the adventurous palate. We recommend the sea bream ceviche, bathed in a vibrant ginger and citrusy tiger’s milk, and topped with cassava and crispy corn. Instagrammer or not we guarantee each beautiful dish will have you reaching for your camera.
Where: 14 Garrick Street, WC2E 9BJ
What: This large and lively two-floor restaurant in Soho champions Nikkei cuisine – a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian, with colourful platters of fanned-out sushi to match an equally colourful decor. Light hearted and fun Chotto Matte is a great place to come with a group of friends for sharing plates and an eclectic selection of cocktails.
Where: 11-13 Frith Street, W1D 4RB
What: This “little house” in London’s West End is big on colour, flavour and nutritious ingredients with a predominantly gluten-free menu. The upstairs restaurant at Casita Andina is a cosy and intimate spot for dinner with a cute outdoor patio for warmer nights. Alternatively, downstairs the counter is perfect for a quick healthy bite for lunch and the ceviche bar serves up an exemplary selection of pisco sours as well as some more experimental cocktails.
Where: 31 Great Windmill Street, W1D 7LP
Can't get enough of raw fish? Here's where to find the best poke in London