If you already read the ‘About us’ section, you might have noticed that we are from Belgium. A country known for chocolates, Belgian waffles, beer and other delicious stuff to eat and drink. As true Belgians, we do enjoy great food and a drink from time to time. And Arequipa seemed to be the perfect place to indulge us in this topic. The city is not only home to beautiful colonial buildings, but hosts some perfect places to eat and drink as well. In this post, we give you our top 5 things to do in Arequipa for foodies.
Chicha por Gaston Acurio
Arequipa is home to beautiful buildings, and “CHICHA por Gaston Acurio” is located in one of these. On the opposite of the colorful monastery in Santa Catalina you can find fine dining in a very atmospheric setting. The building dates back from the 17th century and has a very charming feel to it. The restaurant is known for using local products, combined with excellent cooking skills. Although there are several spaces with elegant tables, we especially loved the main area, where terracotta colors and plants decorate the walls and a large table in the center gives the room a very familiar touch. The menu is both in English and Spanish. If however you have any questions on the menu, the attentive waiters are very helpful. There are different plates that are for sharing, and they make an excellent starter. We loved the ‘Pique de Picanteria’, a typical dish of Arequipa. Don’t make the mistake to order too much food as a starter because the portions of the main dish are very royal. From the main area, you can observe the cooking skills of the cooks in the kitchen, and the main dishes proved that their cooking skills are top notch. The ossobuco was one of the most tender portions of meat we ever had. And for dessert, order the ‘sensible sphere’ especially if you are a chocolate lover. Rather a spectacular desert, to say the least!
Location: Santa Catalina 210 Cercado, Arequipa
Price: 15 – 20 USD for a main dish
Type of food: regional food and authentic Peruvian dishes with high quality ingredients
Chaqchao chocolate class
Speaking of chocolate! If you ever want to learn more about the making of and history of chocolate, there is only one place you can go: the Chaqchao chocolate class. We did several cooking classes during our travels, but we never learned that much about food as in this class. Chaqchao offers small group classes with a maximum of 10 persons. There is one class in the morning and one in the afternoon. Our passionate teacher Adrian started by explaining how the cacao beans are processed. But the class is not only about theory, we also had to select our own beans, roast them and grind them. By adding spices, sugar and water to the cacao paste, we made our very own ‘chocolatl’, a divine drink that was very popular with the Azteks.
Did you know? Cacao beans were originaly used for a royal drink named “chocolatl”, meaning warm liquid.
After sampling the chocolate drink we were invited to taste the difference between ‘real’ and fake chocolate. The basic idea behind identifying real from fake chocolate is the amount of cacao butter. Real chocolate should have a small bitterness afterwards which proves there is real cacao butter in it. Adrian explained it as a sort of “taste curve” you have to feel in your mouth. Difficult to explain, so go ahead grab a piece of great chocolate and try it. It’s the perfect excuse! The class ended with the chance to make our own chocolate bonbons. We received a mould and all kinds of fillings (peanuts, almonds, quinoa, spices, …) The only limitation was your imagination to make new chocolate combinations. This class was something totally different and a nice experience if you love chocolate!
Location: Calle Santa Catalina 204, Arequipa
Price: 20 USD per person for 2u30 class
Type of food: no crap, only the best and most pure chocolate ingredients
Las gringas artisanal pizza & beer
In the same alley where Chaqchao is situated you can find another foodie hotspot: Las gringas. They are famous for their focaccia, pizza and selection of beers. The place is very stylish and modernly decorated with cozy tables and an open kitchen/bar. The owner and waiters are friendly and very welcoming. You feel immediately at ease. At the bar you can choose a variety of creative beers. We enjoyed the “squeeze my manderins” the most. It’s a beer that is a little bit fruity with a smooth aftertaste. As for the pizza, these are all made in a real pizza oven and they offer some unique combinations. We’ve never seen raspberries on a pizza, but together with the brie cheese it certainly worked. If you like to go out for a Friday night-dinner, this is the place to be.
Location: Calle Santa Catalina 204, Arequipa
Price: 8-10 USD for a big pizza
Type of food: fresh, organic and local pizza
La Lucha: hamburgers & sandwiches
This list would not be complete without La Lucha. Situated in the heart of the city, only a 2-minute walk from the central plaza. Their trademark? Hamburgers, but really delicious hamburgers. The menu is straightforward and qualitative. Our favorite was the original cheeseburger together with French fries on the side. Their fries are a bit different as they still have the peel on them, providing that extra bit of crisp. There are enough places to sit, but don’t expect to sit here for more than half an hour as it’s a busy place. The atmosphere and interior is nicely decorated with old photos and lamps. To conclude: I’m quite sure we gained some pounds thanks to La Lucha and their delicious burgers, but it was totally worth it.
Location: Mercaderes 116-118, Arequipa
Price: 4 USD for a hamburger / sandwich + 2 USD for French fries
Type of food: deliciously and freshly made hamburgers and sandwiches
Chifa: fusion between Chinese and Peruvian food
When visiting Peru in general another food tip we can give you is try Chifa! Basically it’s a fusion between Chinese and Peruvian food. We loved it. It reminded us to our Chinese take-away at home but with a Peruvian twist. We don’t have a favorite place to go to in Arequipa, but you have enough restaurants to choose from. Just look for places where there are a lot of locals. If you can see the cook in the kitchen at work that’s also always a good indication that the food is freshly prepared. Wantan fritto as a starter and Kalu wantan con chauffa never disappointed us.
Location: on every corner of the city center in Arequipa
Price: 5 USD for a whole menu, complete with starter, main dish and a drink
Type of food: fusion kitchen between Chinese and Peruvian
Our conclusion? Arequipa is a very laid back city and excellent place for foodies. Have you been to Arequipa? Any places that we could add to the list? Let us know in the comments.
As always, thank you very much for reading and feel free to share!
M & M