We just got back from a quick 5-day trip to Lima, Peru where we stayed at the Sheraton Lima, one of the few large and notable hotels in the historic center. Since the hotel offers a free shuttle to the Larcomar shopping centre in Miraflores, we were able to split our time between the busy historic center and the more relaxed coastal neighborhood of Miraflores.
P.S. Locating an accurate address on Google Maps in Lima is challenging compared to other countries – so be careful! Just want to give you a head-up before you copy + paste an address from Happy Cow Lima – the Happy Cow map isn’t accurate.
In the last year we visited four great Latin American cities – Bogota, Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Lima, and while there are certain similarities between them all, Lima was also somewhat reminiscent of Manila and other parts of South East Asia.
I would recommend visiting Lima if you get the opportunity, but probably as a stopover en route to somewhere further south in Latin America or on your way to the ever popular Machu Picchu. The city has a lot to offer and is easy to see in a short amount of time, from the laid-back Miraflores and Barranco on the coast to the historic colonial architecture in the bustling center, you won’t be disappointed if you stop off in Lima for a quick trip. Additionally, the Spanish spoken in Lima was some of the clearest we’ve encountered and the people were some of the most courteous and patient with our limited grasp of the Spanish language.
And as for the inevitable question, no we didn’t go to Machu Picchu…we figured that just leaves us something to go back to Peru for! (but not before see more of Colombia first!)
All photos in the post are taken by iPhone. I didn’t bring my favorite camera for this trip! x Rika
Peru has one of the largest Asian populations per capita in Latin America and this Asian presence is reflected in their cuisine. There are a lot of dishes with the slightest Asian influence or inspiration (see ‘Lomo Saltado’) as well as what the locals calls ‘Chifas’ on nearly every corner. A Chifa is the local version of a Chinese restaurant and short for the Chinese 吃飯 (Chi Fan), which means eat rice or eat a meal. Expect to find a spring roll filled with local Peruvian produce, or that aforementioned ‘Lomo Saltado’ – a stir-fry of Andean ingredients, most notably fried potatoes, diced tomatoes, red onion and in a vegan version either soy/gluten or mushrooms (‘hongos saltados’) in soy sauce.
Flying to Lima
We flew from EWR (Newark, NJ) to LIM (Lima, Peru) via United. We had some interesting VGML meals. For Lunch/Dinner, we had a vegan Indian meal: Lauki Chana with cumin rice and vegetable jalfrezi. I’m not a huge fan of Indian airline meals, but this one was pretty tasty so far. In addition to the meal, we had a super sweet (and gross) vegan chocolate chip cookie and a very bland quinoa salad with black beans. I like that they added ingredients label on every item. The dressing wasn’t vegan. For snack, we had a vegan chickpea curry wrap, which was very tasty. Airlines should be doing vegan wraps more often!
Besides all these airline meals, we brought tons of vegan snacks with us such as Beanfields chips, Go Max candy bars, peanut butter-filled pretzels and Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods Vegan Hot & Sour Ramen cup:
Hotel: Sheraton Lima
We stayed at the Sheraton Lima in the historic center. The hotel is located next to the Real Plaza Mall with a supermarket where you can pick up snacks and drinks. Since the hotel offers a free shuttle to the Larcomar mall in Miraflores, we were able to split our time between the busy historic center and the more relaxed coastal neighborhood of Miraflores. The Sheraton Lima has a bar and serves complimentary breakfast – mostly raw fruits, juices, soya milk and other beverages.
Sheraton Lima: Our hotel room includes a small private balcony where you can take in city views.
Sheraton Lima: Classic room with a king bed (344 sq ft / 32 m²), includes 32-inch flat screen LCD TV, mini Bar and paid Wi-Fi (we received free Wi-Fi as a Starwood Preferred Guest, SPG Gold member).
Sheraton Lima: Hallways and hotel rooms
Sheraton Lima: Front lobby area across Palacio de Justicia (The Palace of Justice), the seat of the Supreme Court of Peru.
El AlmaZen (Miraflores)
We learned about this vegetarian restaurant El AlmaZen through other vegan blogs, i.e., quarrygirl and I wanted to try something Peruvian and vegan! It was a bit difficult finding the restaurant on Google Maps – the address on HappyCow wasn’t correct due to their Google Maps, just type it manually on Google Maps: Calle General Recavarren 298, Miraflores, Lima 18, Peru. In addition, they don’t have a website nor a public Facebook page – lacking a menu and their hours. To be honest, locating an accurate address on Google Maps in Lima is challenging compared to other countries – so be careful! If you are unable to locate that correctly, ask a local (a taxi driver is pretty good at directions as long as you speak Spanish) or a hotel staff if needed.
We came around 1:45pm on a weekday and we were lucky to get our seats. There were a number of people either turned away at the door or advised to wait due to the restaurant being full. So it’s best to either arrive early or come after the rush, the restaurant was thinning out a bit closer to 3pm but there were still quite a few occupied tables.
The starters were S28.00, and the mains were S38.00. That is a bit pricy for locals to spend in Peru and almost the same price at my favorite Peruvian restaurant in Portland, Andina Restaurant. In addition to being a vegan and vegetarian restaurant, it is also organic. I photographed their menu here and here (March 4, 2014) if you’re interested and please note they are handwritten in Spanish. Ask the staff if these dishes are ‘vegano’, and the staff will point them out for you. Luckily, all starters and mains were vegan that day we were there.
The service was slow. If you’re in a hurry, this isn’t the place to dine at. While our orders arrived after a slightly long wait, the ladies at the next table over ordered their food before us and actually didn’t receive their meals until we were finished eating. We felt really bad for the ladies. There are no drinks listed on the menu and the waitstaff never offered any drinks (we actually didn’t need any but might have been curious to hear what they offered). The food service wasn’t lacking, but you might have to be patient with their slightly disorganized service.
We had complimentary small tea cups of mint tea at room temperature and two small slices of olive bread. For the starter, we had Causa Rellena, a layered mashed potato dish with red quinoa, tomatoes, sprouts, aguaymanto (uchuva, golden berry or gooseberry) and creamy Huancaína sauce (S28.00). Loving the golden berries in the red quinoa and the starter was creamy and delish. For the main, we had Crepe “Lasagna” with sautéed spinach, asparagus and grilled zucchini in spinach and herbs sauce & raw tomato sauce (S38.00) and it came with a tasty, nicely seasoned salad. The main was hearty and filling using crepes instead of lasagna noodles, but nothing Peruvian. We didn’t have any big meals on our first two days – so that’s why I got the lasagna.
Took more photos of the starter Causa Rellena since it looked really gorgeous. I wish I can eat this everyday.
According to their Facebook, these adorable cat figurines have been with them since they opened.
Sabor y Vida (Miraflores)
Sabor y Vida is another vegetarian restaurant, a few blocks away from El AlmaZen (reviewed above). Both restaurants are on the same street. We met a very friendly owner Humberto; his relatives live in Los Angeles. He explained which meals are ‘vegano’, and clearly stated that other meals contain dairy and/or eggs in Spanish. The restaurant offers a selection of few set menu options and we both chose the complete menu set (S11.00) which includes a drink, starter, bread, main and dessert. Sabor y Vida is a great place to find inexpensive Peruvian/Latin fare compared to El AlmaZen.
The restaurant will display different starters and mains daily, located outside of their entrance door. There are three starters on the top row and three mains on the bottom row (apparently, the last one is sold out since we came in the mid-afternoon). For a complete menu set, you get to choose one of the three starters and mains, including a drink, bread and dessert. Most of the meals are vegan, but one of them may not be, so be sure to ask the owner or a staff to inform you which dishes are vegan.
For the beverage, we both had Carambola Juice (Starfruit, but spiced), at first it reminded me of Chicha morada (a Peruvian purple corn drink), but it’s a starfruit juice with a bit of spices and cinnamon.
From left: Camote y Naranja (glutinous Sweet Potato and Orange Puree); Salsa de Rocoto, a popular Peruvian spicy sauce using rocoto peppers; a creamy starter soup, Sopa de Olluco (Andean tubers)
We tried one of the starters – Ensalada de Choclo (large Peruvian kernel corn or Cuzco corn salad). For the main, we had Pepián de Choclo con Asado (Peruvian corn stew with gluten/seitan). The sauce was creamy, delicious and a bit sweet with peas, but needed something else such as tubers, kernel corn.
Lastly, for the main, we had Lomo Saltado, a traditional, but “vegan” Peruvian stir-fry consisting of gluten/seitan, red onions, tomatoes, and fried potatoes, served over brown rice. Most mains come with choice of brown or white rice.
Clockwise from top left: Veggie Minestrone Soup with choclo (Peruvian kernel corn); Ensalada Tricolor (salad); Saltado de Frejolito Chino (Lomo Saltado stir-fry with Chinese bean sprouts); Frijoles Rojos (Red Kidney Beans) with brown rice and grilled ripe plantain
This was our second visit to Sabor y Vida and we came around 2pm. They had a vegan Peruvian yellow stew I wanted to try: Ají de Gallina but it was sold out, dang! So we ended up with a very Colombian dish and a stir-fry for our mains, which were both very filling and delicious. We were slightly disappointed that we didn’t have a Peruvian main of the day. Even still, that’s S11.00 per person (about $4) for a starter, main, beverage, bread and dessert (or fruit).
El Manantial (City Centre)
There was no restaurant signage on the top – it’s a red building, just near Presidential Palace (Palacio de Gobierno) in downtown Lima and within walking distance from Sheraton Lima (about 20-minute walk). The vegetarian restaurant offers two different menu sets: Economy (S8.00) and Executive (S10.00). We both had the Executive menu set which included a drink, soup, a main and small dessert. Be sure to let your staff know that you cannot eat their dessert (Yogur con miel) – ask for apple sauce (Compota de manzana) instead of yoghurt with honey. We both had Lomo Saltado served with brown rice and it was massive (had a lot of gluten/seitan, too). We barely finished the plate, however it was a satisfying meal prior to departure.
Two different menu sets: Economy (S8.00) and Executive (S10.00)
They have a small shop at the front, but most of them are the ones you will find at the supermarkets and not all of them are vegan.
The classic Peruvian green sauce – Salsa Verde de Cilantro and it is super spicy, but Doni loved the sauce.
We had a starter soup, Lomo Saltado (Peruvian stir-fry with gluten/seitan) and apple sauce/puree. The starter and main were both massive and filling for one person. All of them are S10.00 (about $3.55 per person).
Afinidad Maravillosa Restaurante Vegetariano (City Centre)
We dropped by this vegetarian buffet place, but didn’t dine there. We wanted to make sure this restaurant exists. Afinidad Maravillosa Restaurante Vegetariano is on the same street as El Manantial (reviewed above). There’s a blog review about the restaurant here if you’re interested.
Grocery stores in Lima have the diverse choice of corn and tubers you would expect to find in Peru along with a variety delicious local tropical fruits and maca powder. Among the store we visited were two of the larger chains in Peru, Wong and Plaza Vea. For a more American style grocery store there is also Supermercado Vivanda on Av Jose Pardo in Miraflores.
Supermarkets carry some natural and vegan-friendly chips such as Viva La Papa! Andean Native potato chips. I promised Sharon @ Bit of the Good Stuff to share a picture of the chips, so here’s it! These chips were not very salty, crisp and a bit bland which is better than any processed junk food.
We had chicha morada, a sweet and spiced Peruvian beverage made from ears of purple maize (maíz morado) and Camu Camu (red cherry-like fruit) juice. Both beverages are 100% natural, contain no preservatives or artificial colorings.
Doni wanted to try a very popular Peruvian soft drink – Inca Kola and yes, it’s full of artificial ingredients and it tastes like sugary bumble gum. Eh, kind of gross.
From left: natural fried plantain chips in chili powder by Inka chips (they weren’t spicy); fried plantain chip; maca cookies by Del Paraiso Light which were pretty light, not too sweet and a bit greasy due to vegetable oil.
Fresh Tamarind juice (so good and refreshing, pretty sweet) from Supermercado Vivanda on Av Jose Pardo in Miraflores.
We found these two flavored and organic chia beverages at Wong supermarket (Larcomar shopping centre in Miraflores). These two flavors are passion fruit and raspberry. Both of them taste really bland and not too sweet due to stevia. I don’t understand the point of adding stevia to these wonderful sweet fruits.
Found random vegan-friendly chips such as multigrain and ears of purple maize (purple corn) including healthy-nutty bars (sesame/kiwicha and nuts). Most snacks taste pretty bland, not too salty or sweet at all.
Photo Diary: Lima, Peru
Onwards to Miraflores from historic centre in Lima.
Busy traffic in the middle of central Lima onwards to Miraflores.
Beach area in Miraflores, one of the upscale and laid-back residential districts in Lima.
The hotel, Sheraton Lima we stayed at offers free shuttles to one of the most popular shopping centres: Larcomar shopping centre in Miraflores. There’s a Wong supermarket there.
Climbed down these steps from the cliff to the beach.
Breathtaking view of the waters in Miraflores and it was a foggy afternoon.
Surfers off the Miraflores beach, which are mostly black pebbles and not very pleasant for tanning or sunbathing.
Evening sky in Miraflores.
Residential district of Miraflores – very colorful and laid-back compared to central Lima (historic).
Huaca Pucllana (Adobe Pyramid), a beautiful adobe and clay pyramid located in the Miraflores district of Lima, Peru, built from seven staggered platforms.
Our hotel room has a balcony with city view – this is central Lima.
Another view of central Lima from the hallway windows & traffic.
Palacio de Justicia (The Palace of Justice), the seat of the Supreme Court of Peru and just across our hotel.
Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Armas of Lima (birthplace of Lima), located in historic centre of Lima.
Presidential Palace (Palacio de Gobierno) in Lima, Peru.