Our guide to Peru’s tastiest street food

Welcome to Peru: land of ancient Inca ruins, brightly dressed llamas and the only country in the world where family and friends give each other yellow underpants on New Year’s Eve. It’s also a gastronomic wonderland.

With over 3,000 varieties of potato, 55 different types of corn and the birthplace of the very drinkable Pisco, Peru is quickly developing a reputation as one of the world’s foodie hotspots. Step aside Copenhagan, move over New York: Peru is a country that self-proclaimed foodies should put at the top of their ‘must visit so I can eat everything’ list immediately.

Here are some of our favourite dishes that you’ll see on just about every menu in Peru.

Image c/o Juan Felipe Rubio, Flickr


What is it?

A medley of raw seafood, which is ‘cooked’ in fresh citrus juices, chilli, onion and herbs.

Wait, raw seafood? Sounds like a recipe for disaster…

It’s not! Provided the seafood used is fresh and you eat it as soon as it’s served, ceviche is actually a recipe for deliciously good times (but if you’re pregnant, it’s probably best to choose a cooked meal). Thirty million Peruvians can’t be wrong.


Causa and empanada in Peru. Image c/o Kevin Tao, Flickr


What is it?

A savoury, layered dish, made up of potato, vegetables, egg and chicken. Think of it as a deliciously edible version of one of those coloured sand ornaments from the 80s…

Potato, eh? Tell me more…

Potato lovers will be in heaven in Peru – the country is famous for them! With over 3,000 varieties of tuber growing in the Andean Highlands, the humble spud is the hero of this dish.

I don’t eat chicken – are there other versions?

The beauty of this dish is that it can consist of anything and everything (it’s actually a great dish for using up leftovers). Some places keep it simple with peas, corn and tomato, or while others get fancier with layers of prawn or caviar.

peru - paul lowry

Image c/o Paul Lowry, Flickr


What is it?

Meat on a stick. Originally made with llama meat, anticuchos are now made with cubed beef heart that’s marinated in a mix of garlic, chilli, spices and vinegar, then threaded onto a skewer and cooked on a barbecue. If you’d prefer something less hearty, chicken and beef anticuchos are just as delicious.

Where can I get it?

Anticuchos are Peru’s most popular street food, and are best enjoyed hot off the grill of a street-side anticucheras.


Image c/o Phil Whitehouse, Flickr


What is it?

Look away, lovers of all things cute and cuddly. Cuy (pronounced ‘kwee’) is guinea pig, and it’s been on the menu in Peru for over 5,000 years.

Guinea pig, you say?

It’s true. While gourmet chefs are whipping up ‘fancy’ versions in restaurants all over the country (and the world), it’s traditionally roasted over a spit (cuy al palo), or flattened between two stones and fried (cuy chactado). Cuy is almost always cooked and served whole – teeth, ears and all.

What does it taste like?

Like a chicken/rabbit hybrid.


Image c/o Krista, Flickr

Pollo a la Braza Peruano

What is it?

Pretty much the best roast chicken you’ll ever eat. Slathered in a spicy marinade and roasted over coals, this is not your typical roast chook.

What’s it served with?

Potato, usually in the form of decidedly un-Peruvian French fries, and a light salad.

Where can I get it?

Anywhere in Peru. Or you can make your own version at home, using this recipe from Pastuso legend and Peruvian chef, Alejandro Saravia.


Image c/o Nick Jewell, Flickr

Red flags

Driving around Peru, you’ll notice red flags (or coloured plastic bags, ribbons and bunches of flowers, depending on the region you’re in) along the side of the road. This indicates that there’s a chicheria nearby, ready to serve up a glass of chicha to passers by. Chicha is not for the faint-hearted (and most travellers are advised against trying it); the fermented corn drink – often sweetened with strawberries, pineapple and cloves – is quite potent and can be harsh on stomachs. Perhaps stick with Inca Kola instead.


Image c/o Eduardo Meneghel, Flickr

Toasting Mother Earth

On the eve of August, the coldest month of the year and typically when crops are trickier to grow, locals honour Pachamama – the goddess of fertility – by giving her a plate of food. The offering is then tipped onto the ground and a prayer is recited, which is said to bring good luck, good health and good harvests. During the rest of the year, it’s not uncommon for your host to spill the first sip of their drink onto the ground, to give thanks to Mother Earth.

Hungry for more? Discover Peru’s culinary scene from Lima to Cuzco on our Real Food Adventure.

Feature image c/o Andrea Moroni, Flickr