Discovering Ceviche in Lima, Peru

We are currently in Lima, the capital of Peru, our last stop in South America, on our quest for authentic food. We decided to end our trip in the Gastronomy Capital of South America, discovering Peruvian Ceviche and more Peruvian food.

Lima is a very interesting city and it reminds us a lot of Los Angeles. It is a huge city with one third of of the population of Peru living in the metropolitan area. The city is spread out and subdivided into 43 different distritos (districts). Like Los Angeles, the climate is very similar and it hardly ever rains.

In Lima you will find an incredible waterfront with gorgeous sunsets along the Pacific Ocean. The historic city center of Lima is the colonial capital of Peru, that was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro  in 1535. The historical center was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988 and and a “Cultural Patrimony of Humanity” in 1996.

Discovering Ceviche Lovers ParkLovers Park in Lima
Discovering Ceviche Plaza Mayor, LimaPlaza Mayor, Lima
Discovering Ceviche in Lima PeruStreet of Lima
Authentic Food Quest Page_Break

Discovering Ceviche in Peru

Ceviche in Peru is often considered as Lima’s dish of the city. And sometimes as Peru’s favorite dish.  The Peruvian government created National Ceviche Day in 2008 to honor Ceviche as part of Peru’s national heritage. National Ceviche Day is celebrated every year on June 28th. It is said that Ceviche evolved from a dish that was brought to Peru by Moorish women accompanying Spanish conquistadors.

Discovering Ceviche ceviche mealCeviche

When you travel to Lima, Peru, if there is one thing not to miss is the Ceviche. With Lima having so many eateries and us wanting to have an authentic experience outside of the 5 stars restaurants, we asked locals to tell us where the locals go to get good Ceviche. We got some great tips from local limeñas (female natives of Lima); our airbnb host Patricia as well as our friend Cecilia, a gastronomy critic in Lima.

That is how we learned that Lima has four different kind of eateries: restaurants, huariques, mercados and street food. We tried Ceviche at each of these different places. We chose a more local feel rather than trying Ceviche at the most well-known places in Lima. However, we plan on visiting additional cevicherias and we will update this list in the near future.

Authentic Food Quest Page_Break

Discovering Ceviche in Peruvian Restaurants

Restaurants in Lima are not much different than typical restaurant elsewhere. They are comfortable places where you sit down and meals are prepared to order from a menu. In Lima, restaurants are usually places that are upscale in prices and feel. To experience Ceviche at a restaurant, it was suggested that we should visit Cervicheria El Mordisco, a popular restaurant in the Lince distrito or district, where we are staying.  

Authentic Food Quest Page_Break

Discovering Ceviche in Huarique (pronounced wahreekay)

In the gastronomy capital of South America, you can find very high-end restaurant offering meals for five to ten times the prices of a meal offered in the market. However, between the markets and the restaurants you will find another set of places to enjoy Peruvian food. These are called Huarique.

A Huarique also spelt “warique” is a type of family restaurant that offers traditional food and typical dishes from the region.  They are typically not fancy places, but rather eateries where ordinary people can enjoy a simple, home cooked meal. They are also somewhat secret places that are not advertised. People learn about them via word of mouth. Huarique, although a Spanish word, comes from two words of the Quechua language. “Wa” which means hidden or secret, and “Rique” which means a stew. Hence a secret place that serves good food. Indeed the dishes served are typical and tasty home-made meals.

To experience Ceviche at a Huarique, we went to Punto Azul, a place recommended by our friend Cecillia.

Authentic Food Quest Page_Break

Discovering Ceviche in Peruvian Farmers Markets

As we highlight in our free ebook, “The 5 Best Ways To Find Authentic Food While Traveling” farmers markets or mercados are great places to get local and authentic products. Not only are they places to learn about the fruits and vegetables that grow in a country, they are also great spots to enjoy authentic meals. 

The markets in Lima markets validated this point. The markets we visited all had great places to try ceviche. However at the market, don’t expect nice seating and well presented menus. You may need to seat on a stool and eat your food on the counter, which is actually an ideal place to see how the food is being prepared in front of you. Usually, the menu is on a chalkboard and dishes might get erased as they become unavailable. Menu are very basic and they include: appetizer, main meal and a drink (refresco) which is either agua de pina (pineapple juice), maracuya (passion fruit juice) or chicha morada (purple corn sweet drink).

We enjoyed ceviche at several stalls at different farmers market in Lima. Two of the popular market to experience ceviche in Peru are Mercado de Surquillo and Mercado Central. Check at the end of the post for the locations addresses.

Authentic Food Quest Page_Break

Discovering Ceviche: Street Food

Street food is very common in Lima and your best best is to line up near a street vendor with long lines of locals waiting to order their food.They are many types of street food vendors and the most common are the ones selling: emoliente (soothing and medicinal drink), Anticucho (Quechua word for cut stewed meat which may consist of chicken, beef or heart), Mazamorra arroz con leche (rice pudding with purple corn), and sandwiches. They usually either have a cart or a little truck where they prepare the food.

While we were in Cusco, we were intrigued by a little Cevicheria truck that would show up at lunch time everyday (except weekends) and sell Ceviche from the back of the truck. Knowing it was Peru’s favorite dish, we took a leap of faith and ordered the ceviche.

Authentic Food Quest Page_Break

The Taste of Pervuvian Ceviche

Ceviche is essentially a raw dish that consists of fish soaked in citrus juices such as lime and spiced with chili peppers. There are just 5 ingredients in the national dish of Peru: raw fish, salt red onions and ají, Peru’s unique line of chili peppers, all doused in lime juice. The acidic liquid ‘cooks’ the fish and changes the proteins in the fish making it firm and opaque. The marinade is called leche de tigre (tiger’s milk). The ceviche in Peru is generally accompanied by camote (sweet potatoes) and choclo (large, white Andean corn), which are both native to Peru.

Ceviche is traditionally eaten at lunch, when the fish is most fresh. Everywhere we ate ceviche was incredibly busy and full. Limeños (people of Lima) are crazy about Ceviche.  In Peru, people eat an average of 44 pounds of fish every year compared to just 16 pounds in the U.S.

We had Ceviche prepared in two different and popular ways: Pescado and Mixto.  The Pescado is the traditional mix of thinly cut slices of fish. The Mixto has the fish and the addition of squid, octopus and scallops. Wow! is what we said every single time we tried ceviche at the various eateries. We were blown away by the high quality fish and the combinations of flavors. It didn’t matter if we were at a restaurant or at the mercado, the fish and seafood was incredibly fresh and some of the most delicious seafood we have tasted. The onions, limes and spices gives it a tangy bite and that’s where the unique sweet taste of the camote comes into play. The sublime mix of flavors is incredible. It is understandable why this dish has it’s own national day.

Authentic Food Quest Page_Break

In Summary

A trip to Lima would not be complete without indulging in an authentic Peruvian Ceviche. If you find yourself in the capital of Peru, try Ceviche at the various types of eateries. Enjoy the experience outside the traditional restaurants in the popular neighborhoods. Check out a Huarique and pull up a bar stool at the Mercado. You may surprise yourself when you taste the high-quality fresh fish in unsurprising places. 

Location mentioned:

El Mordisco, Av. Petit Thouars 2631 – Lince, Lima.

Punto Azul, Esq. Javier Prado con Petit Thouars, San Isidro, Lima.

Mercado de Surquillo, Paseo de la Republica block 53, Surquillo, Lima.

Mercado Central, cnr Ayacucho & Ucayali, Lima Centro, Lima.

 

Do you like Ceviche? Tell us the best place you’ve had ceviche. Share your comments below.

 

Don’t forget to sign up for our monthly newsletter here and get your free ebook on The 5 Best Ways to Find Authentic Food While Traveling.

Savor The Adventure!

51 Comments on “Discovering Ceviche in Lima, Peru”

  1. Thanks for the addresses! Do you know you can also eat ceviche on a boat in Chorrillos? Lima Food Boat proposes to celebrate fishermen tradition eating and cooking ceviche !!!onboard!!! For your next time in Peru you HAVE to try it.

    Reply
  2. This is the first time I’ve heard someone compare Lima to Los Angeles. LA is one of my favorite cities, so I guess I have to check out Lima now! Good thing I’m a fan of ceviche, all that fresh seafood looks amazing.

    Reply
    • To be honest, only parts of Lima reminded me of Los Angeles. Specifically, the area overlooking the oceans. The fresh seafood in Lima is an experience and the city is worth exploring. You’d love it. Hope you get a chance to visit at some point. Thanks, Kim.

      Reply
  3. Awe! You’re making me road-sick for Peru! I’m so not an adventurous foodie, so ceviche totally intimidated me when I was in Peru. I actually tried cuy and llama (amazing for me), but never got around to ceviche. You’re making me realize that was a huge mistake. I totally agree with your tip that the best food is found in markets and on the street!

    Reply
    • Bummer to hear that you missed ceviche while you were in Peru. It’s interesting that you tried cuy before fresh seafood 🙂 A guess a trip back to Peru is in order. Indeed the best food is found in the markets on the street. Thanks, Paige.

      Reply
  4. First of all, I find the names Lima and Peru itself so fascinating. They evoke images of an exotic and beautiful land. Loved reading this post as we usually do not get to see much about this part of South America. Coming to Ceviche it indeed seems to be an iconic and national dish of the country. The options for eating this dish are indeed mind-boggling. What I really loved about the dish is its beautiful presentation.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Sandy. Really appreciate the feedback. Ceviche is a national treasure in Peru and a beautiful and delightful dish. Hope you get to visit Peru at some point and explore all the cevicheria 🙂 Thanks so much.

      Reply
  5. I got violently ill from food twice in Peru before getting to Lima. So I was quite weary to try raw fish. But all the ceviche we had in restaurants around Miraflores blew my mind. At the time I had no clue there were other places to enjoy ceviche, thanks for the tips. Perhaps I’ll return to Peru after all…

    Reply
    • I’m so sorry to hear that you got ill in Peru. We ate all over the country and were fortunate not to get sick. Fingers crossed. The next time you are in Peru, explore the neighborhoods outside of Miraflores and be prepared to be blown away. Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
  6. This is an awesome post! We had some delicious ceviche while lounging on the beach in Mancora but I don’t remember any memorable ceviche spots in Lima – really could’ve used your blog when I was there a few years ago! I’ve got to try to make it to Peru someday for National Ceviche Day – add a Peruvian white wine and I’ll be happy as a clam all day long!

    Reply
    • Oh that’s too bad you don’t recall any memorable places for ceviche in Lima. On your next trip, take this article with you and enjoy ceviche in the different eateries. Agree, we would love to visit on National Ceviche Day as well. That would just be a lot of fun. Thanks for stopping by.

      Reply
  7. Ceviche is a favorite in all Hispanic nations. Since the Philippines was colonized by Spain for 300 years, the dish is also popular in my home country, especially with alcoholic drinks.

    Reply
    • You are right Carol, we discovered ceviche in the Philippines as well, where it is called Kinilaw. I found the taste different from the ceviche in Peru, but I enjoyed it as well. Indeed a great drink with ceviche is the perfect combination 🙂 Cheers!

      Reply
  8. I love Lima, I even got engaged there years ago! I can’t believe how much ceviche you ate there and that you even got it out of the back of a van! I like it, my husband more. We have eaten it in Mexico, Italy and Lima.

    Reply
  9. I love ceviche and I hear it’s amazing in Peru. I love how they use much bigger chunks of seafood then you normally see. Can’t wait to get down there and give it a try.

    Reply
    • Hi Megan, you will not be disappointed with the Ceviche in Lima. The fish and seafood are so fresh and the flavors delicious. Portions are indeed very generous and prices very reasonable. It is easy to splurge on Ceviche everyday in Lima!

      Reply
    • Hi Lesley, Peru has so much to offer! You will find plenty of dishes beyond Ceviche. Though it is worth giving it a try if you stop in Lima or if you stay along the coast. The seafood is so fresh and tasty. If you are not comfortable having it at a market, you might want to try ceviche at a well known restaurant to be on the safe side.

      Reply
  10. I think it’s hilarious that they have a national ceviche day! I am personally not a seafood fan, but I do think trying local specialties is a big part of culture and traveling. I might make my hubby get it just so I could have BITE to say I tried it! 😉

    Reply
    • Yes, Peru is very proud of their Ceviche. You should definitively give it a try. The products and flavors in Peru are so different from what we are used to that you might get pleasantly surprised by some of the dishes.

      Reply
  11. I remember my very first experience with ceviche, I was a 1st year apprentice with very little experience with eating ‘raw’ food. One of the kitchen rules was we had to eat or at least sample everything we prepared so we knew what it was to taste like. But being the newbie I was, I took one look at it and refused to eat it, the chefs held me down and force fed me. Not pleasant! But, I can now say it is one of my most favourite foods and I cannot wait to visit Lima and experience it there too. 🙂

    Reply
  12. We both love Ceviche. We first came across it in Costa Rica. Yes, it’s a fairly popular dish there too! And so far every time it has tasted slightly different. Last we tried three different variations as an entree platter in Chile.

    Reply
  13. Peru is on my “possibles” list for next year! And not just for Machu Pichu. I’ve been hearing more and more about the amazing food. Now I will know to try the ceviche. I love it where I live in Mexico, but this sounds even better. Thanks for the tips.

    Reply
    • Hi Donna, thanks for your comments. It’s true Peru is becoming more well known for it’s food. It’s the gastronomy capital of South America. Being here I can completely agree, the food, including the ceviche is delicious. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions as you planning your trip. Cheers!!

      Reply
  14. I have to admit, the idea of ceviche freaks me out a little bit. It’s fish! Uncooked fish! But I’d be willing to give it a try in Lima. I think whenever you’re a bit hesitant about trying a dish, you should have it where it’s best known – chances are, it will be good.

    Reply
    • You are so right Vanessa. The best is to try new dishes where they are considered specialities. That way you get to enjoy the best. In Lima, the seafood is fresh and right from the Pacific Ocean…it’s delicious. You might surprise yourself and find that you like it:)

      Reply
    • Hi Amelie….what a great question. Ceviche is essentially raw fish and seafood. Is there vegan ceviche…don’t know!! Great question for the community…does anyone out there know if there is a vegan ceviche???

      Reply
    • Hey Amelie, I am an Australian chef by trade and can confirm there is such a thing as vegan ceviche. I have prepared mushroom ceviche which is amazing, but you could use Artichoke hearts or cauliflower in place of the fish. Let us know how you go if you have a crack at making it. 🙂

      Reply
  15. LOVE ceviche a lot. One of our favourite foods and we’ve a salmon recipe one we do all the time. Didn’t realise you can use the acid of lime to essentially “cook” meat when we first discovered it. In the Philippines it’s adapted and called “kinilaw” – equally as delicious 🙂

    Reply
    • Great….another huge lover of Ceviche. Good to know what it is called in the Philippines. Most of the ceviche we’ve had in Lima actually does not use salmon. It’s mostly white fish or seafood. In any case, it’s all delicious!

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Post a Comment

We love to hear from you, so tell us what you think.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.