Lima's Best Food, Coffee and People-Watching

December 31, 2009
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IE Creative Services Editor Emily Harley spent Thanksgiving on our Amazon River tour! Now she shares thoughts on this unique small-ship adventure aboard La Amatista.

When traveling, I make it a personal mission to do three things:
1)    Try the local coffee
2)    Sample a local beer
3)    Find a “non-touristy” place to people watch

My Friday in Lima was perfect for accomplishing all three of these goals! I’ll add the caveat that the San Isidro area is one of Lima’s more affluent areas — a fact which no doubt colored the available choices for beer, people watching and probably coffee too.

Locals spend an afternoon at Parque El OlivarThere’s a trick to getting a great cup of the local brew, especially when you are clearly not a local. Rather than drinking the coffee served in the hotel restaurant, get to be friends with your waiter and ask for a cup from the kitchen. (Thank you for the tip Hernando!) Peruvians take their coffee stout…and it was PERFECT! Hot, aromatic, tasty and it helped prepare me for a day touring.

After a morning touring pre-Columbian ruins (be sure to read my previous post), I was ready for lunch. IE provides a handy list of recommended restaurants in each guest’s final documents, and I knew from asking around that I had to try T’anta. Owned by famed Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio and just blocks from our hotel, T’anta has gotten rave reviews from the IE staff.

I started by asking our server for his beer recommendation. Again, I was not to be disappointed! For lunch, I tried Monument in Parque El Olivarthe papas rellenas, potato stuffed with meat, olive, egg and served with two choices of Peruvian sauces. This is supposed to be an appetizer, but after seeing the portion sizes (and dessert trolley!) I stuck with a smaller dish. Quite honestly, I could wax poetic about lunch for several paragraphs. The relaxed atmosphere, superb people-watching, tasty beer and decadent desserts will draw me back to this café the next time I find myself in Lima (and keep me drooling until T’anta and I meet again!).

Just a block from T’anta is the huge Parque El Olívar, stretching for blocks along the Eastern side of San Isidro. Once an olive grove, you can still find two gnarled trees and an olive press in this park, which seems heavily trafficked by locals. As we strolled the wide walking path, families stopped to feed the birds and fish near a large fountain, and old and young alike mingled while walking dogs and enjoying picnics. A few hours spent in this lovely park is a great way to cap off a day in Lima and prepare for an Amazon adventure!

NEXT INSTALLMENT: It's time to meet the rest of our small group and head into the Amazon!

Read Previous Blog Post or See Video of Emily's Amazon Tour

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