As I mentioned in my hotel review, I unfortunately didn’t get to try out as many restaurants as I would have liked in Ollantaytambo due to the hotel’s location. So, two of the three nights of our stay in the Sacred Valley we dined at our hotel’s restaurant, which truly was excellent; another evening we dined at a nearby hotel in its restaurant. I’ll start with our hotel, El Albergue’s restaurant.
While many tourist eateries in Peru’s Sacred Valley serve the same ubiquitous fare (pizza, burgers, sandwiches), the restaurant at El Albergue was different. It serves dishes featuring European and Peruvian flavors, with many of its ingredients coming straight from its own organic garden as well as in the Sacred Valley. Prices were perhaps a tad higher than some of the more informal dining spots in Ollanta’s Plaza de Armas (although not by much since I found all dining in Peru to be extremely inexpensive at least, by American standards) and yet the ambiance and service was definitely more upscale.
The restaurant at El Albergue is open to both hotel and non-hotel guests and reservations are recommended as the space itself is not very large. The menu is quite extensive and includes everything from starters to salads to soups to pastas and entrees. While we normally always order an appetizer when dining out, neither of us really “over ate” during our time in Peru, but especially at the beginning of the trip since it’s advised to eat light to help with altitude sickness.
For our first night there, I ordered the Stuffed Caihua (caihua is a wild cucumber) which was filled with tomatoes and onions and topped with a Peruvian cheese. It came with quinoa and potatoes. I ate a couple of vegetarian meals while in Peru and really enjoyed them. I was immensely happy to be stocking up on so many fresh vegetables.
D opted for the mole pepper steak. It came in two sizes. He went with the smaller portion but it was still quite a decent size of food I’d say.
We both ordered a cup of the Andean mint tea-we absolutely loved how the mint was literally straight from the mountains. With it being our first night there and feeling exhausted, a hot cup of tea hit the spot.
Along with two bottles of water, all of that came to $38 USD (around 90 soles).
We dined at El Albergue again on our final night and I’m glad we did. It was too nice and special a place not to.
We split the soup special of the day which was pumpkin. Delicious.
I ordered the smaller portion of the Garden Grilled Veggies pasta for my main course. It was still too much food, especially since I couldn’t take any home with me but once again, healthy and filling.
D was brave and tried alpaca, an alpaca burger to be exact. His entree came with fries and a salad, another enormous portion. He found it very tasty.
Although you would never know about the restaurant unless you had business at the hotel or had done research in advance, I’d highly recommend dining here even if you’re only passing through to or from Machu Picchu. It’s probably one of the best meals you’ll have in the Sacred Valley.
Address: Station Platform, Avenida Ferrocarril, Ollantaytambo
Telephone: +51 (0)84 204 014
Since we didn’t want to eat at our hotel three nights in a row, we decided to venture a little bit in search of something else. The restaurant at Hotel Pakaritampu was one of the closest places. In hindsight, I somewhat regret eating there.
In our entire time in Peru, this restaurant here was the only one that charged different rates for nationals (Peruvians) and foreigners. While I was used to this with plane tickets and other admission costs, I had never heard of restaurants doing it, especially one connected to a hotel which most likely caters more to foreign tourists than national ones. It wasn’t the biggest deal since as I stated above, costs were still very cheap, but it seemed tacky all the same since we’re talking about food.
Nothing on the menu really screamed out to me, so I decided to order a bowl of the quinoa soup with chicken, and a ham and cheese sandwich. My soup and D’s entree came but no sandwich. As I was feeling tired and not overly hungry by then I decided to just let it go. Not wanting to have an issue when the bill came, I tried to explain in Spanish to the waiter that since my sandwich was never brought, to just forget about it. I should have known something was up when a while later he asked me if I still wanted it to go. I said no. Fast forward to the bill, and of course, I was charged for the sandwich. I didn’t feel like fighting or saying anything further since it was a small amount of money but cultural misunderstanding, language confusion or no, I don’t want to be charged for something when it was never brought to me. It was further irritating since until I brought it up, no mention was ever made of my missing sandwich.
D ordered an Andean chicken that was stuffed with cheese. He seemed to like it once he got to the stuffed cheese part of things but otherwise wasn’t overly impressed.
The dining space was large and empty and you probably wouldn’t need reservations as we walked right in, however, unless you’re desperate, I really wouldn’t recommend dining at the Hotel Pakaritampu restaurant.
Av. Ferrocarril s/n Ollantaytambo
Two of the days we got small, quick bites to eat from two tiny cafes that were right near the gate entrance for the train station. Both were very nondescript and not at all fancy, but served decent and speedy fare. I had vegetable soup and fries at one, D a club sandwich, and on the second day, I had a plate of scrambled eggs and D ordered a hamburger. The second place did make delicious fruit juice, right from scratch. However, if you venture into a place advertising empanadas, make sure they have them before sitting down. We were disappointed after being seated and looking over the menu that they did not.
A mention for Heart’s Cafe
This was a spot I had really wanted to try as I much admire its mission-it is tied to Living Heart, a Peruvian/British charity that works to help rural communities situated high in the mountains around the Sacred Valley in the areas of nutrition, health, education, and conservation. Its food didn’t seem anything too special but I liked knowing that my dining dollars would be going towards something good. We didn’t make it there as I didn’t feel comfortable walking to it in the dark but if you have the chance, I would think it’s worth trying out.
Every Day – 7:00am to 10:00pm (Note: Last Order at 9pm)