When I first started making tentative plans for my trip to Peru, I hoped to be able to eat at Astrid y Gastón, a famous restaurant with an even more famous Peruvian chef extraordinaire, Gastón Acurio. However, with having little more than a day in Peru’s capital city of Lima, I came to the conclusion that spending three hours feasting on a multiple course meal would probably not be the best way to spend my time since I did want to actually do some touring there (although I’m sure my stomach wouldn’t have objected). After discovering that there was in fact a Gastón Acurio restaurant in Cusco, a place where we would not have as rushed an experience, it seemed like a decent enough plan B. And that’s how we ended up dining at Chicha.
Chicha is a traditional drink, typically made from different varieties of corn (there are after all dozens upon dozens of corn types in Peru), and has been served alongside Peruvian cuisine since before the Inca. So if you’re wondering what is the type of food that is served at Chicha-well, it’s traditional food, just with a twist. Although it’s hardly a “tourist trap” restaurant, its menu was available in both English and Spanish, a testament to the fact that the name Gastón Acurio has become a global phenomenon in the culinary world. The menu is also organized according to the origination of the food-either from the water, the land, the country, the world, or Cusco. There were plenty of Peruvian favorites on the menu including causa (mashed native potatoes that were topped with a variety of ingredients, ceviche, and guinea pig, the dish that turns many travelers like myself slightly green.
While I had planned to dine at Chicha for lunch on our first day in Cusco, plans got changed and we ate there on our second day instead. You can make reservations online although your reservation is confirmed only when you get an actual email back from the restaurant (it’s not automated). Instead I just asked our hotel to make one, which they happily did for us. We made it the day of and were able to get a table with no problem. This was for lunch, not dinner, so perhaps this is different.
The restaurant is located less than a five minute walk from the Plaza de Armas, overlooking the very lovely and not as tourist populated Plaza de Regocijo. It’s located on the second floor of a centuries-old whitewashed house, with blue-painted balconies that I saw a lot throughout Cusco (simply lovely). To get to the second floor, you had to walk through a stunning, typically Latin American plaza. This area was eerily deserted and really made you feel as if you were going into someone’s home. While the building’s outside is very traditional and historic looking, the inside is another matter-the walls are painted a rather prominent light purple hue and everything about it screams modernity.
For my entree, I selected the Adobe de Cerdo (Pork Adobo), which was prepared in a classic Cusco style. I didn’t love my dish. The broth was certainly tasty but the pork pieces were extremely large, making them difficult to cut, and overall, I just wish I had ordered something else. I’ve made chicken adobo before (the Filipino version), and I guess I thought it would be somewhat similar to that. It was probably more me with my disappointment in ordering than the actual dish.
D selected the Rotisserie Chicken, which honestly made me all the more sad on what I had ordered. The amount of chicken he got was obscene but his meal also came with fries and vegetables.
I finally ordered a Chicha Morada (purple corn drink), which I had been wanting to try the whole time we had been in Peru thus far. It was delicious.
We also were given complimentary mini starters and desserts, both of which were extremely tasty.
Yes, for Peru this was expensive and many people on TripAdvisor complained about the high cost, but dining at a celebrity chef’s restaurant is never cheap no matter where you are in the world. However, our lunch (plus two bottles of water and D’s beer), still came out to only about $40 USD.
I definitely thought my lunch the day before at Inka Grill was a lot better than Chicha’s, but as I said, I ordered poorly. I would however, be game for a do-over sometime.
Gorgeous views offered of Plaza Regocijo from the restaurant’s balcony
Note: There’s another Chicha location in the colonial city of Arequipa.
Plaza Regocijo 261, second level