While Lima is known as being one of the best food cities in Latin America (and possibly the world) which equates to a plethora of amazing restaurants there with even more amazing and renowned chefs, there was one restaurant I didn’t want to miss out on and that was Huaca Pucllana. If you stumbled over its name don’t worry, huaca is not a Spanish term but rather a Quechua one (an Amerind language). Huacas were once ceremonial sites in pre-Colombian times, cultural centerpieces. Pucllana most likely comes from the Quechua word “pucllay” meaning games, so when translated in its entirety, it is “a place for ritual games.”
Now that we’ve had our Quechua language lesson of the day-on to what Huaca Pucllana means for today’s visitors. It’s a great adobe and clay pyramid located in the Miraflores neighborhood and was built from seven staggered platforms. So yes, while you can definitely tour the huaca, you can also dine at its restaurant there (of the same name) which overlooks the ruins.
Huaca Pucllana offers two dining areas-an indoor one and one located outside immediately adjacent to the ruins. I had made my reservation weeks in advance and was able to secure a space outside. However, rather at the last minute our plans ending up changing as we were going to meet our Peruvian friend who lives in Lima for dinner there. So, when I went to change the reservation there weren’t any tables for three people outside, only inside (I found this hard to believe but you can’t exactly argue with the Peruvian equivalent of OpenTable). While I was incredibly disappointed by this, it really worked out okay. The interior dining room was lovely and charming in its own way (vaulted ceilings, unique decor, and awesome people watching), not to mention it was warmer. As I’ve mentioned previously, I visited Peru during its winter and while it was not even remotely close to the type of winter I am accustomed to, it could still be “chilly” enough at night. We did however, go outside once finished to take pictures by the pyramids and just gaze at the “what a sight” that lay before our eyes.
Being a more “expensive” restaurant by Peruvian standards, service was top notch with waiters also dressed as such (in old-school black jackets and bow ties). And also being Peru, nothing was rushed, everything was at your leisure (we had long finished our meal and just sat at the table). For a Thursday night it was mobbed with people, both inside and out, and clearly it is the place to go if you’re a foreigner or you’re a local who has guests in town you want to impress.
The menu at Huaca Pucllana offers an eclectic selection of dishes but it was the Peruvian favorites that D and I both chose. For my main course I ordered their variation of “Tacu Tacu”. Tacu Tacu is a dish comprising black beans and rice (it was supposedly the meal of the African slaves during colonial times) and also included a piece of rib-eye steak, a fried egg and a plantain. It was more food than I could possibly eat but I enjoyed it all the same.
D opted for the Aji Gallina, as he had yet to try it on the trip. This famous chicken dish with the bright yellow sauce (a result of the aji peppers that are used) is one of my two favorite Peruvian dishes even though I have yet to make it myself.
For dessert we split the the Chocolate Volcano which was accompanied by vanilla ice cream and sesame tulle and camu camu coulis.
And even at a place as fancy and well-regarded as this, for three entrees, two desserts, three beers and a cocktail, the bill still came out to less than $100. Can you imagine that being the case in Western Europe or the United States?
Since we only had time in Lima for one “memorable” dinner, I chose Huaca Pucllana and I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. It offered good food along with an unforgettable ambiance. If you find yourself in the Peruvian capital, I’d recommend dining here in a heartbeat. There really is nothing else like it.
Calle General Borgoño cuadra 8 S/n Lima, Peru