With a menu initially designed by Peru’s iconic chef, Gastón Acurio, and a location in the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, La Trattoria del Monasterio (Santa Catalina 309, tel. 054/20-4062, noon–4 p.m. and 7–11 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun., US$7–15) was bound for success. But the clean white tablecloths, attentive service, and precise dishes have closed the deal. Some suggested specialties are tagliolini with lamb ragu (US$10), prawn risotto with artichokes and saffron (US$12), and the extraordinary and emblematic rocoto relleno de camarones, with pastel de papas (US$9). Verónica Luque, the owner, also runs a café inside the Santa Catalina Monastery and owns Cappricio.
Zíngaro Restaurant (San Francisco 309, tel. 054/21-7662, www.zingaro-restaurante.com, US$5–12) is a highly acclaimed restaurant, based in a colonial house, that serves an interesting fusion of Peruvian and Mediterranean gastronomy. Order anything from Novoandino selections or a filet mignon to trout or a delicious chupe de camarones (prawn chowder). Don’t miss the delicious coca or rocoto sours.
Zig Zag (Zela 210, tel. 054/20-6020, www.zigzagrestaurant.com, 6 p.m.–midnight, US$5–12) is a cozy place right across from Plaza San Francisco, with house specialties such as stone-cooked alpaca, ostrich, and lamb meat, which is served carpaccio-style or sizzling, on a stone slab. Its claim to fame is an iron spiral staircase supposedly built by Gustav Eiffel. Some diners have found this place a bit overrated. Try it and decide for yourself.
Chicha por Gastón Acurio (Santa Catalina 210, Int. 105, tel. 054/28-7360, www.chicha.com.pe, US$6–15) is the new go-to restaurant in town, with a very chic atmosphere and impeccable service. The food can be an explosion of flavors for the uninitiated in world cuisine, but the result of a fusion between Arequipeño, Mediterranean, and Asian flavors can be a blast. Cocktails are superb and desserts even better.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition