Middle Eastern food is not easy to find in Peru. But in Arequipa you have it, due to a century-old tradition of immigrants; all the restaurants are clustered around San Francisco Street.
El Turko I (San Francisco 216-A, tel. 054/20-3862, www.elturko.com.pe, US$3–5, oprn 24 hours) is the best place to go for a quick delicious bite at any time of the day and night. Whether it is a dönner kebab (US$2); a cacik salad, made with cucumber, yogurt, and garlic (US$3); patlicanli urfa, lamb meatballs with a veggie sauce and rice (US$4.60); or yaztürlüzü, a chicken and veggie stew (US$4.60), this place is worth every cent.
El Turko II (San Francisco 315, tel. 054/21-5729, www.elturko.com.pe, 8 a.m.–midnight daily, US$5–12) is the older sister of Turko I—a real gem. With a smart decor in the restaurant, hummus, falafel, eggplant dishes, and lamb are just a few items on the delicious Turkish menu. For dessert, the baklava with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (US$4.50) is just like heaven.
The Moroccan resto-lounge Ras El Hanout y los 40 Sabores (San Francisco 227, tel. 054/22-7779, www.raselhanout40.com, 9 a.m.–11 p.m. Mon.–Sat., US$7–12) is the creation of a Peruvian family with a Moroccan past. The restaurant serves traditional-style tagines, salads, lamb brochettes, harira soup, couscous, and mint tea, of course. It is the second Moroccan restaurant in South America.
Creperie Zig Zag (Santa Catalina 208, tel. 054/20-6620, www.zigzagrestaurant.com, US$3–5) is inside the colonial house of the Alliance Française. In this tiny café, with a definite French atmosphere, you can watch as your crepes are made. There is a menu of salty and sweet crepes.
Paquita Siu (Calle Granada 102, Urb. Los Sauces, Cayma, tel. 054/25-1915, noon–4 p.m. and 6–11 p.m. Mon.–Sat., noon–5 p.m. Sun., US$5–20) is without doubt the best place to enjoy first-rate Chinese, Japanese, and Thai food. The one responsible for such an incredible culinary experience is Martín Ortiz Siu, an experienced chef who lived 10 years in London, son of legendary culinary figure Paquita Siu. The menu includes a spicy panang, Thai green curry (US$10), prawn tempura with teriyaki sauce (US$11), and an arroz chaufa especial (fried rice, US$4), among at least 60 dishes from these three different cuisines.
There are several restaurants with rooftop and sidewalk seating on Pasaje La Catedral, the charming pedestrian alley behind the cathedral. The best views are at Mixto’s (Pasaje La Catedral 115, tel. 054/20-5343, 9 a.m.–10 p.m. daily, US$4–7). The menu offers everything from cebiche to pastas to pizzas. Next door, La Trufa (Pasaje La Catedral 111, tel. 054/40-5290, 9 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, US$3–7) has good pasta, chicken curry, seafood, and great service. Live folkloric music is featured Monday–Saturday from 7 p.m.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition