La Merced has three safe and well-known restaurants, all lined up near the main square and specializing in jungle cooking, including cebiche made from doncella fish as well as deer or wild pig dishes. The first, Los Koquis (Tarma 376 interior, tel. 064/53-1536, 6:30 a.m.–11 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun., US$3–6), has excellent comida criolla.
The second, Shambari-Campa (Tarma 389, tel. 064/53-2842, US$3–6), has an even more extensive menu and an interesting series of old historical photos on the wall.
The third, El Sabroso is next door with a similar menu but a cleaner, less cluttered interior.
For dessert, head to Dulcería La Encantada (Tarma 252), which serves delicious apple pie.
The quieter San Ramón also has two excellent options. If you are leery of the sketchy sanitary habits of most chifas, you can dive in head first at Felipe Siu (Progreso 440, tel. 064/33-1078, 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. and 6–11 p.m. daily, US$3–5). This charming, decades-old establishment is known for pollo chijau kay (fried chicken with ginger sauce) and limón kay (strips of chicken in lemon sauce).
Meat eaters can find everything grilled to perfection at El Parral (Uriarte 355, tel. 064/33-1128, noon–4 p.m. and 6–11 p.m. daily), which also has a bar and the recommended Hospedaje El Parral next door.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition