A large array of restaurants in Cuzco awaits you, from fine dinning to more rustic fare, from carefully planned creations by named chefs to fast food and street food. However, not all the streets are created equally for food offerings. None surpasses San Agustin street.
This narrow run, ensconced between Inca stone and colonial walls runs two blocks from the historically important Limacpampa Chico Square to Ruinas street, just off Cuzco’s Plaza de Armas, its main square. San Agustin is centrally located and holds a range of hotels and hostels, from some of the finest to some very simple and inexpensive places.
Its terminus is by the JW Marriott, named recently “South America’s Best New Hotel” in the 2014 World Travel Awards South America version. Its restaurant, Pirqa, specializes in excellent presentation and preparation of Peruvian ingredients and international taste.
At the street’s other end stands the Casa Andina Private Collection Hotel that won a Trip Advisor’s Traveller’s Choice Award in 2014. Its restaurant, Alma Cocina Viva, makes a similar offering to the Pirqa, of Andean ingredients and traditions in conversation with international cuisine.
In between you will find the well established San Agustin International Hotel with its Arcangel Restaurant and the Novotel with its Cave Restaurant, both working the same connection between Peruvian and International culinary arts.
Though this offering is outstanding in its own right, there is much more.
Across from the Marriott at the street’s mouth opens the Museo the Pisco, where you can taste the finest varieties of this indigenous Peruvian beverage along with outstanding small dishes of food. Since it opened this palace of Pisco, replete with tastings, has regularly filled.
The street also holds Cuzco’s finest French restaurant, Le Soleil, where the food makes your mouth water and leaves you satisfied with excellent fare.
Next to it has opened Bajosan, a Japanese Udon house. It serves without fuss or hybridizing simple and yet wonderfully perfumed broths with fresh udon noodles, along with a variety of sakis. This is a perfect place to go most any evening when the cold comes down into Cuzco and you feel it.
When I went there, I was told that the restaurant came from the Parisian tradition of making and serving udon and had the place had opened in association with Le Soleil. Besides the two restaurants, this group also offers a unique place to stay on a street bookended by quality. Their La Lune is a “one-suite hotel” that provides exquisite private attention and luxury. It claims to be the first to offer this service in South America, they claim.
If you wish to try the traditional cuisine of Cuzco, you have an option on San Agustin, on the Plaza side of Le Soleil. Deva Traditional Restaurant serves up helpings of dishes from Cuzco’s heart, whether its Inca or Spanish chambers, along with Cuzco’s award winning beer or fine Chilean wines.
On the other side of Le Soleil, you will find Trattoria La Nonna, an unassuming place with wooden benches and warmth from a brick oven that offers very good, hand crafted pizzas and pastas. Around the corner, just barely on Maruri street, Pizza Carlo continues the family tradition of good, hearty pizzas. Its sliding glass doors are right across the street from the entrance to the San Agustin Hotel.
As if all this were not enough, at lunch time, near the street’s mouth, an unassuming place opens in true Cuzco style for lunch by putting out a hand written sign that lists the dishes for its fixed meal of a soup and main course, along with a tea or other house-made drink. Nevertheless, the place does have a name, Manka (food in Aymara a language of the High Plateau), and claims to offer the best of Peruvian food. Its sign and presence suggest it is a kind of huarique, or Peruvian eatery much loved by its clients.
About half way towards the street’s beginning you will also find Kantu, named after the symbolically significant flower of Inca Cuzco. Kantu offers pizzas and some pastas, as well as a fixed course lunch, vegetarian food, and juices.
During the day time, across from the opening of Maruri Street and by the side of the narrow Cabracancha Street, you will find a small stand offering Don Chicho empanadas. These are the classic empanadas of Cuzco and Don Chicho makes sure to have stands all over the city.
Of course there are more hotels, including budget ones, whether on the street or just off it, as well as handicraft shops, and patios, interesting architecture, such as the doorway to the Casa de los Bustos, well carved Moorish balconies, and a variety of door knockers. This street was once famous for its leather workers and one shop still remains.
San Agustin is not only a street worth visiting, it is a wonderful place to stay and to eat. It may well be the best street in Cuzco for food.
Addresses of Restaurants Mentioned
Pirqa Restaurant, Corner of San Agustin with Ruinas Street
Museo del Pisco, Santa Catalina Ancha 398, Corner with San Agustin.
Bar Lounge, San Agustin 212
Manka, San Agustin 224
Cave Restaurant, San Agustin 239
Deva Restaurante Tipico, San Agustin 280
Le Soleil, San Agustin 275
Bajosan, San Agustin 275
Trattoria La Nonna, San Agustin 298
Pizza Carlo, Maruri 381, Corner of San Agustin
Chichos Empanadas Stand, Corner of Cabracancha and San Agustin
Arcangel Restaurante, Maruri 390, corner of San Agustin
Kantu, San Agustin 315-317
Alma Cocina Viva, Limacpampa Chico 473