What’s New in Cuzco Restaurants

Every time you open and close your eyes, it seems, a new restaurant opens in Cuzco and an old one closes.   Cuzco’s restaurant market is very active and dynamic.

We at Cuzco Eats have documented this change.  It is now almost four months since we first put our data base on line.  At the time it was completely current.  But now, it requires updating.

16% of the total restaurants in the city’s monumental core have either closed or opened.    However, there have been far more openings than closings.   73% of the changes are new restaurants.

Unfortunately some of the closed restaurants were favorites, such as Gabriel a beautiful coffee house restaurant with excellent coffee.   But last year tourism was down and, during the months when few tourists came, it was difficult to keep many places going.   Nevertheless, the number of closures turned out to be relatively small, only 17 or some 4% of the total.

Now the high season has increased the number of tourists strolling through Cuzco’s main square and, as a consequence, the numbers of people eating in its restaurants.   To take advantage of this sudden appearance of foreigners,  45 new restaurants have opened since last we checked.

The new venues for food include two that focus on Cuzco’s regional cooking and just happen to be on the Plaza de Regocijo, the square of joy: Chuwa–in the beautifully restored mansion called Qoriqente on Calle San Juan de Dios — and La Mila on Portal Espinar which opens onto the plaza itself.  Both are important additions.

They include a new name and new owner for an existing restaurant on Calle Arequipa — Dragon’s Palate  (formerly Two Nations) — next to the gallery Fractal Dragon which has rapidly become an important venue for serious Cuzco artists.

But they also include another Tabasco–the faux Mexican Cuzco chain that is becoming omnipresent, and a another sandwich shop knock off on the name of the American Hamburger Chain, Johnny Rocket (Marquez 211).

In our list, unfortunately, there are also two that we somehow did not get before, the excellent Picaronería Ruinas, on Calle Ruinas corner of Tullumayu, and another of the vegetarian chain El Encuentro (Calle Tigre 130.) Both have already been featured in this blog.

Lechuzo's Coffee
Lechuzo’s Coffee

Lechuzo’s Coffee adds to the growing list of coffee houses in Cuzco where one can enjoy some rich joe while sitting and checking listings in your guide book or writing post cards to send to friends.  It is located on the central Av. El Sol, just below the Qori Cancha, the ancient Temple of the Sun also known for the convent of Santo Domingo which sits on it.  A long and narrow space decorated with warm colors, it offers a range of coffees, other hot drinks, juices, and coffees with alcohol.

A subtle play on one of the words for owl, and hence wisdom as well as portents of the future, lechuza, this coffee house is a nice break  from the wides street and glaring sunlight of the Av. El Sol.  It is a great place to rest and revive while walking up to the main square from one of the fine hotels at the lower end of the street by the Paqcha, where the fountain marks the coming together of the two rivers and the end of Inca Cusco proper.

On the equally popular Plateros Street, one finds the substantial Tayta Inti.  Developed by chefs with experience in other Cuzco restaurants, Tayta Inti is broken into several spaces with different themes and offerings, although the main restaurant floor is what was the patio of this colonial mansion.  Despite the age of the building, the decor is modern and engaging with its surroundings, rather than the trite and cloying colonial that fills so many Cuzco spaces.   It’s food is generally excellent.

Risotto, Tayta Inti
Risotto, Tayta Inti

The leg of lamb and risotto we ordered were both succulent and flavorful.  But the supposedly French Onion Soup was a very pale imitation.

Tayta Inti offers an excellent selection of drinks from both its main bar as well as a special room dedicated to wine and wine tasting.

But, no list will appear without some disappointment.  In this case it was the Chifa San that opened on the also popular Maruri Street.  Although its personnel and staff spoke with strong Cantonese accents, the food had an off flavor and the open kitchen seemed lacking in hygiene, including raw chicken left in basins on open counters for long periods of time.

Lemon Chicken, Chifa San
Lemon Chicken, Chifa San

To not end on a sour note, let us mention two more venues.  On the second floor of a colonial building on Sunturwasi street (formerly known as Triunfo Street, as Cuzco’s leaders slowly return Quechua names to its very Hispanic streets), the Cafe Cafe.  A branch of a popular Miraflores (LIma) cafe, this place is beautifully appointed in bright, modern colors that give the place airiness and brilliance.  It offers not only a set price meal, with a delightful range of options–from gnochis in huancaina sauce, to chicken stroganoff, as well as a range of Novo-Andean and itnernational offerings.

Cafe Cafe, as its name notes, also hopes to be a coffee house that will bring tourists in to enjoy a well prepared cup of coffee, while checking email, and deciding on their next adventure.

Gnocchis, Cafe Cafe
Gnocchis, Cafe Cafe

Finally, perhaps the best of the new, is a whimsical artisan ice cream shop called El Hada (The Fairy) with a wonderland theme, including sometimes a woman dressed as a fairy with wings and crown to scoop up your ice cream, as well as a man in a top hat.

Fortunately, the best thing about El Hada is not its decor or theme.  The ice cream rules.  Well combined yet somewhat whimsical combinations of flavor, it is creamy and divine, especially when combined with waffle cones made in the moment in either lemon or vanilla flavors.  El Hada, also located in the Casa Qoriqente,  is a sumptuous yet zany treat you owe yourself.

El Hada Ice Cream
El Hada Ice Cream

Cuzco’s new restaurant offerings are signs of a continuing and growing restaurant scene that offers a wide range of possibilities for the visitor and local to enjoy.

Here is the list of new restaurants.  For more detail on them, where available, please use our updated Restaurant Search engine to the right of the blog.

La Mila Portal Espinar 190
Café Café Sunturwasi 370
Saqra Plateros 316
Jelly Rolls Plateros 372
Tayta Inti Plateros 354
Hatun Wasi Plateros 340
Rosie Grady’s Santa Catalina Ancha
Johnny Rocket Marquez 211
Ruinas Picaroneria Ruinas 200
Why not? Calle suecia 380
Triskel Calle Suecia 368
Bambu Procuradores 347
El Hada Calle San Juan de Dios 250
Chuwa Calle San Juan de Dios 250
Panaka Maruri 363-5
Chifa San Maruri 251
El Tronquito Choquechaca 152
Tabasco Choquechaca 124
El Secreto Sanbleño Chiwanpata 635
Chascafe Carmen Alto 133
Roks Tandatapa 101
Pan Tastico Tandapata 1024
Tartessos Calle Zetas 109
Dumbo’s Calle Teatro 336
Uchucuta Arcoiris 248
Qosqo Maki Tullumayo 465
Vida Sana Tullumayo 395
Govinda Calle Saphi 584
Chez Vigotes Av. Garcilaso 789
Sabor y Sabores Av. Garcilaso 198
Gold Star Teqsecocha 415
Lechuzos Coffee Av. El Sol 761
Amaya Av. El Sol 816
Rupay Wasi Nueva Alta 424
Tupanawasi II Teqsecocha 429-B
Yola Pardo 789
Dragon’s Palate Calle Arequipa 167
Tupanan Plateros 325
Bebo’s Calle Garcilaso 292
Ima Sumaq Procuradores 345
Tokapu Calle Ruinas 425
El Encuentro Calle Tigre 130
Govinda Lila Mercado San Blas s/n
Parra Calle Afligidos 124
El Horno de San Andres Puluchapata 128

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