South America isn’t the first place that comes to mind when planning a foodie adventure. Indeed, Europe and Asia are the most famous continents for gastronomy – with countries such as Italy and Thailand taking the cake. However, there is one outlier in Latin America and her name is Peru! Recently, Lima was named the “Gastronomic Capital of the Americas” and some of the country’s restaurants now rank among the world’s best. If you wish to devour the country’s diverse and delicious cuisine, this article outlines the best food tours in Peru to help you on your merry way.
The first thing to understand about Peruvian food is that it’s an eclectic mix of influences. Over the centuries, the fare in Peru evolved through the integration of several cultures including: the Inca Empire, Spanish conquerors, the arrival of African slaves from the Caribbean and Brazil, Arab/Moorish influences, and Chinese and Japanese immigrants. The Inca diet consisting largely of maize, potatoes and spices can still be found in many dishes today and, of course, we all know how the Japanese transformed the cookery with their raw fish skills culminating in ceviche.
Gastro tourists can dive into this rich culinary history, and so much more, on one of the food tours with Exquisito Peru. This flawlessly rated 5-star tour operator takes guests on journeys around the cities of Lima, Cusco and Arequipa. Founded by two expats, Emilie and Jessy, Exquisito Peru exists to showcase the country’s true colors through food. To achieve this, the expert local guides offer an award-winning recipe that combines authentic cuisine, historical info, sightseeing, storytelling, art and a social impact element through their Canada-based foundation “Impact Eat”.
From tastings in the bohemian Barranco neighborhood of Lima, to learning about the ancestral cocina of Arequipa – there is a tour suited for every type of traveler! These immersive journeys provided in both Spanish and English can be as short as two hours or as long as a full day, depending on what whets your appetite. The group size of each tour normally doesn’t exceed eight people which enables each individual participant to interact closely with the guide, hosts and guests. Private groups can also be accommodated for if you are traveling in a family or with a group of friends.
It’s important to leave plenty of room in your stomach beforehand because the cumulative servings on each experience constitute a large meal, plus there are alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages included. All of the classic Peruvian dishes are covered, such as ceviche and causa rellena, and exotic ones as well like guinea pig – a must-try when visiting Peru! Vegans and vegetarians are also welcome to book but should get in touch prior in order to request any specific dietary requirements. So, without further ado, let us now take a look at the best food tours offered by Exquisito Peru.
10 Best Food Tours in Peru
1. Lima Ultimate Peruvian Food Tour in Artsy Barranco
No less than 15 flavors will be sampled on this exciting food tour with Exquisito Peru. Barranco plays host to the four hours – known as the SoHo of Lima boasting colorful street art, tucked-away bars and hip coffee shops. While wandering around the streets, a combination of trendy and traditional spots will be visited. A highlight of the tour is conversing with local hosts, and learning how to make ceviche and pisco sour. The group also gets informed about the cultural context behind each bite. Make sure you bring your camera as there are many urban wonders in Barranco!
2. Street Food & Old Taverns Tour in Lima’s Historic Center
Seeing the colonial landmarks in the historic center of Lima is a bucket-list activity, and doing so in the old taverns and beside the street food stalls is even more special! That is the promise of this amazing four hour tour with Exquisito Peru. At each of the local food hotspots, you will be introduced to dishes that not many tourists know about – allowing you to connect with Peru’s culture on a deeper level. The stops are within walking distance, between five and 20 minutes each, and the guide takes you to some fascinating historical sites along the way to enliven the stroll.
3. Arequipa Food Tour: Ancestral Cuisine & City Tour
Exquisito Peru have this tour as a top pick and it’s easy to see why. Throughout the four hours, you will get the opportunity to try 17 Peruvian foods and drinks typical to the Arequipa region, and learn all about guinea pig and alpaca with friendly local hosts. This tour is perfect for visitors who have just arrived as you will be able to discover the historic center, as well as admire the views of Misti from the Yanahuara district – known for its beautiful buildings built from sillar (a pearly white volcanic rock). Swinging by Mercado San Camilo is another highlight of the outing!
4. Arequipa Bean to Bar Craft Chocolate Workshop
This craft chocolate workshop is a lovely way to spend the afternoon in the equally lovable city of Arequipa. During the three hours, you will learn about the history of cacao and how chocolate goes from bean to bar. The two tasting sessions in this workshop are hot chocolate – the way Atzecs used to make it – and chocolate itself. Both of these tastings involve getting your hands dirty a little bit in order to prepare the sweet treats. The shared group tour is led by an enthusiastic local chocolate expert who is well versed in all things chocolate and also passionate about Peruvian food!
5. Ollantaytambo Pachamanca & Weaving Experience
Beginning in Ollantaytambo, a six hour adventure awaits those who want to enjoy traditional dishes and see the Sacred Valley. After driving up the Patacancha Valley, guests partake in a weaving demonstration led by Quechua women. They welcome you into the village and run a workshop where you can try weaving. The next activity involves preparing an earth-oven lunch. You are required to dig a Pachamanca hole, build a fire and add ingredients to the pot. After lunch, even more fun is to be had with the local artisans but you will have to click the link below to find out!
6. Callao Food Tour: Fishermen Tales, Colors & Flavors
Callao used to be the main port of Peru, situated right by Lima, and today its connection to fishing and seafood is as strong as ever! On this five hour foodie extravaganza, you will be immersing yourself in a community of fishermen and seafood dishes. Meeting the small business owners who make up the “Patronato por la Cocina del Callao”, and joining them on a boat trip, is the experience of a lifetime! In addition to the sea and food attractions, you will get to marvel at old and new architectural styles on the coastline and hear fascinating stories from genuine characters.
7. Lima Gourmet Tour: Peruvian Biodiversity Food Experience
Cuisine stemming from the three ecosystems of Peru – jungle, mountains and coast – will be explored on this incredible five hour journey. The gourmet diversity on display allows you to travel around Peru without having to leave Lima. It starts with a workshop where guests learn about the ingredients from different regions of the country, which includes a fruit and chocolate tasting. The second stage revolves around the Andes, while the third offers delicious bites from the Amazon. To cap off the experience, seafood with a nikkei touch provides you with flavors from the Pacific.
8. Surquillo Market Tour, Huariques & Ceviche Cooking Class
For three thrilling hours, Exquisito Peru guides you through the buzzing Surquillo neighborhood of Lima (home to many hidden gems) and presents you with more than 12 flavors to wrap your lips around. The Surquillo market is where you will be tasting several fresh fruits and finding ingredients that are core to Peru’s gastronomy. Learning how to prepare ceviche, causa rellena and pisco sour with local hosts in a cooking class is certainly one of the highlights of the tour – as is wandering the streets and stopping at famous eateries such as Al Toke Pez and La Huerta Chinén.
9. Lima Vegan Peruvian Food Tour in Artsy Barranco
Vegans don’t need to look any further when it comes to food tours in Lima, as the team at Exquisito Peru has put together the ultimate eating adventure free of animal products! Barranco, regarded as one of Latin America’s coolest districts, is known for its quality vegan restaurants and those who follow the diet to the letter will simply be spoiled for choice here. Over 15 Peruvian foods and drinks are on the four hour agenda, plus the opportunity to converse with local hosts to prepare ceviche – but this time mushrooms are used in the world famous dish instead of fish.
10. Tasting Experience: Peruvian Wines and Artisanal Cheeses
Calling all wine and cheese lovers in Lima, this is the perfect little night tour for you! For a short period of two hours or less, in a private group setting, you will be introduced to a selection of artisanal Peruvian cheeses that originate from all corners of the country – including the Ancash, Junin, Cajamarca and Lima regions – and pair said cheeses with natural wines from the Ica, Tacna and Lima regions. A professional sommelier leads the tasting and shares stories about how the cow, goat and sheep cheeses are produced as well as getting you familiar with Peru’s underrated wine scene.