On my recent trip to Peru, I was determined to try cuy (guinea pig), a local delicacy. But not just anywhere. I wanted the best, so I went to Pachapapa – considered one of the finest restaurants in Cusco.
Location: Plazoleta de San Blas 120, Cusco, Peru. Pachapapa is in the artsy San Blas neighborhood, directly in front of the San Blas Cathedral in Cusco. It’s just a few minutes’ walk from the Plaza de Armas – the historic colonial center of the city.
Menu: Pachapapa has a diverse and delicious menu of traditional Peruvian cuisine and a list of unique specialty drinks. They also serve pizza and calzones.
Thoughts: Peru is famous for its Andean dishes made with guinea pig and alpaca. Peru is famous for its Andean dishes made with guinea pig and alpaca. My friend, Alison, is a vegetarian but agreed to accompany me on my quest for cuy. During the previous week in Peru’s Sacred Valley with AdventureSmith Explorations, I’d had opportunities to sample small bites of guinea pig, but I passed them up – I was holding out for the whole experience, i.e. the entire rodent, served up on a platter.
We walked to Pachapapa from our hotel near Cusco’s historic center, purportedly the best restaurant for Peruvian food. Passing through the exterior door, you’re immediately enveloped in a cozy, rustic open-air courtyard, with river rock flooring and wooden picnic-style tables and benches shaded by individual canopies. At the back is an open grill and hearth. It was a chilly night, so we chose a large table near one of the outside heaters.
“To stay at this large table, you may be joined by other customers,” warned our waiter. “Or, you can choose a smaller table in the center of the restaurant.”
We decided to take our chances with other diners. Why not?
I investigated the menu and immediately realized my folly….a whole oven-roasted cuy has a prep time of one hour! I talked Alison into waiting by plying us both with their $10 specialty drinks for the duration. I had a delicious beverage called Q’ori Wayra – vodka, fresh passionfruit juice, triple sec liquor, and lime juice, served in a martini glass.
A family of three came and sat with us. Much to our surprise, they were Americans – the only other Americans we’d seen during our entire trip to Peru. They were very friendly and we chatted amicably, exchanging stories of our adventures in Peru while waiting for my much-anticipated entrée.
Finally, my meal came, and I was not disappointed. The presentation was superb! The cuy had a delicious spicy, crispy skin, with a savory, slightly gamey meat underneath.
Even though guinea pig is a small animal, a whole one was too much for me. Alison wasn’t interested, but I shared my dish with our dinner partners, who were curious to try such a bizarre dish.
Here are some of Pachapapa’s entrées:
- cuy horniado con hucatay y ají panca (whole guinea pig roasted with the Peruvian herb huacatay and hot yellow pepper)
- anticuchas de alpaca (skewers of tender alpaca heart marinated in local spices)
- seco de cordero (slow cooked lamb stewed in beer and herbs)
- adobo de chancho (tangy pork stew)
- pachamanca (a stew with different meats slow roasted underground with native potatoes and aromatic herbs)
Price Range: Main courses range from $10 to $22 for the whole guinea pig.
Author Bio: Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer, founder of the award-winning baby boomer travel blog Luggage and Lipstick, and the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone.” Patti has over 150 bylines in 40 online and print publications, including The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, International Living Magazine, Travel Girl Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal.