September 8, 2022
Surrounded by the Holy Trinity of Misti, Chachani, and Pichu Pichu (all surrounding volcanoes), the city of Arequipa is the perfect destination for every brand of traveler. This remarkable place is known as the White City thanks to the white volcanic stone used in much of its historic architecture, such as the Plaza de Armas. Founded in 1540 and serving as a cultural hub throughout the region, it has developed its own personality with unique features that carry on today.
It is a city Andean Experience also calls home, with the former sillar stone monastery and current Parador CIRQA – located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Centre – serving as our base. The effortless blend of past traditions and modern nuances provides an unrivalled foundation for seeing Arequipa and southern Peru, and we take pride in curating incomparable tours through our celebrated city. Serving guests from arrival to departure comes naturally, as does introducing them to the charm and magic of Arequipa.
Set in the south of Peru roughly 100 kilometres inland from the Pacific Ocean, Arequipa has had a profound impact on the development of the country, including its cuisine. The geography of the region promotes a wide range of foods, flavours, and ingredients, many of which have informed other fares around the world. Rocoto relleno was born in Arequipa, and the stuffed pepper is even better with pastel de papa on the side. Beef (estofado de res) and pork (adobo) dishes highlight many menus, with ocopa and other sauces perfect to pour over Peruvian potatoes. Even seafood like shrimp and trout are plentiful thanks to the nearby rivers and the proximity to the Pacific. A simple coffee date in a cafe is enchanting, but a universe of undeniably delicious food is at your fingertips.
Without further ado, here are our top restaurants to feast in when visiting Arequipa.
Above the high bar set by the city, the monastery origins of CIRQA push it into the top spot for unprecedented eats. Impeccable design dots the antique pillars in the dining room, with chandeliers blooming above long tables. You can feel the hum of the ancient city in the room, somehow moving you through its history. The food itself carries you the rest of the way, but the intrigue of the space is a brilliant set up.
Fresh local ingredients and a bond with the past make CIRQA a fundamentally Arequipenean restaurant. Chef Maria Fé García pays tribute to her grandmother’s recipes while intermingling definitive flavours into the dishes. With rocotitos rellenos and adobo de cerdo leading the way, she offers Arequipenean takes on foodie favourites like squid ink pasta, salmon, and even mille-feuille for dessert. Excellent drinks help set the mood for the perfect night – whether resting up for a Colca Canyon trail or simply dining in the paradigm of clean glamour.
Address: C. Sucre 104, Arequipa 04001, Peru
Defining itself as “cult food from Arequipa,” La Benita de los Claustros is a cult you’ll want to join. The authentic Peruvian food, housed in the white stone at the heart of the city, is spice-forward, steeped in tradition and unabashedly Arequipenean, making it a sure bet for travellers in search of a delicious meal. The namesake, La Benita, has made it a point to use traditional cooking practices – like crushing peppers on ancient stones to incorporate ingredients – to bring the most genuine tastes to life. Within the Historic Centre of Arequipa, this is a must.
As picanterias declined during the 20th century, La Benita de los Claustros opened in 2015 to provide the spicy classics that made Arequipenean culture so distinct. You can taste the history in dishes like estofado de res de la chicha while perched at elegant wooden tables. Sustainable seafood dishes (think celador de camarón) rest on the menu beside simple classics like arroz con pato, offerings that will sate every hunger. One of the most sincere options for Arequipenean and south Peruvian meals, La Benita will take you back to the origins of the city’s gastronomy.
Address: interior 13 Claustros de la Compañia de Jesus 1° patio Cercado de, Gral. Móran 118, Arequipa 04001, Peru
Just north of the Historic Centre, in the Yanahuara District, you can find La Nueva Palomino, also built from the sillar stone so prevalent in the city. While it does feature the Andean fried guinea pig (yes, cuy is a thing), it is a picantería that invites everyone to enjoy the region’s delicacies.
Within its walls with long tables and neatly patterned tablecloths, wooden plaques share space with national flags. The term “classics” do not do this local favourite justice; you can find ocopa and chupe de camarones, the latter of which comes highly recommended here. The casual setting further promotes the unique atmosphere of Arequipa. Do not forget to try the chicha de guiñapo, a beer fermented with purple corn – a process that is ever so Arequipenean. For a truly Arequipenean lunch to help double-down on a Peruvian excursion, we know La Nuevo Palomino will do the job.
Address: Leoncio Prado 122, Yanahuara 04000, Peru
Pizza is fair game in Arequipa, but don’t worry, Las Gringas turns it into an archetypal regional food that hits you in the taste buds. Artisanal wood fires are just the beginning in bringing an Italian classic into the gastronomical scene in Peru. By using local ingredients, a conscious effort to include Andean superfoods, and even offering gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options, they really have gone above and beyond what it means to be a positive part of the community. We proudly enjoy these pizzas because we know the investment that they’ve made to provide good feeling foods to the city.
The pizzas at Las Gringas can also speak for themselves. Authentic yet creative, nibble on thin, crispy crust pies, featuring classic prosciutto and arugula, exciting blueberry, farm-to-table fromage – the list goes on. They have events in their cosy and accommodating dining room, craft beers and cocktails from a lively bar, and the Arequipenean setting of wood, stone, and rich history.
Address: Santa Catalina 204, Cercado De Arequipa 04001, Peru
With so many gorgeous monasteries and churches in the Historic Centre, it should come as no surprise that a spot like 13 Monjas became so popular. As beautiful as it is delicious, this incredible kitchen leads with passionate cooking and an unwavering commitment to Arequipenean dishes. Serving up a little bit of everything, from pizza to alpaca and back to lamb, you enjoy the environment with friends and laughter – the Peruvian way. Their artisanal pasta with almonds and roasted peppers is famously delectable.
Contemporary artworks style the sillar walls, and candelabras with ever-burning wax candles add to the mouth-watering appeal of the food. The rustic beauty is present in the food, the décor, and even the service. Even at the heart of such an eclectically stunning city, we feel like true Arequipa natives the moment we enter the building. Even if you don’t walk in through the large wooden doors, you can enjoy a patio meal over stone streets or in the chequered courtyard, centred with a fountain. One of the best experiences you are bound to have in Arequipa.
Address: Calle Santa Catalina 300b1, Arequipa 04001, Peru
They started operating with the mantra, “Happy bellies, full hearts,” and MUMIS has since built a reputation for delivering just that to the people in Arequipa. For travellers looking for an unassuming yet unforgettable meal, this is the place. A clinical name set against an oceanic blue wall takes you into a dining area playing with shadow and light. Lush chairs are set across from comfy banquets, and the patio seating is just as thoughtful. You can’t help but be romanced by the ambience, setting the tone for the meal itself.
House-made pastas are in their own league here, so travellers headed to Arequipa better have their Instagram ready. MUMIS has doubled down on creating regionally unique ingredients that come to life in their dishes, whether it’s the house focaccia, the shrimp chowder risotto, or the Arequipenean stew ravioli. Pro tip: order the burrata of the day to compliment your pasta, and a glass of wine. Though the Italian flair is present, everything is undoubtedly Arequipenean in this restaurant, and it is sure to enrich your experience in this amazing city.
Address: C. Sucre 202, Arequipa 04001, Peru
Perched further north in the Cayma District, Salamanto digs into the surroundings of its neighbourhood with unrivalled visual draw. Dining on the terrace opens to the picturesque valley; a thatched roof protects you from the sun as you look out at the surrounding volcanoes of Arequipa. Presented on white tablecloths, dishes arrive with the thoughtful touch of a chef who cares about every aspect of the experience. Even the friendly bartenders know how to create, prepare, and present a drink that will keep you snapping pictures throughout the afternoon.
The dishes are outstanding, and Salamanto makes each course arrive as a work of art. The classics are all there – alpaca loin, ocopa cream and Andean cheese over local trout, cuy chactado – and they are done very well. Under no guise and created with an aim to please, you will feel at the centre of the experience in a once-in-a-lifetime setting. Worth a trip to a local neighbourhood, this place is one of our favourites for perfect views and satisfying flavours.
Address: Mirador de Carmen Alto s/n, Cayma 04017, Peru
As you look inside the pristine dining room of Zig Zag, just north of the Plaza de Armas in Arequipa’s Historic Centre, you can’t help but feel as if you are about to embark on an adventure. We love the ways this place can impress, be it the winding iron staircase, the white stone arched dining area, or the lounge area with sofa seating. The aesthetic jewels appear at every turn, with the intention to increase your appreciation of the meal before you.
The dishes evoke tastes from a distance, though they are steeped in the classic Arequipenean traditions. Starting with truchitas or albondigas del Altiplano for a true regional treat, you can expand on mains from the Andes like beef, lamb, or alpaca. For anyone interested in an item from farther away, Zig Zag has a dish or two from the Alps, paying homage to European intricacies that have made their way into the Peruvian mould.
Address: C. Zela 210, Cercado De Arequipa 04001, Peru
The south of Peru is an experience unlike any other, and Arequipa’s profound connection to its culture is a main reason for that. It is so unique in all the right ways, and it is the perfect way to enjoy both the completion of an adventure and the start of a new one.Surrounded by the Holy Trinity of Misti, Chachani, and Pichu Pichu (all surrounding volcanoes), the city of Arequipa is the perfect destination for every brand of traveller. This remarkable place is known as the White City thanks to the white volcanic stone used in much of its historic architecture, such as the Plaza de Armas. Founded in 1540 and serving as a cultural hub throughout the region, it has developed its own personality with unique features that carry on today.