Gastronomy of Arequipa: ¿What to eat?

Arequipa, one of the most successful and thriving regions in southern Peru, is situated between the coasts and the Andes. It is a magical place with valleys, mountains, and a rich history of ancient civilizations, as well as a strong Hispanic heritage. It is likely home to the best cuisine in southern Peru.

Some research indicates that Arequipa boasts around 194 varieties of typical dishes and 11 beverages, primarily using locally sourced products. Its culinary tradition has influences from indigenous, Spanish, and Asian origins.

1. Gastronomic Customs

One of the culinary customs in Arequipa is related to the days of the week. The majority of restaurants and “picanterías” (traditional Spanish-influenced restaurants) typically prepare a specific dish for each day of the week.

  • Monday: Chaqué
  • Tuesday: Chairo
  • Wednesday: Chochoca
  • Thursday: Chupe colorado or chuño
  • Friday: Chupe de viernes
  • Saturday: Puchero or Timbusca
  • Sunday: White broth and/or Adobo arequipeño

2. The most famous dishes:

Arequipa boasts excellent cuisine, with common dishes including soups, “chupes” (a traditional seafood soup), and various dishes based on meat, fish, chicken, alpaca, and the famous guinea pig (Andean rodent).

It is a region with incomparable and unique cuisine, distinguished by its high quality, a variety of flavors, incredible preparation including spices, spicy sauces, a range of Andean products, and, of course, its exquisite spiciness in dressings.

You will discover why Arequipa has an outstanding culinary specialty. Below, we mention the most popular dishes of Arequipa:

2.1 Ocopa

La Ocopa arequipeña is the most recognized dish in Peru and abroad. It is prepared with a sprig of Huacatay (aromatizing plant), mirasol chili, yellow chili, peanuts, vanilla cookies or bread, evaporated milk, fresh cheese, garlic, and seasonings. It is served with boiled potatoes, a hard-boiled egg, and an olive.

2.3 Rocoto Relleno (stuffed hot pepper)

El rocoto relleno is a dish originating from Arequipa and is one of the most popular dishes in Peru. It involves stuffing the rocoto with the following ingredients: ground beef and pork peanuts, egg, garlic, tomato, raisins, olives, sugar, parsley, Andean cheese, oil, salt, pepper, and others.

2.4 Cauchi

Cauchi is native to the gastronomy of Arequipa; it is almost always accompanied by boiled and peeled sliced potatoes.

2.5 Solterito Arequipeño

It is a colorful and delicious dish, prepared with fava beans (a legume), corn, chopped onion, chopped rocoto, fresh cheese, chopped olives, diced tomatoes, and other ingredients. Mix all the ingredients with vinegar, a spoonful of chopped parsley, salt, and pepper to taste. If you like, you can accompany it with lettuce.

2.6 Chupe de Camarones (Shrimp soup)

It is a Creole soup originating from Arequipa, a very nutritious, powerful, hearty, and delicious dish. It is prepared with river shrimp from the southern coast of Peru and is served with a rocoto sauce or pieces of fried bread.

2.7 Cuy Chaqtado

It is a traditional dish from the southern regions of Peru, prepared in the regions of Arequipa, Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Cusco, and Puno.

2.8 Chairo

It is a soup prepared in Arequipa, Puno, and Cusco; each region has its own culinary characteristics, and some ingredients may vary depending on the location.

2.9 Adobo Arequipeño

It is usually prepared in a clay pot to enhance its robust flavor and is served accompanied by sweet potato or regular potato.

3. Interesting facts about Arequipa’s gastronomy

  • Many Arequipeño dishes were created to satisfy the tastes of Spaniards, traders, military personnel, and priests in past times.
  • The Peruvian and Arequipeña gastronomic diversity has been a driving force to promote traditions, customs, and ancestral culture to the farthest corners of the world.
  • Arequipeña cuisine boasts an excellent culinary specialty, known for its spiciness and abundant seasoning.
  • In Arequipa’s villages, ingredients are ground using a ‘batán’ (a flat stone), where the ingredients are placed to be crushed by another rounded stone.

4.The best tourist restaurants in Arequipa

In Arequipa, there are several restaurants that offer a delightful gastronomic experience, combining rich local culinary traditions with local ingredients and innovative techniques. Below, we will show you some of the most prominent tourist restaurants in “The White City of Arequipa”:

  • La Trattoría del Monasterio: It’s located in the Monasterio de Arequipa Hotel, it offers an elegant gastronomic experience with Arequipeño, Peruvian, and international dishes.
  • Zig Zag Restaurante: It offers a fusion of traditional flavors, with its daily menu featuring local ingredients and presenting creative dishes in a cozy atmosphere.
  • Chicha por Gastón Acurio: It’s part of the restaurant chain by renowned Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio, Chicha offers a modern reinterpretation of classic Peruvian dishes.
  • La Nueva Palomino: It’s famous for its grill and meat specialties, also widely known for offering authentic Arequipeña cuisine in a cozy and traditional atmosphere.
  • Sol de Mayo: It’s located in the Plaza de Armas, it is known for its typical Arequipeño dishes, such as El Rocoto Relleno and El Adobo. You will enjoy Arequipeña cuisine with a beautiful panoramic view.
  • El Tío Dario: A restaurant that combines the culinary tradition of Arequipa with a friendly atmosphere. It offers a wide variety of Arequipeño dishes.
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