Central Restaurant in Peru: dining in Lima

As I have already commented on the blog, apart from a lot of Finland (which I love), I am going to talk more about other places I traveled to and find interesting to write about. And I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to tell you about my visit to the Central Restaurant in Lima, Peru.

If you want, check out a selection I made of restaurants in Helsinki, and the Michelin-starred Finnish restaurants (ES).

The Central Restaurant

A friend who was there told me about it.

It is one of the five best restaurants in the world (it has been around position 5 for years, one up or down) but at a price that – saving a little money on the way and if you like to spend money on eating – almost everyone can afford.

A central restaurant website snapshot
Website of the Central Restaurant.

It is also on the list of the best sustainable restaurants in the world (you know we try to compensate and offset CO2 when we travel)

The Central Restaurant (website) of Lima is run by chef Virgilio Martinez, and has been open in the Barranco neighborhood – a classic neighborhood that the young bohemian have taken by a storm, a bit like Kreuzberg in Berlin – for several years, delighting diners.

It has appeared in one of the episodes of Netflix’s “Chef’s Table“, in which Chef Martinez visited the places where he gets the ingredients from and showcases the restaurant and its philosophy. Here is a video.

Making a reservation in the Central

It just coincided that this year the trip to Peru was going to be to escape the dark and cold winter in northern Europe. And that also coincided with my birthday.

Because of the good feedback that my friend gave me, and because I could just book such a great dinner for my birthday, it was easy to do it. Reservations can be made through its website (you, as us, we chose not to make an upfront payment).

In the reservation you are given the choice of menu (the “short” one contains 13 dishes, and the long one 16), with the concept of tasting foods of the different heights that are to be found in Peru.

Central Restaurant Menu
The menu of the restaurant.

My experience in the Central Restaurant

I have been to nice and tasty places and tried interesting foods in my trips, but never been to one of the world’s top restaurants.

And the Central restaurant didn’t fail to deliver: the night was fantastic. The space is very well designed, with not too many tables at a good distance from each other, so you have a good space to enjoy. There is a huge window into the kitchen, where you can see the kitchen team almost dancing, as they know their motions very well and it feels like they flow through their work. We peeked often to see what they were doing, and to see Virgilio in action, and we were pleased with this big window.

The staff is polite and knowledgeable. Don’t be afraid to ask them anything about the food or to repeat something to you (as sometimes the normal level of conversations around you will make you miss something).

In terms of food, the chef plays – apart from the heights where the ingredients are found – with textures, temperatures and other variables. The different dishes come at a nice pace, so you can take your time to appreciate each dish’s merits while not having to wait a lot for the next one.

Not all of the 16 dishes we tried were extremely rich and tasty and the best we have tried in our life: this is one of the thing one learns the first time that they go to a world-famous restaurant. The concept (food from different habitats), the techniques, and the presentation they all play a part on each dish, as they are also a piece of art. But it was very interesting to hear the story behind each dish and know how all the ingredients come together from a given ecosystem.

My favorite dishes were the sea urchin, cooked to perfection and something I’ve never tried before. I couldn’t believe something I that looks a bit alien on a plate, and not offered in a lot of restaurants could taste so well. As well, I loved the pure percebe clams, which – as far as I could tell – were cooked with the sferification technique and they exploded in my mouth delivering loads of amazing taste.

Eating Piranha in the Central Restaurant
Sometimes the Piranha eats you, and some others you eat the Piranha (or, more acuratelly, what lies on top of it made with Piranha parts)

It seems that the more aquatic side of the Peru ecosystem was the one that left me the happiest food-wise. As you can see from the picture of the Piranhas above.

It was like traveling through Peru with your mouth. And it was a good preview of dishes we would try later on in Arequipa, Cuzco, Titicaca Lake… Concretely, we had a meal in the Amanantí island prepared from an indigenous family, which used a lot of the same ingredients as Chef Martinez’s one.

As a last note, we said “what the hell, let’s go for it” and asked for the wine pairings with the food. Even as fantastic as it was, in the end we ended up a bit tipsy and lost a little focus on the dishes, and I personally think I wouldn’t ask for it if I go to Central again. But of course, is totally up to you.

All and all, it was an amazing birthday dinner that I will remember for a long time.

What did you think of this post? Would you like us to encourage you to tell you more about our trip to Peru last January?



Must-see places in Budapest in a weekend (3)

This is the last post of the series about our long weekend in Budapest . It is the day that made us the best time and we took advantage of everything we could see the great monuments and buildings of the city that we had left.

You can check out the first part and the second part of this mini-series.

Budapest with sun and heat: our third day

Our last day in Budapest we set off to check out and take advantage of the sun that had been elusive so far in the city. Our train-bed went out at night, so you had to pick up everything at the AirBnB and leave your bags at the train station ticket booths (easy and very spacious) to be able to go around the city without loading much. We would have liked to go to the free tour that included the Budapest Card in the Buda area, but it did not give us time to arrive.

After these “duties” we went directly to the City Market, south of Pest (address: Vámház krt. 1-3. Map). We had strongly recommended the Lángos – a fried bread at the moment on which they put the ingredients you want and a mountain of cheese, and that is a good bite to fill you with energy through the city. (If you want to know more, check out our post on where to eat in Budapest)

The market was packed to the brim and it was difficult to pass, but we knew that everything would be very good when we saw a 15-minute queue to have our Langos. In addition to food, of course, there were stalls of almost everything: fabrics, bags, shoes, meat, fish, souvenirs….

The Market from the second floor.

Once full, we headed back to Buddha, to see what we had left.

The statue of Liberty

Built by the Communists in 1947 to commemorate their conquest of the Nazis, it presides over a hill south of Buda Castle and the rest of the monuments in the area, on the bridge across the market.

If there is a way to get to it, on the top of the Gellért Hill, other than walking, we don’t find it. It is a good walk up, so it is also understandable that many prefer not to climb. On the top you can see the statue with a palm leaf, and others on the base, such as that of a man who crushes a three-headed snake with a rock.

The Budapest Statue of Liberty.
Statue at its base

The view from there of the Danube and the entire city is quite good, and there are many souvenir stands. Down the hill is, of course, not fast. We lowered it to continue for Buddha.

Halászbástya, or “Fisherman’s Bastion”: a must-see place in Budapest

We took a tram to continue to our destination: the hill of the royal Buda castle, south of the castle. It is a romantic place full of emblematic buildings, such as the gothic Matthias Church, the statue of St. Stephen and the terrace of the Fisherman’s Bastion (from about 1900, and whose name comes from the fishermen who had the responsibility to defend those walls during the Middle Ages).

Matthias’ church
King Stephen and the Bastion behind the statue.

The entire architectural complex also has medieval, baroque and neoclassical houses, which makes it a pleasure to stroll through its streets and this can take a good time if one wants to enter the area well. It is an area that bustles with tourists, but without being too drowning.

There are several minibuses to get around, if one is tired, and a bus with two stops that goes down the hill to the subway next to the Danube, where we could already see our last stop.

The Hungarian Parliament

If there is an emblematic building in the city of Budapest, this is the Parliament of Hungary.

Right on the bank of the Danube on the Pest side of the city, it is the largest building in Hungary. In neo-Gothic style, it was inaugurated for the first time in 1902.

The Parliament, from the shore of Buda, before taking the Metro.

We arrive directly with the subway to the south side of the square where it is located, with line 2. The fantastic facade has the statues of leaders and leaders of Hungary and Transylvania, as well as generals and other important military in the history of the country. The set, including the square, is also flanked by several statues. We surround the parliament enjoying its architecture and the many statues around it.

In the Parliament Square.

After seeing it, it was time to say goodbye to the city and take the train bed, with the feeling that we had a good day in Budapest, and wanting to visit it again.

Don’t forget to drink lots of water when there’s a heat-wave in Budapest

So we say goodbye to our first post about non-Nordic trips. I hope you liked it as much as those in Finland. Which part did you like the most? What site, Nordic or not, would you like to be told later?



What to do in Budapest in a few days (2)

This is the continuation of the first post about what we did in Budapest on our 3-day long weekend. On this second day we were between the two parts of the city divided by the Danube. Buda and Pest, and these are our recommendations of what to do in Budapest.

Buda and Pest, the two sides of Budapest
Buda and Pest, the two sides of the city

What to do in Budapest with sun and clouds: our second day

The second day we got up to go to the tour walking through Pest, which began in the Basilica of St. Stephen.

We went with them for a while and learned several things about the city and the country, such as Hungary loves to be conquered, and the history of the Széchenyi Chain Bridge), the greatest bridge of its time: it was believed impossible to make a bridge over a I laugh as big as the Danube so that the famous architect William Tierney Clark who also made the London bridge gave away the plans … although in the end they did find a way. Proud, the Hungarians had the longest bridge in the world for … a few months.

Széchenyi Chain Bridge
Széchenyi Chain Bridge

In the center, on the street in front of the basilica and which overlooks the bridge, is the nice statue of a successful womanizer policeman of the nineteenth century (if you touch his nose, mustache and belly, you get a bit of the appeal and their luck in the sensual terrain – they say). He is affectionately called “Uncle Charlie“.

The shiny parts show he has been rubbed indeed.

The Buda Castle

From there we cross the famous bridge to climb the Buda Castle. The funicular is included in the Budapest Card, but you can walk too, as we did.

What to do in Budapest? See the Buda Castle
The Buda Castle from the Chain Brige.
The Buda Castle
The main entrance to the Buda Castle.

We toured the imposing castle at the top of the hill, until it gave us time to eat, through the inner courtyards and outside. Although we could also go for free to see the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum inside the castle with the Budapest Card (we talked about in the first post) we were hungry and we went to the Vak Vakjú to eat (see post on where to eat in Budapest) and then we had coffee in the city.

Walking through Buda
The Hungarian Parlament seen from the Castle.

The Buda Castle also has a natural underground labyrinth, which time and hot water has been praying for centuries in the stones. They are 1,200 meters of Labyrinth with paintings, statues, and cells (since it has had different uses throughout its history).

St. Stephen’s Basilica

After lunch, and as we were close, we finally entered the Basilica of St. Stephen. We enter to see art and interior space, of course, but also the relic of the Hungarian King St. Stephen I who reigned between 1000 and 1038: his perfectly preserved mummified hand. They say that when the Hungarians had to open the grave to move the body, the entire body had become bones except this hand. Since then, the hand has been shown and revered as a relic.

The relic rests in this urn.

We also climb the dome to see the city from above. After quite a few stairs we arrive at a fantastic view of the city, where we stay for a long time observing and identifying all the attractions of the city from above.

What to do in Budapest? The St. Stephen's basilica is a good idea

Boat trip on the Danube

Those days we visited the city, the Danube was so high that locals were worried: the last flood of the city was over a century ago, and they didn’t feel like repeating it. There had also been a boat accident on the Danube the day before we arrived (later we would meet the South Korean delegation visiting the place), so with those omens we decided to embark ourselves too. What the hell.

What to do in Budapest? A boat tour.
The Boat trip on the Danube.

We took the Duna-Corso boat, which had a journey of 1 hour from pier 5 (map). There are several boats with different schedules, things that include, length of the trip and prices (also with discount with the Budpest Card), but we decided on the first one that was going to leave, which was this.

The route passes next to the most important buildings of the city, from the Hungarian Parliament to beyond the statue of the Soviet victory and the other thermal baths of the south of Buda, with a beer included in the hand.

Margarita Island: the city’s central park

After the boat ride we took the transport back to the 13th district to visit the island in the middle of the bridge, Margarita Island, named in honor of Princess Santa Margarita, the daughter of King Béla IV.

The fountain of Margarita Island
Walking through Margarita Island.

We went through the very long island of two kilometers, dedicated to different recreational areas: mini-zoo, park, training place, places to dine and have a drink, a fountain with music, light and several water jet programs and much more that we didn’t see to rest before going out to dinner and having a drink.

Some Palinkás, to say goodbye to the night, and it was time to go to bed. You can read the next post of this mini-series here.



What to see in Budapest in a weekend (1)

Budapest, the city of the Danube, is a fantastic city to visit. One can spend a good week here, quietly checking out everything there is to see. If you want to know what to see in Budapest, this and the next posts are for you.

What to see in Budapest if it rains (our first day)

There was a little heat wave when we visited the city at the end of last May … except the first day, we arrived in full drizzle and cold.

And what to do then? Get into more water. We went straight to the Lukács thermal baths, for two reasons: they were closer to our AirBnB (see post: where to stay in Budapest?) than the other Spas, and also the entrance to this one was included in our Budapest Card (besides the transport to take us there, of course. See the first post of our series on Budapest about details of the Budapest Card, which you can purchase here if you want).

Thermal waters in the Lukácks Spa
The Lukácks Spa

The Lukács Spa

A nice spa in the opposite area of the Danube from the Zone XIII, where we were staying. You can reach it by the bridge that also connects with Margarita Island. This is the Spa’s address: Frankel Leó út 25-29. Map.

What to see in Budapest: Lukacs
The thermal baths.

The main attraction is the central outdoor pool with thermal water, on the lower floor. In it we did have a nice warm time while it rained. Many different jets of thermal water will relax you in here, and we did try them all. It also has enough Saunas and Turkish baths so you can find your perfect balance between heat and humidity and have a good time. Near the sauna area there are, of course, showers, and even a large container with ice.

There are also two fairly large pools of fresh water to cool off and swim (don’t be like us and forget a swimming cap if you are going to bathe there, although you can buy it at the Spa, as well as rent towels). We stayed until 3pm enjoying.

Swimming pool in the Lukacs Spa

The other spas in the city, which we did not go to, are the Gellért fürdö and the one recommended by my Hungarian friend in addition to Lukács, the Széchenyi fürdö.

Pest’s center: walking tours and St. Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica is the place to start any day worth its salt in Budapest.

We went there the first day in the afternoon to start walking around the city and we stumbled into Jordan Peterson giving a free live session – as part of the annual Brain Brain event in Budapest -. As it was about to begin we stayed to see him. He was lucky and it stopped raining just before he started. His interviewer was not as good as others he had, but the ideas are always interesting to listen to. When it was over it was a bit late and we decided to go to the top of the Basilica for another time.

Jordan Peterson in Budapest
Jordan Peterson talking in front of the St Stephen.

There are free tours (with an expected donation at the end, of course), which start in front of the Basicila every day, as well as the Pest tour that is included in the Budapest Card.

St. Stephen's Basilica.
The street that leads to St. Stephen’s Basilica.

After all this, we went to have a drink and dinner in the Pest side of the city. We headed south-east from the Basilica into the Gozsdu Courtyard (see the previous post of the series: where to eat in Budapest) to find something to drink and dine. We went into a local pub with a front of a patio with live Jazz music for some drinks, and then eat something near the AirBnB. We were very tired after so much relaxing during the day. It was a good day. And this is the next post in this mini-series.




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