Journey to Easter Island – Exploring Lima


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Setting up shop at the JW Marriott Lima, we set out to explore Lima for a couple days on a layover.  While Lima was not originally on any of my target travel cities, I found an amazing restaurant and a city that exceeded my expectations.

Trip Report

  1. Trip Motivation and Planning
  2. LAN Flight Experience
  3. Tambo Del Inka Resort
  4. Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley
  5. JW Marriott Lima
  6. Exploring Lima
  7. Exploring Easter Island and the Moai
  8. W Santiago
  9. Exploring Santiago De Chile

Lima tour

To get a lay for the city, we decided to sign up for a touristy bus tour through one of the kiosks inside the Larco Mar outdoor mall. The kiosk agent told us to return to the Marriott across the street and the bus would pick us up out front. The bus arrived a few minutes later and took us to another bus meeting point where we met our tour guide and new bus. The tour guide was a cheery local with a great accent and a deep knowledge of Lima.  We hit all the main tourist attractions and surely received 25 dollars worth of value.   Admittedly I don’t remember what everything was but it was all quite enjoyable.  Here are a few pics I snapped.

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View from Larco Mar outdoor shopping mall

IMG_0684View from Miraflores down to the beach

We made stops at San Martin Square, the Plaza Mayor and a few other major points of interest.  The areas around the tour stops were clean, friendly and safe.  I was very impressed with the colorful architecture and seeing Pre-Inca, Colonial and Modern history blend together.  Other South American cities set my expectations rather low.  This experience was very pleasant.

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Dinner at Astrid y Gaston

The tour was excellent but at the end of the day it was what it was.  The memory that truly stood out from our ‘layover’ in Lima was finding a dining experience so incredibly fantastic at such an affordable.

I had mentioned before about stumbling across this website linked through a CNN article which ranked the World’s 50 best restaurants. At the time, I was familiar with a few of the New York and Chicago restaurants that top this list though I had never dined at any of them. I fully understand how people can pay 250+ dollars per person for a meal and I am often tempted though my frugalness ultimately squashes the urge. I found a restaurant on the list in Lima. (Two actually but this was the highest rated)  The restaurant was named Astrid y Gaston and was the second highest ranked restaurant on this list in all of Central and South America.

Noticing the restaurant was less than 2 miles from the JW Marriott Lima where I was staying, I contacted the concierge and arranged a 10PM dinner (Everyone eats extremely late in South America by US standards). I never thought in my life I would be dining at a restaurant on the list of the World’s 50 best restaurants but there I was.

Let me start by saying Astrid y Gaston is an incredibly fantastic restaurant.  With a large staff on hand at all times, the service is second to none.  They have achieved that level of anticipatory service where they know what you want next before you even know it.

The menu was expansive with an emphasis on vegetable and fish dishes though we promptly set the menu aside and let our friendly waiter choose each of our meals. We knew we wanted Ceviche and Pisco Sours but left the rest up to him. I am not sure exactly what all he selected but not a single dish missed.  I am not much of a food critic but I know an amazing restaurant when I taste one.  I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking.

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Celebrity status

Throughout the meal, diners were walking back into the open kitchen with permission to take pictures with the brother chefs and kitchen staff.  I felt like I was being cooked for by a celebrity.

After polishing off 3 appetizers and 3 entrees, we were offered dessert.  We were so stuffed and it was about midnight at this time so we declined.  Little did we know, they were simply offering additional dessert choices on top of the JENGA box of treats all diners receive.  Each tray revealed a yummy treat from the pastry chef.  What a unique way to end a fantastic meal!

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The most amazing thing…

For three people drinking Pisco Sours and Red Wine (We drink fast) throughout a 2+ hour meal each having an entrée, appetizer and dessert, the total bill came to 200 USD after tax and a generous tip.  May I remind you this is currently selected as one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.  Unbelievable.

The bottom line

Lima is an exciting and vibrant city. While there are still safety concerns in certain parts of town, the tourist areas were safe, clean and friendly. Lima offers a unique intersection of world class cuisine and affordable prices.  As I alluded to above, the finest restaurants in the world tend to locate themselves in the most expensive cities in the world, though Lima is the exception.

When playing the points and miles game, one of the key concepts is to locate a unique trick or tactic that enables you access to an experience you normally couldn’t afford or find.  I believe this is one of those instances.  This is a World’s Top 50 restaurant at prices you may find when your group has one too many El Presidente Margaritas at Chili’s.  The next time you find yourself laying over in Lima, grab a cab to Astrid y Gaston and eat your heart out (affordably).  Bon Appetit.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This post was accurate at the time of posting, offer may be unavailable on this site at a later time. For details on current offers visit the card issuer’s site.

About alex

Alex loves to travel and does so a lot. Logging 100,000 flight miles each year over the past 4 years, Alex uses points and miles to power his passion. Alex is continuously striving to experience the far reaches of the globe. In his day job, Alex is a Management Consultant frequently on the road advising Technology organizations. I love thinking about, reading about, and talking about all things travel. Feel free to reach me at pmmalex@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. Peru is one of the most amazing places to eat in South America. I spent a week in Lima early this year and have many friends that are locals. Here is full list of amazing places to eat in Lima recommended by locals (no specific order):

    Astrid & Gaston
    Rafael
    La Mar Cebicheria
    Malabar
    Huaca Pucclana
    Chala Costa Fusion
    La Gloria
    Panchita
    Osaka
    Central
    Pescados Capitales
    Fiesta Chiclayo Gourmet
    Las Brujas de Cachiche
    El Mercado
    Cala
    Amoramar

  2. About the tour, did you go inside the buildings? Are the tourist points close to each other? Would you recommend this tour?

  3. @JoC – Yes, at each of the squares and a few of the buildings we got off and walked through the interiors. The tour was about 3-4 hours long and I would recommend dedicating this half day to see all the main tourist attractions.

  4. I would like to add info to Santastico’s list:
    Just had dinner at Pescados Capitalle, which all the hotel and taxi driver’s raved about. I think it is more a place where the high end locals go. The food was good, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t great. I do have to plug this place though: El Kapallaq and Chef Cordero
    See this video on you tube about the opening of his new place in San Isidro. His food was amazing:

    (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqzmSqRxOLk)

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