Lima – Day 1/Night 2 – Exploring My New Temporary ‘hood

I woke up to the sounds of loud construction going on seemingly right outside of my window but at least they had started at the reasonable hour of 9AM.  I caught up with a bit of work, wearing headphones to drown out the noise, and at around noon, headed out to satisfy my ceviche craving.  One of the places I had asked people where they go on their day off turned out to be a cevicheria pretty close to my apartment.

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The Google Maps path showed it was a bit under a mile away, which would be easy enough to walk, and seemed to be pretty easy to navigate.  This was true, until I made the turn to another street, where I literally had to take the beaten path.

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There didn’t seem to be another option so I did my best navigating the various holes and broken glass that was seemingly everywhere, anxiously consulting the app to find out how much longer of this I had to endure.  Eventually, after stepping around a particularly muddy section, I arrived at my destination – La Onceava.

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Given what I had just experienced, I was very surprised to find a large, pretty modern looking restaurant in front of me.  The expansive courtyard was filled with lunch goers and was blissfully free of English or other languages.  TripAdvisor wasn’t going to send too many tourists this out of the way!

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Immediately after being seated, I was greeted with the familiar site of a pisco sour, and while I didn’t really feel like a full one, this mini version was great.  Also great was this magnificent basket of chips.

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The menu, not surprisingly, was filled with options for ceviche and other traditional Peruvian seafood dishes.  One version caught my attention, Piscomarisco, a mixed seafood ceviche with a pisco leche de tigre sauce.  This, as my waiter explained, is the traditional preparation of ceviche up north.

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A short while longer, this plate of seafood beauty arrived.  I had never seen the Peruvian corn on the cob like that but the rest was very familiar – a lovely mix of lobster, shrimp, conch, squid and octopus along with sweet potatoes and red onions.  The seafood was very, very fresh, and I could in fact taste a bit of the pisco in the sauce.  Amazing.

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I wasn’t planning on getting a dessert but when I saw they had one of my favorites, tres leches, for about $4 USD, I had to try it.  As depicted above, this was way more than I expected and the cake was fantastic.  I ate pretty much all of it, paid the check and left the courtyard only to be basically surrounded by cabbies all vying for my business.  When I told them I was going to walk, a few in chorus said “no, very dangerous, take our cabs.”  Had this been at night, I probably would have agreed but since I already knew the way, I politely declined.

I picked a slightly different route home to avoid the construction mess and headed back to the apartment.  A few hours later, it was time to go check out the section of Barranco I had seen previously, which apparently was very close.  Walking down the other side of the street, I turned on to Avenida San Martin, which ran along the old part of the barrio.

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I was immediately struck how different the surroundings were, with beautiful parks and mansions with large gates and security cameras everywhere.  I passed by the large Barranco Park and headed up a side street to a small restaurant that had been getting a lot of buzz.

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Sibaris, according to the menu, focused on whatever is available that day at the nearby Suquillo Market and items changed accordingly.  From a quick read, it seemed to be leaning heavily on the fusion cuisine that has become a staple of Lima.

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The wine selection was underwhelming but the beer choices were plentiful.  I ended up with another style from Nuevo Mundo, this time a porter.  It was a very nice beer made even better by the ice cold glass it was served in, which was needed as the restaurant was a bit stuffy.

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Instead of a starter and main, or just a starter, I decided the two best things were both starters so chose those.  First up was a tiradito of Amazon river trout.  I was thrilled to find trout on the menu as it’s rare in South America and this turned out to be a fantastic starter.  The trout was perfectly sliced and the slightly spicy sauce enhanced the flavor greatly.  I could see why people were talking about Sibaris after this.

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For my other starter, I selected the “buns” of shrimp and braised pork belly with sweet potato spread.  Now THIS was Peruvian fusion at its best, with the crunchy tempura shrimp balancing out the rich pork belly.  The Asian style bun with the spread was the perfect vehicle for these bite-sized wonders.  Another great dish.

After paying the bill, I retraced my steps back to the plaza and crossed over the other side to the Bridge of Sighs, one of the more notable landmarks in Lima.

This was the part of Barranco I had explored previously so I took a few snapshots, walked around a bit and headed over to Santos, which I had enjoyed during my first visit.  Unfortunately, it was pretty empty as it was only 11PM so I took off but not before getting a photo of this cool room.

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I walked along the grounds just outside of the area, noticing an interesting art installation that studded the banks of the now dry river.

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My final stop of the evening was going to be at what is considered to be one of the best bars in the world.  While I was looking for something small and intimate, it turned out to be nothing of the sort.

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Ayahuasca Bar and Restaurant was housed in a massive mansion from the late 1800 that had been lovingly restored to its original splendor.  I was a bit overwhelmed by the sheer size and took awhile to walk around to get my bearings.

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After checking out each room along with the truly amazing bridge connecting the two parts of the mansion, I ended up in one of the busier rooms, which had Ron Zacapa branding all over it.  Since that had become a favorite of mine, it seemed like the logical pitstop.

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The bartender in this room looked like something out of central casting for a fierce Inca warrior but turned out to be a gentle giant, even at one point proudly pulling out a large coffee table book about the venue after I had asked about its history.  Not every day I go to a bar with its own coffee table book.

Wanting something a bit different but with the Zacapa 23 that I had grown found of, the bartender suggested a mojito with that instead of the usual white rum.  It was an excellent call, and I enjoyed the next 30 minutes or so continuing to explore the mansion

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At about midnight, more people started to arrive, and I could tell it was about to switch into party time.  Unfortunately, my long day combined with the fact it was 2 hours later on my body clock made it time for me to leave this weird, wonderful place.  I made the quick walk back home and went to sleep.  Tomorrow would be my final stand and my eagerly awaited return to El Mercado for one last bite.

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