I'll eventually do an elaborate post about Peruvian food, covering all of its regional variety. But right now, all I want to do is talk about one of the best dining experiences I've had. Anywhere. Ever.
Pescados Capitales is, rightfully, one of the most famous and best rated restaurants in Lima. It is both a restaurant and a cultural icon; I've even seen ethnographic studies on it in bookstores in Lima. The intended meaning of this icon is open to debate, but it's personal meaning for me was "STUFF YOUR FACE WITH EVERYTHING DELICIOUS RIGHT NOW."
Theme: The name Pescado Capitales is actually a pun. In Spanish, "pescados" means fish, while "pecados" means sins. So instead of being "Capital Sins" (7 Deadly Sins), the name is "Capital Fish" (7 deadly fish). The entire menu revolves around this pun; it even starts with a quote by James Joyce, "Dios ha hecho los alimentos y el diablo, la sal y las salsas" (roughly: God has made foods and the devil, the salt and sauces). Yea, your menu just went there.
Each item has a playful name and description tying it to one of the sins (and occasionally a virtue). You start with "minor sins", work your way up to one of the 7 deadly sins, and then you hit....The Unforgivables (dessert).
Fun examples: An appetizer of crab comes with the description: "Strong, muscular crab claws were not hardened enough to break free from the networks". (Don't you feel like a jerk now?)
Or: "Trout rolls -Tired of swimming upstream, trout succumbed to temptation."
Or my personal favorite: "INTOLERANCE: Tuna Inquisitor. This tuna does not support differences. Aguaymanto sauce and stuffed green tamalito wontons are new and will wisely fight him for space."
Atmosphere: The restaurant is very large, airy and open to the outside. Reminds me of Bloody Mary's on Bora Bora, but with a little less beach-hut. The whole place is actually unassuming, and in some odd warehouse district. It is far away from the busy and flashy parts of Miraflores, allowing for a quiet, relaxing meal.
Staff: It has an incredibly attentive staff, and they somehow manage to be everywhere at once and yet not intrusive. They have menus in Spanish and English, and will take care of any questions you have.
Price: When I went, we had 2 cocktails, 1 appetizer, 2 entrees and 2 desserts. Total price was about 200 soles - $70. So, we spent about $35 each. For a gourmet multi-course dinner FROM THE GODS. I don't think I've ever spent money more wisely.
Getting there: It is a long way from Larcomar and most of the hotels tourists stay at. It IS walkable - we actually walked backed to Larco after our meal and it took about an hour. However, you probably want to take a taxi.
My Soufflé de chocolate, which was like the best brownie in the world combined with the best chocolate cake and then covered with ice cream.
I believe Emily had the Creme brule de lúcuma. Whatever it was, it was excellent.
I believe I had "Impatience" here, which was the best mahi mahi steak I have ever had. It was grilled to absolute perfection, with a very salty rub on it. The only drawback was the chickpeas - they were good but just didn't add much to the dish, in my opinion.
Emily got something from the Virtues menu, a ceviche. I think it was Generosity or Diligence.
NOT PICTURED: The Shrimp Wonton appetizer we had, which was actually the highlight of the entire meal. It had an Asian-inspired honey sauce that was simply amazing. The shrimp were huge and so tender that they just kind of melted into puddles of magic on your tongue. If you go for no other reason, go for those shrimp wontons.