Traveling to Cusco when my Spanish is mediocre at best presented a bit of a challenge. I prepared a card explaining my celiac disease in Spanish that I brought to every restaurant, AND I did a lot of research in advance. Without a doubt, the restaurant with the best celiac reviews was PER.UK, located just two minutes from the Plaza de Armas.
Now, why did this restaurant have such good reviews? The owner has celiac disease, so for a country with little awareness of the disease that’s a good start. (Although, I must admit I found most Peruvians to be quite accommodating if you did explain your needs at a restaurant.) Plus, the majority of the menu is gluten free, which just decreases ever so slightly the risk of cross contact in the kitchen. And, lastly, a month before I sent someone had Nima tested their meal and found no gluten in it.
As we arrived, my sister and mom, who had followed me here in blind faith, seemed unsurprised that the restaurant had “UK” in the title. Of course, when traveling it’s ideal to try local cuisine, but as a celiac heading out hiking in a couple of days while simultaneously altitude adjusting to eleven thousand feet from sea level, safe food was the main priority. Fortunately, upon arrival, the menu also featured Peruvian cuisine, and this was the first restaurant where I tried alpaca.
I handed over my allergy card featuring my dietary requirements, both celiac disease and food allergies, and upon ordering was reassured that my food would be safe to eat. The restaurant labels gluten free items on their menu, which was quite helpful and has a wide array of options.
Both my mom and I ordered gluten free meals, while my sister had the Lomo Saltado which contains soy sauce and thus is not gluten free. All the meals were beautifully prepared.
I had the Molle Alpaca. It’s a grilled alpaca steak with a subtle molle and green chili sauce served with chard and a sweet potato purée. This was my first time trying alpaca. It was flavorful and a little bit tougher than some meats that I’m used to back home. As a sweet potato lover, the flavor combination including the sauce were right on point.
My mom had the Mushroom and Vegetable Risotto, which is both gluten free and vegetarian. This dish is a creamy risotto of red pepper, mushroom, carrots, peas, and snow peas in white wine and Parmesan. Risotto seems to be another common dish in Peru, second to potato and corn. She enjoyed her dish as well, and this turned out to be a successful start to our trip in Peru.
For dessert, we tried both the pineapple carpaccio and the gluten free and vegan chocolate mousse. The pineapple carpaccio is finely sliced pineapples flambéed with piece and caramelized with brown sugar. It’s served with vanilla ice cream and pecan praline. Since fruits are one of the highlights of the food here in Peru, this was probably my favorite dessert.
The chocolate mousse was also tasty and it’s nice that they have a vegan option for patrons. It’s texture resembles more of a pudding than a mousse, but I liked it for its deep chocolate flavor.
In conclusion, I second all the reviews that I read. For a celiac traveling in Peru, this spot is a must. They understand the needs of gluten free diners, provide safe food, and all the dishes are well composed. To learn more, you can check out their Facebook page or stop by. Their address is Calle Plateros 344, Cusco, Peru.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you about at least one site in Peru outside of the main square. If you walk just about ten minutes uphill, you’ll arrive at San Cristóbal church. Many think the best part is the view on the patio outside, but if you buy a ticket to go in, which is less than 2 USD for the student rate, you can also climb up the bell tower to a slightly more impressive view.
That’s all for now! But, this was just the beginning of my journey to Peru. Be on the lookout for more new posts soon!
As always, Happy Wanderlust Wednesday!