central restaurant lima peru
*This post was originally published by Julia Ardila for kriteria.

Much has been said of Peruvian cuisine:

That thanks to pioneers like Gaston Acurio, it has made its mark on the world stage in terms of fine dining, that it puts the spotlight on the Andean region’s unrivalled biodiversity, or even that thousands of potato varieties can be found in Peru (and naturally, in its flavorful cuisine).

For Chef Virgilio Martinez and his team of chefs and researchers, gastronomy is just another way of understanding the vertical geography of his country.

In this way, the tasting menu at Central — his flagship restaurant based in Lima, ranked among the top five restaurants in the world — offers a culinary journey featuring flora and fauna from each elevation’s ecosystem.

Ingredients range from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes, to the country’s high and low jungles, and even levels of extreme altitude. The Central kitchen thereby serves as a laboratory for experimentation as well as a storeroom for products that tell the stories of dozens of small farmers from all over Peru.

Keep reading for a visual tour through the Mater Elevations Tasting Menu, a comprehensive journey through 17 altitudes of Peruvian biodiversity, and perhaps one of the greatest contemporary expressions of Peru’s cultural heritage.

Note: MASL stands for “Meters Above Sea Level”

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Looking for innovative Lima restaurants? Central Restaurante in the city's Miraflores District offers a delicious and innovative Peruvian food journey through Peru's elevations. Which of these 17 Peruvian dishes would you want to try first? #peru #lima #bestrestaurants

1. Rock Molluscs (- 10 MASL)

Sea snail, mussel, sargassum, limpet

The shells pictured are not edible, but came accompanied by an algae crisp to be dipped in a mussel tartar with mollusc and sea snails.

Chef Virgilio Martinez Central Restaurant
Rock Molluscs via Julia Ardila

2. Desert Plants (180 MASL)

Huarango, cactus, sweet potato leaf, loche

This dish consisted of three separate bites. We especially enjoyed the sweet potato leaf and the traditional Peruvian juice called leche de tigre. The drink featured an unusual herb called “verdolaga” that was tangy, salty and acidic all at once.

central restaurant peru
Desert plants via Julia Ardila

3. Mil Moray (3500 MASL)

Potato, tree tomato, alpaca, muña mint

The server told us to dip the potatoes — which had been cooked on a bed of mineral salt rocks from the region of Maras — in a minty sauce covered in dehydrated alpaca heart shavings. At this point things were just starting to get interesting!

What's the most innovative #tasting menu you've ever had? Here's our pick! #Lima Share on X
central restaurant in peru
Mil Moray via César del Rio

4. Thick Stems (3400 MASL)

Olluco, chincho, onion, field mustard

A tasty, potato-based duo consisting of a straw-like roll-up filled with a sweet mousse. This was accompanied by a tasty potato-based sauce. The “olluco” is a type of Andean potato that comes in yellow, orange, pink and red, and was brought with the dish to showcase its primary ingredient.

central restaurant in lima peru
Thick stems via Julia Ardila

5. Waters of Nanay (450 MASL)

Piranhas, cocona, achiote, huampo bark 

Yes, those are piranhas! No, we didn’t actually eat the heads, but atop were served two strips of piranha skin. They were fished out of the river Nanay, and fried in oil flavored with achiote seeds. On top, there were dollops of citric cocona fruit sauce.

central restaurant lima peru
Waters of Nanay via Julia Ardila

6. Forest Cotton (300 MASL)

River shrimp, llanten, huito, pacae

These are lentil fritters topped with shrimp. Not pictured, a cottony-textured pacae fish and a gingery broth for an extra kick.

central restaurant lima peru
Forest Cotton via Julia Ardila

7. High Jungle (1900 MASL)

Macambo, cassava, copoazu, air potato 

The smoky coca bread was certainly a highlight of the meal, accompanied by an air potato crisp and butter-like condiments.

How to eat your way through #Peru's elevations...literally! #lima Share on X
central restaurant lima peru
High Jungle via César del Rio

8. Marine Soil (0 MASL)

Sea urchin, pepino melon, razor clam, seaweed

A fresh dish to start the next round of dishes and wash out the last’s smoky flavor. The cucumber was delicious and almost sweet, while the signature taste of sea urchin pervaded the whole dish’s flavor.

central restaurant in lima peru
Marine Soil via César del Rio

9. Tree Points (1200 MASL)

Avocado, kiwicha, arracacha, lake algae

This dish presents a bite of tiny kiwicha grains, from the amaranth family, served with avocado, lake algae and arracacha, a tuber native to the Andes.

central restaurant lima peru
Tree Points via Julia Ardila

10. Land Of Corn (2010 MASL)

Kculli, purple, chulpi, piscorunto 

A potpourri of four different types of corn, including “kculli” which is used to make the typical Peruvian “chicha morada” drink. By the way, chica morada is a delicious purplish-black beverage that features not just kculli, but also pineapple rinds, cinnamon, cloves and sometimes other ingredients like strawberry and lime. Yum!

central restaurant lima peru
Land of Corn via Julia Ardila

11. Amazonian Plain (600 MASL)

Churo, cecina, black chili pepper, bellaco 

A foamy, scrumptious and savory part of the meal that reminded us almost of a warm soup, with a rather different consistency.

central restaurant lima peru
Amazonian Plain via Julia Ardila

12. Coastal Harvest (20 MASL)

Scallops, yellow chili pepper, milk, tumbo 

An unexpectedly satisfying milk crisp served with scallops, traditional Peruvian yellow chili pepper sauce, and the sauce of “tumbo,” a fruit closely related to passion fruit.

Which of these imaginative dishes would you want to eat first? #12 is our pick! Share on X
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Coastal Harvest via Julia Ardila

13. Sea Coral (10 MASL)

Octopus, crab, squid, sea lettuce 

The sea coral dish definitely reminded us of the ocean, with octopus and crab topped with squid ink crisps and algae foam.

central restaurant lima peru
Sea coral via Julia Ardila

14. High Andes Mountains (4100 MASL)

Pork, black mashwa, macre, kañiwa

Baked pancetta marinated in a miso-like emulsion of black tubers, plated like a flower-covered forest bed. Need we say more?

central restaurant central restaurant
High Andes Mountains via Julia Ardila

15. Amazonian White (400 MASL)

Yacon, coconut, wrinkled lemon

The first dessert features the crispy root vegetable yacon cofermented with brown butter sauce, served with coconut and lemon.

central restaurant lima peru
Amazonian White via Julia Ardila

16. Lower Andes (2750 MASL)

Cacao, chaco clay, cushuro, muña

This dessert is all about chocolate! It may not look like it, but those gelatinous pieces are actually the viscous body that cover cacao beans.

central restaurant lima peru
Lower Andes via Julia Ardila

17. Medicinals & Plant Dyes (3050 MASL)

Congona, matico, malva, pilipili

A refreshing, herbal beverage eased us into the end of an unforgettable meal.

central restaurant lima peru
Medicinals & Plant Dyes via Julia Ardila

Address: Santa Isabel 376. Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Phone Number: (+51 1) 2416721 / 2428575 / 2428515
. Follow them on Instagram.

Enjoyed this post? Pin it for later!

One reason to take a trip to Peru? Central Restaurante in Lima's Miraflores District. Here, you'll take an imaginative Peruvian food journey through the country's elevations. Bonus: The blog post photos of the tasting menu's Peruvian dishes will make your mouth water! #southamerica #perutravel #limatravel

About Julia Ardila

Trained as a journalist, Julia Ardila prefers the more sensorial side of journalism, where soaking up experiences, design and culture are what matters most. After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Boston University and later completing a Masters degree in Food Design in Milan, Italy, Julia worked on the editorial/ photo team at Design Diffusion News in Milan, while soaking up the city’s matchless design culture. After two years in the northern Italian city, she moved back to her family’s home country of Colombia, and realizing the great potential of the local design industry, made it a priority to build a space to showcase the best of local design. The result is kriteria, a portal to Latin American design, featuring interior design, architecture, fashion and food design. Soak up the culture!

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