As we've established there is so much good food in Peru, including a number of Michelin-starred, world class restaurants. But the best thing is, you don’t have to spend a lot to get in on the action. Enter the picantería experience; an authentic Peruvian lunch restaurant serving traditional food at local prices.
Stepping off an unassuming, quiet street a 20-minute walk from the city centre, La Nueva Palomino oozed warmth and heart right from our friendly welcome to the moment we rolled out the door.
Having been seated inside the spacious restaurant by one of the traditionally dressed wait staff in red and white I legitimately lost my way back from the bathroom to our table because that’s how big this place is. But for once I was glad for my terrible sense of direction as I ended up wandering through the outside dining alcoves and beautifully styled displays of fresh and dried vegetables (as seen below and in the cover photo), even managing to stumble across a guineapig den!
From the terribly translated passage on the inside of the menu I understood the restaurant to be owned by the family of Juana Palomino de Alpaca and her three daughters ‘that follow their mother’s legacy with so love and dedication and whom lived to love, share and cook’. The blurb tells that within the picanterías of these ‘courageous women’ were cooked ‘revolutions, emotions, loves and lovelessness, where it was sung to the life and it was cried for the death.’ My translation: this restaurant has been a labour of love for a close family of women whose blood, sweat and tears have made La Nueva Palomino the success it is today.
Despite the temptations of the incredible looking menu del día, our group was all hanging out to try the rocoto relleno, a typical Arequipeñean dish that came highly recommended by our Peruvian chef friend. Accompanied with cancha to snack on, a jug of chicha for the table and a fig syrup drizzled picarone to finish, our meal couldn’t have been more Peruvian. The portions were huge but even though half as much potato would have sufficed, it was a beautiful meal and delivered by very patient wait staff who did a great job answering many menu-related questions in our terrible Spanish (no English here! Although the menu is in both languages).
Would definitely return to try the shrimp soup (moqueguano de camarones) which is meant to be amazing!