Street food in Cusco! Should you try it? People back home for sure told you not to and so do some travel guides…. But living in Cusco as a Spanish student, we think you should! It´s a cheap and quick way to sample local fare and, it’s all great!
A lot of people have reservations about eating food prepared and sold by a street vendor, but believe me, its normal to do here in Peru and just fine in most cases! Trust your instincts…if it looks bad or you don´t feel right about it, don´t eat it and move along! Also…trust the crowds! A good rule of thumb that I use when traveling…if there is a long line of locals waiting to eat it, it´s probably downright delicious and perfectly safe! If the place is deserted…there´s a good reason for that too…and I don´t want to find out what it is!
Below is a list of some local Cusco favorites…this is not at all a complete list of available options around town, so explore on your own too and let us know! ! Buen provecho!
Top 7 Peruvian street food in Cusco
Anticucho — ¨Meat on a Stick¨ You can find this delicious snack being barbecued on many street corners in Cusco in the evenings. You can choose from chicken, beef, or if you are really adventurous, cow heart, impaled onto what can only be called a deadly weapon (an incredibly sharp skewer made from bamboo) with an extremely dry potato stuck on the end (for safety we presume as the papa is in no way the highlight of the experience.) When trying this perfectly-seasoned delicacy, be sure to sample some of the yummy green chimichurri sauce available at every stand!
Salchipapa — Coming from North America, this immediately struck me as a dish that nobody over the age of 10 would likely order…and after seeing it on numerous Kid´s Menus, I realize that´s not too far from the truth! But, I´ve heard from lots of adults in a whispered tone that they may be one of their guilty pleasures as well. This dish consists of nothing more than French fries (papas fritas) and fried hotdogs, smothered in a variety of sauces (usually ketchup, mustard, mayo, and a Peruvian spicy sauce). Go on, give it a try…you can easily walk it off within 2 hours, climbing the steep streets of Cusco.
Roast Pork Sandwiches – Delicious and available almost everywhere! They consist of a crusty bun stuffed with carved pork and topped with a salsa criolla (onions, tomatoes, and some green hierbas). Add ketchup, mustard, and voila! A meal at your fingertips (literally) within seconds.
Avocado and cheese sandwiches — Typically you can find these simple yet muy rico sandwiches during your morning commute! It´s as simple as it sounds…bread, local salty cheese, creamy Peruvian avocado, and that´s it! At about a sol each (not even half a dollar!) grab a few, you´ll need the energy to tackle the hills and stairs of Cusco, or, to support 4 hours of Spanish classes daily. Usually accompanied by the next delicious thing on our list…
Quinoa/Manzana bebida – This thick, hot beverage is almost a meal in itself. Made of quinoa, the popular and protein-rich Andean grain-like seed and jugo de manzana (apple juice), it will warm you from the inside on those cool Cusco mornings like a pair of liquid long underwear.
Papa rellena — With over 3000 varieties of potatoes grown in Peru, it is no surprise that there are many popular dishes made from one of these totally terrific tubers. Papas rellenas, or stuffed potatoes, are a Peruvian staple, made of a potato dough stuffed with beef, onions, olives, eggs, spices, and more, then fried to perfection and served!
Choclo con Queso — a Cusqueño classic…nothing more than a huge piece of boiled local corn accompanied by hunk of local cheese…simple, but filling and surprisingly tasty despite its bland appearance!