Miami has one of the largest concentrations of Peruvian expats in the United States, and as a result there are a lot of Peruvian restaurants here to choose from. Kendall has traditionally been the epicenter of Miami’s Peruvian community, even gaining the nickname of “Kendall Suyo,” a reference to being the fifth suyo, or state, of the Inca Empire. In fact, that’s where my family settled after we left Peru, and we never felt far from home with the selection of cevicherias, pollo a la brasa, chifas, and bakeries in the area.
Since then, Peruvian food has reached almost every corner of Miami, including non-Peruvian restaurants that feature ceviches on their menus and Peruvian chile peppers like ají amarillo in many dishes. The popularity of Peruvian food in Miami has even caught the attention of well-known chefs in Lima, who have started opening outposts of their restaurants here.
Miami now has one of the most diverse Peruvian dining scenes in the country, with restaurants representing everything from traditional Creole cooking to many immigrant-influenced dishes. Below you’ll find our favorite Peruvian restaurants and bakeries across the city that represent the diversity of Peru itself.
Ranchito Mi Peru 2 is a true huarique in Miami - a homestyle restaurant serving hearty dishes. These are typically the most affordable places to eat in Lima, but they’re still popular with just about everyone. Weekends are the best time to come here for beloved but hard-to-find traditional dishes. Saturday is when they serve the excellent Afro-Peruvian dish called chanfainita, a stew of chopped cow lung with diced potatoes in a spicy ají panca sauce. The bofe (lungs) here are tender and slightly chewy, offering a nice contrast to the powdery potatoes. Sunday specials include another rarely found classic: pachamanca a la olla, an Andean dish of various meats marinated in native herbs, potatoes, corn, and slightly sweet humitas steamed together in a pot.
Peru has one of the largest Chinese immigrant populations in Latin America, and Lima has one of the region’s largest Chinatowns. It’s no wonder, then, that Chinese food has influenced Peruvian cooking in a pretty major way. Dishes like lomo and chaufa (fried rice) have Chinese roots and are mainstays at many Peruvian restaurants. However, there’s a whole category of Peruvian-Chinese food called chifa, and Chifa Du Kang is the place in Miami to sample this unique hybrid style of cooking. The chi jau kai, a dish of boneless fried chicken drenched in a black bean and five-spice gravy, is the first thing to order at this casual Bird Road spot. The chicken is crisp on the outside and super juicy on the inside, while the sauce is complex from the fermented black beans and warm spices. To counter the saltiness, pair this dish with kam lu wantan - crunchy fried wontons topped with a combination of proteins, veggies, and boiled quail’s eggs in a sweet and sour tamarind sauce.
When the sun sets, Lima’s streets start to fill with the spicy aroma of grilled beef heart skewers called anticuchos. This Afro-Peruvian specialty is perhaps the definitive late-night snack of Lima, and while there are many restaurants that feature anticuchos on their menu, few of them have gone to the effort of bringing over a traditional anticucho grill from Lima like this place has. It’s located in the back of a convenience store in North Miami Beach’s Little Lima, and the anticuchos here remind me of what I’d get after a night of drinking in Barranco, Lima’s nightlife district. The heart is marinated in a heady mix of cumin, ají panca chiles, and vinegar before getting seared on a flat-top grill with narrow slits to allow the juices to drip into the fire, causing bursts of flames to char the meat just right. With a side of potatoes, Peruvian giant corn, and rocoto sauce for dipping, Anticucho & Dulcinea tastes about as close as you can get to a night out in Lima without leaving Miami. The only differences are that this place is only open during daylight hours, and there are a few tables and chairs to eat at inside instead of a Lima street corner.
In true Peruvian style, Itamae’s ceviches feature daily catches so that you truly get the freshest seafood possible. The ceviches at this Design District Nikkei spot lean on the more minimalist side too, focusing on the fresh-caught fish without all the extra flourishes that might distract from its flavor and texture. The cebiche tradicional is one of the best ceviches in Miami and is a paired-down version of the traditional style, aka no cilantro. However, the simplified preparation really does highlight the superb quality of the fish. They also serve the Peruvian summertime staple cremolada, a passion fruit slushy (very traditional) with a hit of lemon verbena and yuzu (very Nikkei) that’s hard to find in Miami.
This is perhaps the best Peruvian restaurant in Miami right now. La Mar is the local branch of the famed Lima-based cevicheria of the same name, run by Gaston Acurio, the chef often credited with elevating Peruvian cuisine to where it is today. However, it’s really the exceptional food that makes this spot so great. Unlike other La Mar locations, the dishes here often feature local seafood, and their lomo saltado is probably the best in Miami, featuring tender cubes of filet fired in a blazingly hot wok. It’s also one of the few places making traditional Peruvian ceviche that tastes close to what you’ll find in Lima - the freshest quality fish, perfectly trimmed, swimming in a leche de tigre that’s both tart and savory without going overboard on either. If you’ve never had Peruvian food before, this is where you should start. Just keep in mind that while this lavish Brickell Key spot is supposed to evoke the spirit of a casual cevichería in Peru, it’s definitely more of a special occasion restaurant.
With La Mar’s success came more famous Lima-based restaurants, including Osaka. This restaurant specializes in Nikkei food, which is a sort of Peruvian-Japanese hybrid. Peru is actually home to a significant Japanese population, who transformed how Peruvians eat seafood, even influencing how ceviche is prepared. The menu at Osaka features top-quality fish, with raw ingredients flown in from as far away as Japan. Make sure to try one of the tiraditos - the Perú tiradito is excellent and features paper-thin slices of white fish with an avocado mousse, creamy rocoto sauce, and crunchy bits of sweet potato. The Peruvian-inspired sushi is more of a recent innovation, but the combination of Japanese technique and Peruvian flavors really works. The Inca nigiri, for instance, includes black quinoa, cured tuna, ají amarillo, and a chalaquita sauce. The black quinoa is a nod to native Peruvian cooking and provides a bit of nuttiness to the nigiri, while the cured tuna adds a brininess that stands up to the fruity/spicy ají amarillo and tangy chalaquita.
While the menu at this Kendall spot is extensive, it’s hard to get past the list of ceviches, which are not only perfectly prepared but also include some really fun creations that showcase regional Peruvian flavors. El Charapa, for example, is a nod to the Peruvian Amazon and is seasoned with sawtooth coriander, a favorite herb from the area. In the middle of the bowl is a traditional Amazonian plantain and pork rind ball called a tacacho (kind of like mofongo), which you can break apart and use to soak up the leche de tigre from the ceviche. There are also other imaginative options like a triple-layered parfait ceviche and even deep-fried ceviche croquettes. This is also one of the best places for affordable ceviche, all of which come in under $20.
Peruvian rotisserie chicken has become as popular in Miami as cafecitos in recent years, and there are almost too many pollo a la brasa places to choose from. However, my family and I have been going to El Tambo since I was a kid and I’ll happily drive over an hour to West Kendall to get their juicy chicken marinated in cumin, garlic, soy sauce, and Peruvian ají chiles. Go the traditional route and get a side salad and a plate of crispy french fries with your chicken. Each order comes with a cup of huancaína sauce for dipping, as well as a tangy, vinegar-based spicy huacatay sauce. The fragrant Peruvian herb, also known as “black mint” in English, offers a nice counterbalance to the fiery ají chiles.
Peruvian sandwiches are a thing of beauty. They may look simple, but the combination of country ham or crispy pork belly on a warm roll with some sarsa criolla just can’t be beat. Mr. & Mrs. Bun in West Kendall continues the tradition of the “sánguche” while adding their own creative touches and a little Miami flair. The husband and wife team scraps the traditional pan francés rolls in favor of their own homemade creation. Stick to the classics here, like their butifarra made with homemade Peruvian-style country ham that’s been marinated for 48 hours. The comforting triple sandwich - a triple-decker of egg, tomato, and avocado on homemade pan de molde bread - is also excellent and brings me back to nibbling sanguchitos on a park bench in Miraflores. This place makes the best Peruvian pan de molde bread in Miami, and the homemade mayo that keeps the triple together really distinguishes it from anywhere else in town.
There are two locations of this more updated take on a cevicheria, and both are equally good. You’ll find a lot of spruced-up Limeño classics at Divino Ceviche (not to be confused with Ceviches by Divino in Miami Beach) similar to the food you see in Lima’s more upscale, contemporary restaurants. The menu steers clear of being too experimental, though, and many Peruvian expats will recognize the dishes here, including the mini tacu tacus. These little squares of crispy rice and canary bean cakes get topped with a tiny steak, a sunny side up quail’s egg, and just a spoonful of sarsa criolla. It’s like an adorable scaled-down version of a traditional tacu tacu a lo pobre, but what makes this place unique are the hard-to-find Amazonian specialties. Amazonian-style chaufa is always on the menu, featuring fried rice studded with a type of smoked pork called cecina and diced sweet plantains. They also feature other Amazonian dishes, like tacachos, as daily specials from time to time.
While many of Miami’s Peruvian restaurants have adopted the more recent style of Peruvian dining, Salmon & Salmon continues to follow the older Limeño spots that modeled themselves on classic European-style restaurants while serving typical Creole dishes. A meal here starts with warm rolls and a small bowl of nutty homemade ají sauce. The causa appetizer follows the traditional recipe but is elegantly plated - the potato and seafood cake is molded in a flower shape and served on a bed of lettuce with squiggles of sweet and creamy salsa golf - and steak dishes are accompanied by carved potato flowers. However, the chicharrón de pescado appetizer might be the best thing here: a mountain of breaded and fried fish chunks crowned with a tangle of sarsa criolla. As an entrée, you should ask for the off-menu combo of lomo saltado on top of a massive plate of tacu tacu.
We Peruvians love our bread and are used to having it every day for breakfast, snacks, and accompanying lunch and dinner. While there aren’t many Peruvian bakeries in South Florida, and the few that exist mainly specialize in pastries, Kendall’s L’Arte Bianco Bakery fills the void. This is perhaps the only place in all of South Florida where you can regularly buy pan francés rolls, the daily bread of Lima that is said to be the model for a perfectly shaped butt: round with a deep crease down the middle. I typically get at least a dozen to keep in my freezer, and after a few minutes in the toaster oven, you’ll get the crispy crust and soft inside that make this bread a beloved mainstay on Limeños’ tables. The chancay bread here is also excellent - soft and sweet, these eggy rolls feature just a hint of aniseed and make really great hamburger buns.
This pastry shop is located in Key Biscayne and mirrors the fancy bakeshops you find in affluent Lima neighborhoods like Miraflores and San Isidro. This pastelería specializes in its namesake, the pionono - a cake similar to a jelly roll but filled with manjar blanco (what we call dulce de leche in Peru). They also have other Peruvian-style cakes, which are moist, buttery, and stuffed with rich manjar blanco, including a turrón cake made with walnuts. If you’re not down to polish off a whole pionono, this place also has mini piononito slices. Despite all the unique creations here, leaving with a box of alfajores is really the way to go. These manjar blanco sandwich cookies are crunchier and richer than the more popular Argentine varieties, which tend to be cakier. After the first crunch, the cookies simply melt away, combining with the caramelized milk filling and embracing your mouth like a warm hug.
Sabor A Peru
Sabor a Peru in Edgewood provides a taste of traditional Peruvian food at an affordable price compared to places like La Mar and Itamae (everything on the menu is under $20). It’s been around for more than a decade and the food is a solid representation of typical Limeño dishes that have been adapted to Miami. Lomo saltado, which is traditionally made with sirloin, is made with churrasco here, and their huancaína sauce has the consistency of a creamy soup, which is the American style of making this spicy, cheesy sauce.
This is one of the oldest Peruvian restaurants in Miami, and both of its locations - Bird Road and Miami Beach - are still popular among Peruvians to this day (it was also the first Peruvian restaurant I went to in the US). The Miami Beach location, just off Washington Ave, used to be quite a dive but has polished itself to keep up with the ever-increasing roster of fancy Peruvian restaurants in town. Fortunately, it’s maintained its classic criollo-style menu. This is one of the best places to get hearty dishes like seco de res - chunks of beef braised in a beer and cilantro sauce - and tallarines verdes with bistec apanado, a favorite Italian-Peruvian pasta tossed in a creamy spinach and basil sauce with a breaded steak cutlet. It’s a classic dish that El Chalan does the traditional way and when I’m craving a taste of home, this is where I like to go.