Where to Eat in Puno
Most of the tourist oriented restaurants in Puno are located on or just off Jr. Lima, the pedestrianized street that runs from the bottom of Puno's Plaza de Armas (main square) to Parque Pino.
At some point, it seems, someone in Puno decided that all tourists want to eat pizza -- and then everyone copied the idea (a similar thing happened in Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu Pueblo). There are pizzerias everywhere in the city center, and many of the restaurants that aren’t even pizzerias advertise pizza above all else.
This seemingly contagious pizza-obsession hasn’t done much to help the food scene in Puno, and it's not always easy to find a good place to eat. A handful of restaurants, however, stand out from the crowd, most notably La Table del' Inca and La Estancia Grill -- both of which sit among my all-time favorite restaurants in Peru.
La Table del' Inca
The French-owned La Table del' Inca is the most sophisticated restaurant in Puno. You could easily transplant this restaurant to Lima, Arequipa or Cusco and it would still compete with the best that those cities have to offer. Quite why it ended up in Puno is a different question altogether, but food fans searching for real quality on the banks of Lake Titicaca will be glad that it did.
Owned by three Frenchmen – two chefs and the ever-professional Hugo working front of house -- La Table del' Inca offers an S/.80 set menu that includes a handful of tempting choices for your starter, main course and dessert, along with a glass of wine or bottle of beer.
The style is French-Peruvian fusion with a few twists on classic local dishes, such as trout ceviche with an avocado foam, paupiettes of alpaca in mustard sauce, or a semi-deconstructed aji de gallina with ratatouille.
As anyone who has been to Puno can attest, this is not the kind of food you typically find in the city. Thankfully, these dishes are thoughtful rather than pretentious, and you can see where your S/.80 -- no small amount for a meal in Peru -- has gone.
From the polite and informative service to the artistic presentation of the food, it’s obvious that the owners of La Table del' Inca are putting plenty of passion, love, and attention into their restaurant. If you’re not on too tight of a budget and you want to have an elevated culinary experience in Puno, this is -- without a doubt -- the place to go.
- Address: Jr. Ancash 239
- Website: none, but there is a La Table del' Inca Facebook page
La Estancia Grill
AddressLibertad 137, Puno 21001, Peru
Phone+51 51 351196
If you want sophisticated food with an artistic flair, go to La Table del' Inca. If you want something more akin to a Viking feast, go to La Estancia Grill. With huge chunks of succulent meat, no-nonsense service and pisco sours for just S/.5.50, this traditional Peruvian grill is a booze-swigging carnivore’s paradise.
If you see lechon al horno (roasted suckling pig) among the specials of the day, order it. This dish blew me away with its perfect simplicity: a big chunk of juicy pork accompanied by two crispy roast potatoes and a red onion salsa. On a cold and drizzly day in Puno, or after a day or two kayaking on Lake Titicaca, nothing could be better.
Along with the usual meaty Peruvian classics -- anticuchos, cuy, alpaca, trout, pork chops and more – the menu at La Estancia Grill also has soups, omelets and pasta dishes. But when you can get a massive hunk of roast suckling pig for just S/.23, who needs soup?
La Estancia Grill is a real local hangout and doesn't particularly pander to the tourist crowd, which is a good thing as far as I'm concerned. Go with a group of friends or fellow travelers, order a few beers and a few pisco sours, and dig in -- you won't regret it.
- Address: Jr. Libertad 137
Mojsa Restaurant is the classic touristy-restaurant-on-the square, the kind of place that most locals (and the Puno tourist information office) recommend to foreign visitors. It’s reliable without being exceptional, with a warm wooden-floored second-floor dining area and a small balcony with a couple of tables overlooking Puno’s main square.
The menu is a mix of local specialties, popular Peruvian classics and standard international fare. Titicaca trout makes an unsurprising appearance, both grilled and as ceviche. You’ll also find alpaca and cuy, and Peruvian regulars like lomo saltado, aji de gallina and rocoto relleno. Mains range from about S/.26 to S/.42. Salads, pastas and pizzas make up the rest of the menu.
If you can get a balcony seat on a sunny day, Mojsa Restaurant is a pleasant place to sit and eat or have a coffee while watching scenes of traditional Peruvian life unfold in the square below.
- Address: Jr. Lima 635 (second floor)
- Website: mojsarestaurant.com
Inca Bar (sometimes stylized as IncAbar) is a café-bar-restaurant combo on the main restaurant strip, offering breakfasts, decent coffee, good sandwiches, à la carte options and a solid lunchtime menú to the international tourist crowd.
The menú here – I had a tasty chicken soup followed by a thin slice of grilled alpaca -- was probably the best I had in Puno. You'll also find dishes such as curry, orange Titicaca trout and a vegetable stir fry.
The restaurant itself is a comfortable place to seek refuge, unwind and make use of the Wi-Fi over a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. And if you’re in need of something alcoholic, Inca Bar’s daily happy hour has pisco sours, Cuba libres, screwdrivers and more at two for S/.16.
- Address: Jr. Lima 348
- Website: http://incabar.restaurantsnapshot.com/