One of Cusco’s better Italian restaurants is Cosa Nostra (Plateros 358-A, 2nd Fl., tel. 084/23-2992, www.cosanostraristorante.com, noon–3:30 p.m. and 7–10:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., US$10–15). The pasta is fresh and prepared in the authentic Italian way. The gnocchi, beef carpaccio, and beef filet in balsamic sauce are also good.
Another excellent Italian restaurant with a new and improved menu is Incanto (Santa Catalina Angosta 135, tel. 084/25-4753, www.cuscorestaurants.com, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, US$10–12). The minimalist decor shows off not only the Inca walls, but also the simple and flavorful food. Service is impeccable. The squid ink risotto is divine and the homemade fettuccini with seafood is light, spicy, and extremely tasty.
Above Incanto and belonging to the same owner is Greens (Santa Catalina Angosta 135, 2nd Fl., tel. 084/24-3379, www.cuscorestaurants.com, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, US$10), a creative organic restaurant. The concept is that the ingredients are separated into food groups for you to mix and match to your liking. The vegetables are prepared simply but well with nice touches such as mashed potatoes made from potatoes roasted in lamb juice. Every single ingredient used in the restaurant is 100 percent organic right down to the whole-meal flour.
If you are after Indian food, Korma Sutra (Tandapata 909, tel. 084/23-3023, 5 p.m.–midnight Tues.–Sun., US$8–12) is a good option. While the decorations are a little somber and plain, the curries, although overpriced, are colorful and tasty, especially the onion bhaji and the lamb rogan josh.
The German-owned Granja Heidi (Cuesta San Blas 525, tel. 084/23-8383, 8:30 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) has farm-fresh produce, including delicious natural yogurt, homemade granola, and a light and tasty midday lunch menu for US$7.50.
At the top of Cuesta San Blas by the fountain in the Plazoleta San Blas is another light, fresh option for lunch. The cute and charming French-owned La Caverne del Oriente (Plazoleta San Blas 646, tel. 084/984-609-045, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, US$4) serves homemade French specialties such as hot goat’s cheese salad, flamenkuche, and Mediterranean dishes such as couscous. The lunch menu is limited but great value (US$3.50).
The Dutch/Argentinian-run Encuentros Café (Suecia 320, tel. 084/22-2703, www.encuentroscafe.com) also serves a worthwhile US$3.50 midday menu.
El Gusto Es Nuestro (Tecsecocha 420, tel. 084/25-5060, www.elgustoesnuestrorestaurant.com, 6–10:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., US$10) is an unpretentious family run restaurant. The friendly Cordon Bleu–trained chef not only cooks the delicious meals but also waits and interacts with the clients. The food is international and ranges from Cobb salad to French onion soup to local favorites like lomo saltado.
Australian Tammy Gordon’s Baco Wine Bar and Restaurant (Ruinas 465, tel. 084/24-2808, bacorestaurante [at] yahoo [dot] com, 6 p.m.–midnight Mon.–Sat., US$10–15) has a lovely, relaxing atmosphere. Thin-crust pizzas topped with such options as duck prosciutto and mushroom or blue cheese, marinated figs, and basil are simply delightful. Their organic salads and grilled meats are also delicious accompanied by a great wine from their extensive list.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition