Folkloric Music and Dance
The Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo (El Sol 604, tel. 084/22-7901, US$5), founded in 1924, has a highly recommended music and dance show 6:45–7:45 p.m. on most evenings. The Centro was founded in 1924 as the first organized music and dance center in Cusco. Most of the Peruvian restaurants in the Plaza de Armas have live Andean music during dinner.
The once prestigious Garcilaso cinema and theater, has gone through many transformations since its opening in 1963, including housing a pornographic cinema, evangelical church, and arcade all at the same time. In 2007 it was converted into the Teatro Kusikay (Union 117, tel. 084/25-5414, www.kusikay.com, 9 a.m.–9 p.m. Mon.–Sat.), solely dedicated to the show Paukartanpu, which is a colorful spectacle based on a religious festival. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Monday–Saturday and costs US$35. It is a modern and fun insight into Andean culture interpreted through impressive acrobatics, traditional dance, music, and folklore, as well as theater and circus.
A great place to hang out either at night or during the day is Los Perros Couch & Wine Bar (Tecsecocha 436, tel. 084/24-1447, 11 a.m.–midnight daily, US$5). The relaxed atmosphere and comfy couches make an inviting backdrop for a delicious light lunch, an afternoon smoothie over a game of backgammon, a cup of coffee perusing a magazine, or a nice glass of red wine in the evening.
Just up the road is Indigo (Tecsecocha 2, 2nd Fl., tel. 084/26-0271, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. daily, US$5), another nice place to slump into a couch in front of an open fire and unwind. Hookahs are available with an impressive selection of exotic tobaccos. The Thai dishes are not bad and reasonably priced.
Known for its raucous private parties, Fallen Angel Fire & Ice (Plazoleta Nazarenas 221, tel. 084/25-8184, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. daily, US$5) is the most outrageous place to get a drink. There are glass-covered bathtub fish tanks instead of tables, techno music, and multicolored daiquiris. The steaks are the specialty of the creative dinner menu. The owner, Andres Zuniga, has also set up a lavish and flamboyant guesthouse on the same property.
Despite the distracting decor, The Tea Rooms (Santa Teresa 364, 2nd Fl., tel.084/23-1317, noon–midnight daily, US$7) is spacious and bright and not a bad place for an evening martini or a classic, though overpriced, afternoon tea for two with sandwiches, scones, and cakes for US$17.
Pubs and Live Music
The English Cross Keys Pub (Triunfo 350, 2nd Fl., tel. 084/22-9227, 10 a.m.–2 a.m. daily) recently moved to a new location, but nevertheless continues to be a Cusco classic owned by Barry Walker, British consul and owner of Manu Expeditions. It has dartboards, typical pub fare including chili con carne, and English beer on tap. Happy hours run 6:30–7:30 p.m. and 9:30–10 p.m.
Another good pub in town with nice views over the Plaza de Armas and a great place to play a game of pool or darts is Nortons (Santa Catalina Angosta 116, 7 a.m.–2 a.m. daily). There is an impressive selection of imported beers from England, Belgium, and Mexico, including Old Speckled Hen and Abbot Ale on tap. For hangovers a classic English breakfast and a cheap Bloody Mary do the trick.
The atmosphere at Paddy Flaherty’s Irish Pub (Triunfo 124, tel. 084/24-7719, 11 a.m.–2 a.m.) is a taste of home, at least for those of us who hang out at Irish pubs. It serves Guinness, among other beers, and has a two-for-one happy hour 7–8 p.m. The kitchen offers shepherd’s pie, chicken wings, and stuffed potato skins.
For something a little different try La Chupeteria Shot Bar (Tecsecocha 400, 8 p.m.–late daily). The imposing picture of Che Guevara and the motto “revolutionary drinking theory” say it all. La Chupeteria adds an exciting twist to a night on the town with its huge array of creative shots. For an impressive spectacle of fire and sparks the Swiss Verbier shot is a must.
Another interesting drinking experience is El Pisquerito (San Juan de Dios 250, tel. 084/23-5223, www.elpisquerito.com, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. daily). Owned by one of Peru’s most experienced bartenders, Hans Hilburg, this charming little bar specializes exclusively in pisco. There is an extensive menu of delicious designer cocktails and a nice selection of Spanish-style tapas and pizzas.
Hands down the best mojito in Cusco is at Hierba Buena (Suytuk’atu 715-B, San Blas, tel. 084/26-0685, 9 a.m.–12:30 a.m. Mon.–Sat.). Make sure to also try the chicha tu madre, a drink made with purple maize juice and pisco.
If you are up for some live music there are plenty of places in Cusco. Locals and foreigners head to Ukukus (Plateros 316, 8 p.m.–late daily, sometimes a small cover on weekends), a live music venue and bar that has been a classic of Cusco’s nightlife scene since it was founded over a decade ago. Shows start at 10:30 p.m. and range from Afro-Peruvian to rock, with affordable drinks.
The hippest place for an evening out is Bullfrogs (Warankallki 185, tel. 084/22-1762, 3 p.m.–late daily), a large, two-story, gay-friendly bar with stone walls and colorful beanbags. It has a great atmosphere, the cocktails are good, entertainment options include a pool table, foosball, movies during the day, and live music nightly.
A local expat favorite and a good live music spot that has been around for years is 7 Angelitos (Siete Angelitos 638, tel. 084/23-6373, 3 p.m.–late daily). Walter, the entertaining owner, prides himself on having some of the best mojitos in town. There are two-for-one happy hours 7:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.–11:30 p.m. just as the bands start playing. If it is late and the door is closed just knock, as it is more than likely the party will still be going on inside.
Above the Plazoleta San Blas, KM0 (Tandapata 100, tel. 084/23-6009, 3 p.m.–2 a.m. daily), Indigo’s sister bar, has been a live music hot spot for years and has happy hour all night.
If you still have energy after a pub warmup, there are many places to dance until dawn in Cusco. The Cusco nightclub scene is constantly changing. Clubs open and close monthly and the “in” place has no real criteria.
Recently, however, the most frequented dance spot and therefore extremely crowded is Inkateam (Portal de Carnes 298, 9 p.m.–6 a.m. daily). Tourists and locals dance to the blasting sounds of techno, reggae, and electro. Happy hour is 9 p.m.–midnight, and there are also free salsa classes every night 9–11 p.m.
Mama África (Portal de Panes 109, 3rd Fl., www.mamaafricaclub.com, 9 p.m.–6 a.m. daily) has been around for a 15 years but is constantly moving and has at various times been the place to go. It still fills up, and every Wednesday at 2 a.m. they have electronic sessions.
Another of Cusco’s frequented dance spots is Roots (Waynapata 194, 9 p.m.–6 a.m. daily), which also offers salsa classes at 9 p.m. Once you have perfected your salsa moves head to El Muki (Santa Catalina 114, 10 p.m.–6 a.m. weekends), the best salsa spot in Cusco, frequented almost exclusively by Cusqueños.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition