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Lima is a gorgeous city. It sits along the western coast of Peru, its beaches kissed by the Pacific Ocean.
It’s no surprise that Lima is known for ceviche — a dish that consists of fresh, raw seafood that’s cured in citrus juice, mixed with raw red onion, and bolstered by aji chilies (a spicy pepper similar to a Fresno chili).
It’s a dish that brings together much of what defines Peruvian cuisine.
Ceviche is a great representation of Peru’s vast ecological diversity. There’s the Andean region, which stretches above the clouds (and provides starchy potatoes); the coastal regions, teeming with fresh seafood; and vast stretches in between.
Central Restaurante, the No. 6 restaurant in the world according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Academy, takes the concept of representing Peru’s bio-diversity to a far more serious extreme. Perhaps you saw the restaurant featured in the latest season of “Chef’s Table” on Netflix?
Whether you did or not doesn’t matter — I ate at Central in 2017 while on vacation in Peru, and I’m here to tell you what that bizarre experience was like.
Central is in one of the fanciest neighborhoods in Lima: Miraflores.
Miraflores is a gorgeous neighborhood that sits alongside the Pacific Ocean. Apartment buildings and corporate offices overlook the water, while tourists and locals shop and eat below.
Among the Brooks Brothers and Chili’s outlets (really!) is the subtle visage of Central, on a side street tucked a few blocks from the ocean. There’s no huge sign, no menu out front — you can only tell you’re in the right place because of an employee out front who’s looking for you.
Oh, and there was a ridiculously fancy car parked out front. That was another good sign.
It’s literally blocks from the Pacific Ocean.
Christian Haugen via Flickr
I’d strongly suggest a jaunt along the waterfront before heading to Central. It’s a gorgeous view, and certainly part of the joy of visiting Central — you’re right there! It seems foolish not to enjoy the waterfront first.
When we entered Central and were seated, the first thing I noticed is how open and bright the dining room and kitchen are. I could see directly into the open kitchen whenever I wanted.
Central Restaurante via Instagram
Even though Central is outrageously expensive, and even though it’s rated as one of the best restaurants in the world, there’s little pretension in the experience. Our waiter was friendly, happy to joke about the somewhat-ludicrous eating experience we were having. That’s a far cry from places like Masa and Eleven Madison Park, to say nothing of supper club steakhouses, which traffic in pretension and pomp.
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