Central has outgrown Lima’s touristic district, and is causing a wave in Barranco – Lima’s oasis of hip just down the coast. The restaurant may have only moved 10 minutes south, but has laid the foundation for a much more elevated experience.
Central caused a scrumptious stir in the international food scene upon introducing its intriguing tasting menu. Myriad awards have grown the buzz since, including being named the “Best Restaurant in Latin America” the last 4 years, and ranked #4 in the world the last two. Central’s creator and visionary Virgilio Martinez has curated a masterpiece Chef’s Table experience, born from the native Peruvian’s fascination – and respect – for his country’s considerable biodiversity. Take a tantalizing tour through the many flavors of Peru. The twist is this: diners don’t start at the coast and move their way across the Andes to the jungle. Diners start at sea level, eating their way up in elevation to almost 15,000 feet. The 17-step tasting menu sources each plate’s ingredients based on the altitude they call home, working its way up from sea to mountaintop. A 17-step vegetarian option is available for those who prefer it, as are 11-course options which explore Peru by ecosystem, rather than elevation.
Getting a table at Central has been notoriously difficult, due to the time-consuming eating experience, intimate restaurant size, and the fact that reservations are only possible up to four months out. The new digs solves one of these problems. Central’s new location brings chic design to the bohemian, artsy neighborhood of Barranco, as well as a considerably larger dining area built specifically for the restaurant’s inventive gastronomic production. As Martinez and his wife/partner recently released in a statement “At this new site we have the potential to be better, the chance to continue growing, to be creative and have the area needed to experiment, to process, to keep working hard, to be more organized.” On the subject of experimentation, the gastronomic world waits with baited breath. On the matter of growth, Martinez has released a few clues.
Upon entering Central, diners wind their way through manicured gardens before arriving at the compound. Central restaurant occupies a large portion of the building, but space on the ground floor has been left for a new experimental bar concept. Space on the top floor has been left for a separate restaurant concept devised by Virgilio’s wife, and a large area has been set aside for a brand new research project…
In addition to an innovative eating experience, Martinez has curated a scientific institute furthering his cause (and his kitchen): Mater Iniciativa. The project is a biological and cultural expedition, of epic proportions. Teams of researchers scour Peru’s most remote and diverse landscapes in search of new ingredients not yet utilized. The goal is not simply to gather ingredients and cook them, but to understand new culinary elements, what they bring to the table (no pun intended), and to tell their story through artistic gastronomy.
Central represents a crossroads of fine gastronomy, cultural pride and storytelling, and responsible eco-research. This is a delicate marriage of art and science, funneled into a world-class culinary journey packaged for discerning patrons. For best results, a dinner at Central is perfectly capped off with a night at Lima’s newest luxury hotel hideaway, Atemporal. Similar to what Martinez brings to the culinary scene, Atemporal has brought an effortless sense of place and flavor of distinction to Lima’s hotel scene, landing Lima a firm foothold on the list of world-class destinations. Complimentary styles, innovative experiences, and exclusive addresses make Central and Atemporal the two Lima superstars to watch in 2019.
A never-ending selection of cafés across the city is one of the many reasons to come and experience Lima. Peruvian fare, including its keen eye for sustainability practices, pairs perfectly with home-grown coffee. Whether catching up with friends over an iced tea, finishing up work on the terrace with a light breakfast, or just people watching from the wide windows of your local shop with a pour over, come see the heart of South America.
If one needs an introduction to Peruvian cocktails, consider the Pisco Sour. A delightful drink of native grapes – a type of brandy with a rigorous vetting process – and frothed egg white, it is known the world over for its flavor, appearance, and authentic Peruvian identity. It is iconic, well-balanced, and remarkably tasty, but it is just the beginning of what this country, and its capital city, have to offer.
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