f you are new to Iquitos and Peru and are not familiar with Peruvian food, you are in for a real treat. The food in Iquitos, like its people, is an exotic blend with origins from all parts of Peru. Here you can enjoy
ceviche dishes from the Pacific Coast, cabrillo (kid) from Northern Peru,
cuy (Guinea Pig) from the Andes, as well as local dishes such as paiche (the world’s largest fresh water fish). One thing that makes the food here so delicious is the ready availability of charcoal made from tropical hardwoods. Locally-made charcoals impart a unique flavor to the food. This is especially true with
pollo a la brasa (rotisserie chicken) or pollo a la parrilla (grilled chicken). One important thing to know is that the word
menú is used differently here in Peru. The word menú in Peru does not refer to a list of prices (la carta) for various dishes. Instead it usually refers to an economical multiple course meal of the day. For those on a budget,
menú is the way to go.
The following reviews give ratings of a variety of restaurants ranging from economical to moderately expensive (by Peruvian terms). It is difficult to make a comparison without considering the price and therefore I have decided to use a rating system that evaluates food quality and quantity relative to price. A simple rating system is used with ten (10) indicating the highest rated restaurants. Please note that this review only represents my personal opinion and you might have a different experience with respect to these establishments.
1. The Huasaí, Fitzcarrald 102, phone 242-222. A hidden gem with world-class food. For seven soles (about $2.00) you can enjoy the daily
menú, a multiple course meal that includes an entree, the main course and a drink. The
menú changes everyday, but always includes five different choices: beef, chicken, fish, pork, and vegetarian dishes. The service is impeccable with an extremely friendly staff (say hello to sweet Anita for me). For breakfast try the regional tamales of
choclo (corn) or maní (peanut) which only cost one sol each. In the evening, the Huasaí has
parrilladas (barbecues). Also, be sure to try the excellent ceviche. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Rating: 10 (Editor’s Choice).
2. The Lounge, Putumayo 341. Order from la carta or try the weekly buffet, the best in town.
La carta consists of unique specialties such as brochetas served on flame-toasted
pan campesino (peasant bread), empanaditas (stuffed pastries) of ham cheese, broccoli, and black olives, spaghetti
al ajo (garlic), and vegetarian lasagna. There are four different weekly buffets. On Thursdays they have a
parrillada (barbeque). The barbeque varies, but typically has grilled beef and fish, spicy chicken wings, pasta, rice dishes, guacamole, and a variety of salads. On Friday, they have Italian dishes. Saturday is Mexican night, while Sunday features curry. Open daily for dinner. Rating: 9.0.
3. Snack Sizqui, Huallaga 648 (near the Plaza 28 de Julio). Literally a “hole in the wall,” but incredible value for the money. For one sole you can enjoy large regional
tamales of choclo (corn) or maní (peanut). Where else in town can you get filled for two soles? Also try the delicious
Juanes (rice with chicken wrapped in a maranta leaf). Recently, they enlarged their location and services. Now you can enjoy their daily
menú for only 2.5 soles (about 75¢)! But be sure to arrive early (before 12:00 noon), as they are extremely popular with the locals and tend to sell out quickly. For breakfast try the
arroz chaufa con huevo (fried rice with egg). Open daily from 7 in the morning to 9 in the evening (closed 2:00 - 5:00 pm). Rating 9.0.
4. Los Cangrejos, Richardo Palma near Prospero (across from the Hotel Victoria Regia). Great
ceviche and seafood. Try their unique ceviche that uses local Amazonian fish. In addition, enjoy their
paiche (the world’s largest fresh-water fish) when it is in season. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Rating: 8.0
5. El Zorrito, Faning 355 (near Sargento Lores). The most delicious
brochetas (shish kabobs) this side of the Middle-East. The combination of tropical charcoals together with wonderful marinates creates a flavor that is out of this world. Also try the delicious
antecucho (beef heart), chicken, fish, and lagarto (caiman) parrillas. Open daily for dinner. Rating: 8.0.
6. Kikiriki, Corner of Napo and Condamine, right next door to Al Carbon. A great place to try the local
pollo a la brasa with your choice of french fries or fried platanos. Adventurous eaters should try the delicious
antecuchos (beef heart). Eat in or take out. Open daily for dinner. Rating: 7.0.
7. Cyber Pizza Cafe, Plaza de 28 de Julio. Like to snack while you surf the internet? Then visit the Cyber Pizza Cafe. Here you can experience authentic Italian pizza (the owner is from Italy) or an American-style hamburger while you check your email. Enjoy a plate of spaghetti and a glass of wine for only 6 soles. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Rating: 7.0.
8. Gran Maloca, Sargento Lores 170, phone 233-126. Simply said, the most elegant restaurant in Iquitos. The place for eating steaks in style. Air conditioned. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Rating: 6.0.
9. Ari’s Burgers, corner of Napo and Raymondi. Extremely popular restaurant with good food and a comfortable environment. The variety of meal choices is the largest in town. Unfortunately, the food is relatively expensive and due to a large turnover in waitresses, the service is often poor. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Rating: 6.0.
10. Al Carbon, On Condamine near Napo. The place to enjoy
pollo a la parilla (my favorite). Also try the wonderful lomo fino (filet mignon). Unfortunately, they have a tendency to undercook their food and despite two attempts to have my meat fully cooked, it came back as crude as ever. Open daily for dinner. Rating: 5.0.