Where to Find the Best Peruvian Restaurants around Boston
Map a trek through standout spots for the vibrant South American cuisine, right here at home.
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Now that vaccination rates are rising and restrictions are loosening up, we’re all eager to stamp our passports again soon. In the meanwhile, though, Bostonians can get a bit closer to the Southern Hemisphere—in spirit, anyhow—by mapping a trek through these standout Peruvian restaurants that are right here at home.
What started as a Peruvian supper club at the home of Maria Rondeau and JuanMa Calderón eventually became Celeste, an intimate Somerville restaurant that trains an arty, contemporary lens on everything from Incan stew to spicy potato terrine to some of the best, freshest ceviche this side of Lima. Now, three years after Celeste debuted in Union Square, the pair behind it is preparing to evolve yet again: This fall Rondeau and Calderón plan to open La Royal, a bigger Peruvian restaurant over in Cambridge, mere steps from the home where their journey together began.
21 Bow St., Somerville, 617-616-5319, celesteunionsquare.com.
Machu Picchu (and Machu Chicken)
Many years before Celeste arrived to Somerville’s Union Square, Machu Picchu had already fortified its reputation on the other side of the same city block. Peru native Rosy Cerna’s first restaurant is still a wonder, thanks to the traditional-feeling trappings—colorful murals and textiles, stuffed llamas on display, and of course, imagery of the namesake 15th-century citadel—as well as the cuisine: tamales of pork wrapped in banana leaf, a superlative seafood stew, and rotisserie chicken with aji amarillo sauce. Those charcoal-roasted birds are the main event, meanwhile, at Cerna’s second restaurant across the street, Machu Chicken.
The newest entry on this list, Peruvian Taste arrived during pandemic-times to the space that formerly housed Charlestown Cafe. It’s a morning-through-night destination that offers both American and Peruvian breakfast fare—including traditional tamales and waffles topped with lucuma ice cream—as well as lunch and dinner plates of ceviche, chicharrón, and more. In addition, though, part of the menu is devoted specifically to Peruvian-Chinese cuisine, or chifa, making it a place to find some particularly tempting fusion spins on lo mein, wontons, and more.
78 Arlington Ave., Charlestown, 617-242-5100, peruvian-taste-restaurant.com.
Pollos a la Brasa Beto’s
It may be perched in Eastie’s Eagle Hill district, but Peruvian-style rotisserie chickens are what bait us to this spare and simple mom-and-pop operation. After all, who needs frills when you have spectacularly seasoned, spicily-sauced quarter, half, and whole chickens, plus licuados (Latin American milk and fruit smoothies) to wash those big birds down?
294 Bennington St., East Boston, 617-561-6005.
Here’s a big idea: Pull out a patio seat at this East Boston institution and order yourself a spread from the dozen-strong list of piqueos, or small plates, including a lemony ceviche and mussels dressed with lime juice. Such citrus flavors carry over to larger dishes too, including the namesake Clasico Rincon Limeño, a shareable assortment of lemon-marinated, deep fried calamari, shrimp, and more. Naturally, a Pisco Sour—its tartness tempered by a topping of egg-white foam—is the perfect cocktail for pairing.
409 Chelsea St., East Boston, 617-569-4942, rinconlimeno.com.
The team behind a family of beautiful and buzzy Boston restaurants—the glamorous New American sanctuary Yvonne’s, chic Cuban lounge Mariel, and sexy Mexican spot Lolita—turned their eye toward Peruvian fusion at Ruka. It’s a downtown stunner specializing in nikkei food, which brings Japanese influence to the South American country’s cuisine, and the results are pretty fantastic: think torched salmon makimoni with shiso chimichurri sauce, yakitori grilled mushrooms with aji picante, and desserts like cachangas, or Peruvian fried dough, with miso-butterscotch and caramelized pineapple ice cream.
505 Washington St., Boston, 617-266-0102, rukarestobar.com.
Although his long-running Peruvian-Italian restaurant in the North End, Taranta, wound up a casualty of the COVID-era economy, genial chef Jose Duarte still offers transportive cuisine at Tambo 22, which opened in Chelsea just before the shutdown. This project is chiefly Peruvian, though, offering plates that are elevated (skin-on salmon with a sugar cane-pepper glaze and pickled cabbage), accessible yet inventive (a burger of alpaca and beef patty with huacatay aji sauce), and familiar to Duarte’s fans: behold the banana leaf-wrapped Amazonian paiche, which was a signature dish at Taranta.
22 Adams St., Chelsea, 617-466-9422, tambo22chelsea.com.
Yes, it’s a market—note the small but mighty selection of Peruvian groceries. Absolutely, it’s a restaurant—after all, it offers pretty generous portions of ají de gallina (spicy and creamy Peruvian chicken stew), anticuchos (skewered beef hearts), and lomo saltado (stir fried steak with onions, tomatoes, and French fries). It is also, very importantly, a place to find plenty of South American sweets, including fruity cakes, cookie sandwiches, ice creams, and syrupy cups of shaved ice.
384 Chelsea St., East Boston, 857-256-2908, tuttifruttirestaurant.com