Our time in Lima, Peru was limited. We only had three days and two nights in the city. With our travel funds for the month running low, we decided to only eat at one restaurant. We didn’t take this choice lightly. For advice, we turned to the trusty internet and read some reviews. After eating at AlmaZen, I can tell you it’s no surprise they’re the fan favourite in Lima. Thanks to them, our last restaurant meal in South America was the best yet
We arrived at Alma Zen shortly after 5:00 p.m. We were too late for lunch and too early for dinner. The waitress sat us in the front room and handed us the tea menu. We tried to communicate our desire to eat a meal by making all kinds of dorky gestures. She didn’t speak English; all we did was confuse her. She went to get the owner, a lovely man who, thankfully, spoke excellent English. He politely explained they weren’t ready for dinner guests but did have some leftovers from lunch and would be willing to make us something. We told him about being vegan and he quickly rhymed off some possible dishes. We placed our order, took a seat and hoped for the best. The place looked beautiful but, really, what could we expect from lunch leftovers?
First to arrive, the best lemonade of our life. I don’t know how they did it. We’ve had lemonade at 10+ restaurants over the last three months and this one blew every single one of them out of the water. We tried to guess what set it apart and came up with a hypothesis. We think it was made with steeped lemon tea, freshly squeezed lemon juice, lemon pulp, and ice. Whatever it was, it was blended and frothed to make one, miraculous lemonade.
Next to arrive, some freshly made bread topped with just the right amount of oil and sea salt. Along side the bread, they served us some rose coloured, lightly flavoured, iced tea.
For entrees, we ordered salad and soup. The salad, made entirely from local, organic produce (like everything in the restaurant), was absolutely gorgeous and tasted as good as it looked. The tomatoes were like no tomatoes I’d ever had. They were so jam packed with flavour, I ate a few on their own and took my time to enjoy the unique and powerful taste. The salad, made up of greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, squash and carrots, was topped with some blended avocado and sprouts. It was a master piece.
The soup, John’s choice, was also top notch. It was made with lots of great veggies but the squash and broccoli were the star ingredients. Even though it arrived piping hot, John ate it quickly. He knows I love soups. If I hadn’t been distracted by the salad, I would have been fighting him for the spoon.
John’s main dish was Vegetable Provence, a beautiful plate of baked vegetables with a side of greens. There were three kinds of potatoes, as well as onions, carrots, baby leaks, tomatoes and calabaza (pumpkin). Everything was seasoned using aromatic herbs and olive oil. Provence, a city in France, is know for it’s beautiful produce and the use of fresh herbs and quality oil. If this dish is a reflection of what the food is like there, I must visit!
My main course was a stuffed eggplant boat, which was full of onions, squash, and eggplant, topped with the cutest little tomatoes. The owner, and chef, explained all tomatoes originated from these little guys, which are apparently descendant from the world’s first tomatoes. We found this incredibly interesting. The eggplant boat, as well as the sides of quinoa, green beans and lettuce were incredibly flavourful and delicious.
Our meal at AlmaZen was better than we could have ever hoped for. At most restaurants, if you showed up outside of regular hours looking for food, you’d be turned away. If they served you microwaved leftovers, you’d be lucky. AlmaZen went out of their way to accommodate us despite our untimely arrival. The food was all prepared fresh and the results, magical.
AlmaZen also sells grocery items and baked goods (sadly, not vegan), including peanut butter, chocolate, nuts and cookies. One of their most unique items was sacha inchi butter. I’d never heard of sacha inchi before but learned it’s a variety of peanut that was popular amongst the Incas. Apparently, it’s an up and coming super food, known for being a high source of with omega 3. I didn’t try the butter, but had a few nuts. They don’t really taste like peanuts, more like old Brazil nuts. The taste is strong, semi bitter and grassy.
The prices at AlmaZen reflect the quality. Our total bill, for one drink, two starters, and two mains, was $116 Peruvian Nuevo Soles ($40.91 USD). We hadn’t paid that much for a meal since leaving Buenos Aires. But it was worth it. And, hey, it was our one and only meal in Lima.
Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Mon. to Fri. 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sat. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Tel: 243 0474