After leaving the beautiful Isla del Sol, we took a bus from Copacabana and crossed the Bolivian border, entering into Peru. Our first stop was Puno, a town known for the nearby Uros islands, also known as the floating islands. We were there for less than 24 hours but managed to see the floating islands, and find a great dinner spot. Initially, we set out in search of a vegetarian restaurant recommended by Lonely Planet. We walked up and down the same street several times before coming to the conclusion that the vegetarian restaurant we were looking for had gone out of business. In its place was a new restaurant, Balcones de Peru. With the offer of a free glass of wine and a Peruvian music and dance show, we were lured in. First to arrive at our table was a plate of beautifully displayed root vegetable chips with a small dish of sweet and sour sauce.
We totally lucked out. The menu had several options that were vegan or required minimal adjustments. Our friend Dan ordered the vegetable brochettes, a combo of skewered onion, eggplant, pepper, zucchini and potatoes. I didn’t have a chance to try a bite but he vouched for their tastiness.
Totally out of character, I ordered the pasta dish. The pasta was paired with some veggies, including broccoli, carrots, peppers, mushrooms and some textured vegetable protein. On the side, there was a smear of tomato sauce. Sadly, not enough to go around. Also, on the side, there were a few strands of cheese, despite the fact that we asked for the dish sin queso (without cheese). I managed to ignore the cheese and didn’t make a scene. I’m not usually a fan of pasta but I have to say it was pretty good and the presentation was impressive. The little cracker, topped with three flower petals, was so precious it made me giddy.
John had success with his request for a vegetable pizza sin queso. He received a mini pizza with a generous serving of vegetables and was kind enough to trade a few bites of his pizza for a few bites of my pasta.
After a long day of bus travel and a quick trip to the floating islands, we were happy to have found such a great dining option. We ate our dinner while watching a local group preform traditional dances and songs. You never know when a regular, run-of-the-mill tourist restaurant is going to step up with quality and presentation to deliver a dining experience that surpasses your expectations.
Uros Floating Islands
I’ll leave you with two pictures from the Uros islands, where all of the homes, boats and many of the crafts are made from dried reeds that grown in Lake Titicaca.