Peruvian cuisine is definitely more meat-heavy than most, and so vegetarians in Peru might struggle to find a decent meal in many restaurants. Most waiting staff will understand the expression “I’m a vegetarian”, but may not release that this excludes chicken, and in many cases fish, so try to be as clear as possible and learn some basic Spanish phrases. The same goes for allergies and intolerances, such as coeliac disease, which aren’t as common here.
With alpaca and guinea pig taking centre stage in the Andes, it’s good to have a backup list of suitable restaurants for those times when you can’t be bothered to read every menu you pass! So, here are (in our opinion) the best restaurants for vegetarians in Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley, including suggestions for vegans and those on a gluten-free diet as well…
Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Restaurants in Cusco
Marcelo Batata, upstairs at Calle Palacio 121 – This is actually one of our favourite restaurants in Cusco even if you’re not vegetarian, but they have plenty of meat-free options clearly labelled on the menu, and even some vegan choices too. The veggie chilli is delicious, as are the salads. Also, Macelo Batata labels gluten-free and nut-free options on the menu as well. We highly recommend booking a table on the rooftop terrace, which offers great views of the city.
Cicciolina, through the courtyard and upstairs at Triunfo 327 – Another of our favourites for meat-eaters and vegetarians alike, Cicciolina is the best tapas restaurant in Cusco. You can choose to eat in the formal restaurant with the full menu or in the bar with the tapas menu, and we recommend going for the latter option as the atmosphere is great. There are vegetarian dishes to choose from, and we particularly love anything with the grilled aubergine.
Green Point, Carmen Bajo 235 – This completely vegan restaurant is a good choice for lunch, as they do a set menu with a buffet for starters. The main menu includes a wide range of options which you won’t find anywhere else, including quinoa burgers and vegan lasagne. The soups and deserts are particularly good as well, and they even do gluten-free options, including bread.
Inka Grill, Portal de Panes 115 – This is a good option for groups with both meat-eaters and vegetarians, as the menu is big and has both traditional dishes and European options as well, so there should be something for everyone. The staff are more than happy to make amendments to menu items to remove ingredients, but there’s a good selection of starters in particular for vegetarians.
Jack’s Café, Choquechaka 509 – This one’s a bit of a guilty pleasure… We usually like to avoid tourist restaurants where possible, but Jack’s is an acceptation whether you’re vegetarian or not, especially if you need a break from Peruvian cuisine. Everything on the menu is hearty and filling, and we particularly recommend the Mediterranean soup and grilled veg toastie with hummus and fries.
Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Restaurants in Machu Picchu/Aguas Calientes
Tree House Restaurant, Av Imperio de los Incas – There’s a definite shortage of good restaurants in Aguas Calientes, and the Tree House is a tricky one to find unless you know where you’re going. It’s located behind the main square up some steep steps, at the Rupa Wasi Hotel. All of the food is fresh and healthy, but the quinoa salad and homemade gnocchi are standouts. There are also gluten-free options available, and even boxed lunches for those with dietary requirements.
Café Inkaterra, Imperio de los Incas – This is one of the best restaurants in town, located in the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. The Amazon-inspired dining room is a beautiful setting, and gets you away from the hustle and bustle of the main street. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are labelled on the menu, and the lasagne is one of the best we’ve had in Peru, it’s just a shame it’s only a starter portion!
Indio Feliz, Calle Lloque Yupanqui 103 – This is one of Aguas Caliente’s most highly-rated restaurants, and although it’s quite a casual place to eat, the food is good, a blend of Peruvian and French cuisines. The menu is especially good for pescatarians, as there are a range of fish dishes, but there’s pasta for vegetarians and soups for vegans as well.
Vegetarian/Gluten-Free Restaurants in the Sacred Valley
El Albergue, in the train station at Ollantaytambo – This hotel is one of the best in Ollantaytambo, and the restaurant is equally good, using fresh ingredients from their farm next door. The dining room is small and intimate, and there is usually live music. The stuffed pepper is a good option for vegetarians and coeliacs alike, and the antipasti sharing platter can be made vegetarian as well.
Ulrike’s, Calle Pardo 613, Pisac – For a casual lunch in the market town of Pisac (or Pisaq) Ulrike’s is a great option for vegetarian, vegan and even gluten-free diets. It’s a bit touristy but the pizzas are nice and there are some traditional dishes on the menu as well.
Hawa, Av. Ferrocarril S/N, Urubamba – The Hawa Restaurant is located in the Tambo del Inka Hotel, but it’s much more than your typical hotel restaurant. It’s one of the only fine dining options in the Sacred Valley, and caters for all dietary requirements. Everything is Peruvian inspired, and most of the ingredients come from nearby farms, so vegetarians will enjoy the great selection of fresh vegetable dishes and sides.
More Restaurants for Vegetarians in Peru…
Of course, there are plenty more vegetarian/gluten-free friendly restaurants in Peru if you know where to look! Here are some of our other favourites…
Raw Café, Calle Independencia 587, Miraflores, Lima – One of Lima’s only vegan cafés, Raw is great for Peruvian ingredients with a twist. The menu changes daily and it’s the perfect place to simple vegetables and grains from the local area.
Veggie Pizza, Colina 112, Barranco, Lima – Barranco is Lima’s artsy neighbourhood, and it’s a nice place to go for dinner. Vegetarians in Peru will find lots of pizza restaurants about, but Veggie Pizza has a delicious selection, all made in a wood-fired oven.
Zig Zag, Calle Zela 210, Arequipa – This is one of our favourite restaurants in the country, great for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. The service is incredible, and they have a good understanding of different dietary requirements. The quinoa soup is delicious, as are the deserts.
Mojsa, Jiron Lima 635, Puno (Lake Titicaca) – This is a favourite of locals and tourists alike, overlooking the main square. Gluten-free and vegetarian options are labelled on the menu, which consists of hearty traditional Peruvian dishes. The quinoa salads in one of the best we’ve ever had.
Colors Restaurant, Jiron Lima 348, Puno (Lake Titicaca) – Colors is a backpacker café on the main street in Puno, so it’s cheap and cheerful, perfect for lunch. There are plenty of vegetarian options on the menu, including a delicious vegetable curry, which you’re unlikely to find elsewhere in Peru!