Pueblo Libre – Lima, Peru’s New-Old Hot Spot
By Maureen Santucci
There was a time when travelers to Peru were encouraged to give Lima a miss and just go straight to Cusco and Machu Picchu. Now, due to it’s increased recognition as a must-visit for the gastronomically inclined, more and more people are spending time in Peru’s capital city.
With increased time in Lima to take advantage of world-class lunches and dinners also comes more free time to spend between meals, and the ability to branch out from the districts of Miraflores, San Isidro and the city center. One such place that is highly recommended is Pueblo Libre.
Although the district took on the name Pueblo Libre in 1821, it was founded in 1557 as Magdalena Vieja, making it one of the oldest areas in the city and one that still retains a nostalgic feel to it. It boasts the most parks in the Lima which, along with the prevalence of colonial buildings, makes it a lovely place to just have a wander.
There’s a lot more to do than just amble along the streets, however, as one of the best museums in all of Lima is located here, the Museo Rafael Larco Herrera (Museo Larco for short). The Larco is famous for the beauty of its pre-Colombian artifacts, in particular the erotic pottery housed in a separate exhibit. The on-site café is a nice place to grab a tasty meal if you don’t have other plans.
Another museum that is tops in the city and located in Pueblo Libre is the Museo Nacional de Arqueología Antropología e Historia del Perú (The National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History of Peru). The oldest and largest museum in the country, it includes pieces from prehispanic, colonial and republican times.
Although Pueblo Libre is not yet home to much in the way of gourmet establishments, if you have a dinner to spare, you might want to check out El Bolivariano. This is an old school typical Peruvian kind of place, rather than the fusion that the city’s finest restaurants usually serve. It’s a restobar but, when it comes to trying out some pisco libations, there are better places in the area to go.
While the Antigua Taberna Queirolo is another old school establishment frequently touted as the place to give the national liquor a try, it can get pretty noisy, especially on weekends. The typical way to drink pisco here is to order a bottle, served with ice and ginger ale or lemon.
A newer place, but with a history as well, is El Pisquerito, located not far from the Taberna. In this case, the legend is not so much with the bar itself as with the owner and creator of the bar’s signature cocktails, Hans Hilburg. Hans is renowned as a leading pisco expert, and even put together the original bar menu for Gaston Acurio (Peru’s most famous chef).
Housed in a historic Pueblo Libre building, El Pisquerito features an impressive list of pisco-based drinks, combining it with a variety of native fruits and other indigenous flavors such as coca. There are many fine sipping piscos to choose from as well. For those who would prefer something other than pisco to drink, the bar has no shortage of excellent wines to sample.
The atmosphere is warm and friendly, with music that makes for a nice background, without being so overpowering that you can’t hear the person next to you. You can’t leave Peru without trying some great pisco, and one of the best places to do so is El Pisquerito in Pueblo Libre. Be advised that these are powerful concoctions so have the staff call you a taxi at the end of your evening!
Originally from the US, Maureen Santucci now calls the ancient Peruvian capital of Cusco home, where she has lived for 6 years, working as a travel consultant as well as writing for Fodors Travel Guide. This article was written on behalf of Aracari Travel, experts in providing luxury tours to Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.
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