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Green Gastronomy in Cusco: A Guide to Vegetarian and Vegan Dining

If I had to explain Peruvian cuisine to someone, I would tell them they eat fresh and raw fish all the time. The only dish I knew from Peru was ceviche. Yes, I hadn't had a clue about Peruvian dishes, and before I visited Peru, I mentally prepared myself for not having an endless choice of restaurants, since I follow a plant-based diet and abstain from meat 95% of the time.


Luckily, Cusco has proved me wrong.


Cusco is a heaven for vegetarians and vegans! Many plant-based options are available here, restaurants that offer substitute meat and allow vegetarians (and vegans) to experience Peruvian meat dishes without breaking their meat abstinence.


After spending almost two weeks in Cusco, I'd love to share my six gems regarding vegetarian and vegan eateries.


Table of Contents:


A Quick, Cheap, and Vegetarian Eatery in Cusco: El Encuentro

For those who'd like to have a quick dish that's affordable, I recommend visiting El Encuentro. Located not far from Plaza des Armas, the small and inconspicuous restaurant offers a wide range of different kinds of vegetarian dishes, from sandwiches and burgers to pasta, stir-fried dishes, soups, and many more. I'm sure you'll find something to eat here.


A dinner for two with non-alcoholic drinks, starters, and a main dish costs around 60 Peruvian Soles ($20). The portion sizes of their dishes are huge, plus the food is served quite quickly.


Surely, El Encuentro doesn't deserve a Michelin Star but it serves its purpose - offering quick and cheap vegetarian dishes.

Vegetarian Dishes in El Encuentro, Cusco

Korean Vegetarian Dishes at Sa Rang Che

After a while in Peru, you might crave something other than Peruvian food.


I got you! Somehow Cusco is a popular destination for Koreans. Subsequently, a few Korean restaurants are represented here, such as the restaurant called Sa Rang Che.


After the first week, I needed a change in my diet (enough rice, veggies, and beans 😅) and was excited when I found a Sa Rang Che that also offers Korean vegetarian dishes.


Sa Rang Che did not disappoint and was a welcoming change. I tried the kimchi stew, kimchi fried rice, kimbap, and some Korean glass noodles. All dishes were very tasty and I can recommend all of them.


❗️During my first visit to Sa Rang Che, I made the mistake of being too greedy. My boyfriend and I ordered three main dishes and didn't expect that some of them had side dishes included. We ended up having to take half of it as a takeaway.

Korean Food in Cusco, Peru

Vegetarian-Friendly Peruvian Cuisine: Ofrenda Peruvian Organic Food

A newly opened restaurant that has, in the meantime, also changed its name (previously known as Yunkas). Nevertheless, it was, for me, the best place for trying out Peruvian dishes. It's not a restaurant specializing in offering vegetarian dishes only, but some of them are made vegetarian-friendly.


Thanks to the well-trained and friendly staff, all the typical Peruvian dishes were explained in detail to me. I tried their Tacu Tacu, a dish with rice, beans, protein, and grilled veggies, which was one of the best I've tried in Peru. I can also recommend having their delicious Quinotta (a risotto but made with quinoa instead of rice), which was well-seasoned.


The best thing about this restaurant is its promise that all used ingredients are organic and local.

Peruvian Quinotto


Italian Delights at Carpe Diem Cucina Italiana

A blog post from me about the best vegetarian/vegan eateries can't miss an Italian place.


An Italian always has something to offer for vegetarians (and sometimes for vegans). You can't go wrong with a tasty Pizza Margherita or Spaghetti with Pesto. It is somehow my personal mission to find the best Italian in every place I visit.


Cusco was a challenging place, with many restaurants offering Italian-ish food but were disappointing. They used Andean cheese, made pizzas with a strange-smelling dough, and were somehow not authentic Italian. Maybe I'm just a picky Italian eater, but so it is.


During the last few days, I'd finally found my favorite Italian in Cusco: Carpe Diem Cucina Italiana.


At Carpe Diem, the pizzas are made traditionally in a stone oven, the pasta is handmade, and the sauces are rich in taste. For me, definitely the best Italian in town and popular among tourists, since it was often fully booked during dinner time.


The restaurant is not for travelers with a tight budget, since Carpe Diem is in the higher price segment. A Pizza Margherita costs 37 Peruvian Soles, which is almost $10. Nevertheless, if you'd like to indulge in authentic Italian food, Carpe Diem is your place.


🤫 If you visit Carpe Diem, try out their Tiramisu! It'll be prepared right in front of you and is outstandingly delicious.


Qura: A Colorful Destination for Vegetarian and Vegan Dining

As an aspiring nutritionist, I believe in eating as varied as possible and seeing a bowl full of color on a restaurant's menu excites me every time. Qura's menu served colorful bowls and many other colorful vegetarian and vegan dishes. The variety of the menu makes Qura the perfect spot for brunch, lunch, and a light dinner.


Besides their different bowls, I highly recommend having the Acai Granola Bowl. The base of the Acai Bowl had the perfect consistency, accompanied by delicious Andean granola and fresh fruits - just delicious.

Qura is also a nice place to spend two hours working on your laptop. The internet is decent, the coffee is good, and the open space is very welcoming for creative and productive hours.


A Vegan Heaven and Culinary Paradise in Cusco: Green Point Vegan Restaurant

Lastly, I'd like to share my favorite restaurant in Cusco and one of the best restaurant experiences I've ever experienced in my whole life!


Green Point is a fully vegan restaurant offering a wide variety of dishes, from Peruvian specialties to different kinds of soup, Pad Thai, and delicious pastries for dessert - Green Point won't disappoint you in any way.


Besides the delicious (and vegan!) food, the attention to detail and the hospitality from the staff are outstanding. From the first contact point, you'll get the feeling of being a highly respected guest.

The many reasons to visit this restaurant don't stop here. Additionally, Green Point has its own beer brewery and offers homemade kombucha 👉🏽 If you're struggling between tastes, ask for a tasting.

If you're convinced to visit this place, I highly recommend two dishes:

  • For those who'd like to eat Peruvian: Lomo Saltado - a stir-fry dish with strips of soy meat, onions, tomatoes, and various spices. It is served with rice and french fries and is popular among Peruvians.

  • For those who are hungry: The Burrito - it is filled with veggies, rice, beans, and a drizzle of their homemade spicy sauce.


Conclusion

As you figured, following a vegetarian diet won't be a problem in Cusco. Even restaurants that aren't labeled as vegetarian offer vegetarian dishes, and there are even a few vegan places.


The perfect example of how a place has adjusted to a Western animal-friendly diet thanks to tourism. It makes locals aware of their meat consumption and they may be open to trying out their traditional food in a vegetarian way.


By the way, I've created a list on Google Maps about all the places I've eaten in. Check it out here:


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