Tag Archives: Cusco

8 Best Restaurants in Cusco + What to Eat

Hot Chocolate in Cusco

Cusco, Peru’s scenic city, is a hub for travellers and holiday-makers alike. Many spend at least two days in Cusco, acclimatising for trips and treks to to Machu Picchu. We (Gemma and Craig) actually lived in Cusco for two weeks; bouncing between accommodation, improving on our survival Spanish at San Blas Spanish school and hiking in the Sacred Valley. It rained every day during that fortnight which forced us indoors, experiencing the best restaurants in Cusco. So here’s where and what to eat in the city surrounded by the Andes Mountain Range.

Best restaurants in Cusco

Pachapapa Cusco

Pachapapa is part of the Cusco Restaurants chain (which also include Greens Organic) but don’t let that put you off. The traditional menu includes soups (Peru does really great soups, I particularly love the use of quinoa), mains featuring Peruvian alpaca, ceviche (raw fish cooked by lemon acids, yum) and more familiar dishes such as calzones. The chef often cooks by the BBQ and guess what you can see sizzling, guinea pig! Yes, Pachapapa has cuy on the menu. It is far pricey than other places to eat in Cusco so reserve for a special occasion. The atmosphere is pleasant, there’s a wood burning fire for the pizzas and a courtyard for nice days.

Address: Plazoleta San Blas 120
Reserve online: website

Jack’s Cafe, Cusco

Jack’s Cafe is a popular hangout for travellers. Expect to see queues at the door of this San Blas restaurant. However, waiting staff deal with this popularity effectively, taking orders from the queue to ensure a quick turnaround. The food is decent and the menu offers lots of home comforts and all-day breakfasts. Our travelling friend, Simon, had the French toast four times in one week (I don’t even think I’m exaggerating here!) We went twice; I had a chorizo and salad sandwich and Craig had a cheeseburger. The second time I went for the French toast and Craig had… a cheeseburger again (and a milkshake). All plates come in at s/ 10 – 26. They have a shelf stacked with British/American magazines too, nice touch. If wondering where to eat in Cusco after a few too many piscos the night before, this is our top restaurant recommendation.

Jacks Cafe Cusco

Address: Choquechaka 509, Cusco, Peru
Contact: +51 84 254606

La Bo’M

I love this crêperie. Sara, the French owner, was travelling around Peru and fell in love with Cusco. She wanted to bring some of France to the small city in the form of delicious sweet and savoury crepes. My weapon of choice is the Nutella with mango (sweet tooth, 18 soles!) The La Boheme tea is also very tasty. The cafe is kitted out with very cool decor, which compliments the San Blas area where it’s situated. We managed to download two episodes of Game of Thrones from Dropbox (our kind friend hooked us up) via their WiFi. Happy campers!

La Bom breakfast in Cusco

Address: Carmen Alto, Cusco, Peru

Pantastico

Cusco’s bakery cafe come bed and breakfast is renowned for its pan (bread) across its three locations. I had heard the WiFi was magic here but I was disappointed. However, the banana bread did not let me down. It had chunks of chocolate throughout which was a nice touch to an often dry snack. You’ll find this Pantastico tucked away behind the Plaza de San Blas. Can you see a theme here? We love this area.San Blas Cusco

Address: Calle Tandapata 1024, Cusco, Peru
Contact: wesbite

Cusco restaurants: Vegan options at Green Organic

Vegan restaurants in Cusco are not as hard to find as they used to be. Greens Organic is a bright and airy cafe/restaurant surrounded by the wood decor. Keeping with the natural vibes, all sourced food is naturally grown where possible. The menu consists of salads, soups, smoothies (s/12) and main courses of curries, gnocchi (s/36) and meat dishes such as the tradition alpaca (s/36). Glutton free options are available too. Note: wine is offered by the bottle but organically grown grapes are used. Cocktails are also available. One of the recommended restaurants in Cusco’s square (or close enough for it not to be too much of a tourist trap!)

Address: Santa Catalina Angosta, 135 at Plaza de Armas – good for people watching!
Reserve: website

 Calle del Medio

If you are seeking a great people watching spot, look no further than Calle del Medio which overlooks Plaza de Armas. Grab a bite to eat or a coffee and check out locals going about their daily business and tour guides assembly for daily walks.

Calle del Medio Cusco

Address: Calle del Medio 113, Plaza de Armas.

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Kokopelli

Sticking with the ‘home comforts’ theme, the hostel Kokopelli has a variety of food on offer. One hungover afternoon, I went for the chicken soup which is advertised as a lifesaver, and that it was. They also have happy hour, like most bars in Cusco. And the nice company, not like every bar in Cusco.

Address: San Andrés 260, Cusco, Peru

Korma Sutra

This Indian restaurant has high ratings on Tripadvisor and rightfully so. To Craig’s disbelief, Peruvian food is not that spicy and he needed to scratch that chilli itch. For 111 soles / £23.50 we dined on taco style crisps, the restaurant’s equivalent to poppadoms, a chicken tikka masala, jalfrezi, boiled rice and two naan bread. We both washed the curry down with a bottle of Cusquena and I couldn’t resist the Cuba Libre (fuerte, phew!)

Indian restaurant in Cusco

Address: Tandapata 909, San Blas

Set soles ‘turístico’ menus

Many restaurants around the streets of Cusco advertise a set menu. They usually come in at 10 to 20 soles. Our Spanish tutor proclaimed that this was caro (expensive) and said he would only dine for 4 soles. We never saw any menus that cheap, even in the cheaper area of Cusco during our homestay while learning Spanish! These set menus usually begin with a type of soup and a main. We often went for grilled chicken and vegetables for the main. The restaurant next to Jack’s was simple, decent and clean – the vegetable soup was good for the soul. The more expensive menus include alpaca in the mains if you are looking for a more authentic experience. However, don’t expect cuy (guinea pig) in the package; it’s actually pretty expensive for so little meat.

Cheap eats in Cusco

Address: All over Cusco (recommend the restaurant next to Jack’s on Choquechaka, Cusco, Peru)

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And the best coffee goes to…. a cafe we don’t know the name of! You’ll find it on Recoleta Street next door to Let’s Go Bananas. Blink and you will miss it! However, Craig, the coffee drinker, makes the decision with haste as it may be because he hasn’t had a decent cup of coffee since Austin, Texas. I hope you enjoy the food in Cusco as much as we did and do let us know in the comments below if we’ve missed anywhere.

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Restaurants in Cusco Peru

Where did you dine in Cusco? Ask any questions in the comments below.

Cultural Immersion: Our Homestay Peru Review

Cultural Immersion Homestay Peru

During our travels around South America, Craig and I (Gemma) decided enough was enough; we had to learn survival Spanish. Cultural immersion is the best way to learn a language because you are forced to put the textbook into action and you get to experience what life is really like for citizens who speak that language. Most homestay families in the likes of Peru will not speak your native tongue, pushing you out of your comfort zone or relying on a long game of charades! We carried out two homestays in Peru – our first in Cusco was combined with a week a San Blas Spanish School and the second on Taquile Island near Puno where locals mainly speak Puno Quechuan!

What is cultural immersion?

Cultural immersion involves moving into a new culture to study, work or learn a new language. The new arrival settles into a city, town or village and interacts with locals socially and at work and is open to getting to know their way of life. Homestay programmes can offer people the chance to do this because new arrivals live with families, help out with chores and interact socially with them. Although some homestay experiences are short (like ours) they are still better than school-led language courses or self-taught apps because the recipient is forced to use the language at all times so it reinforces their classroom learning.

Homestay family Peru

Why we chose homestay Peru

Craig and I quickly discovered that we were the only couple who could not speak Spanish during our Colca Canyon trek in Peru (if you are going to Peru, do this trek – it is lush!) We chose the small Peruvian city of Cusco as our school destination as we were about to embark on another two months of backpacking around Bolivia, Colombia and Cuba. We did try to learn Spanish before we left Scotland on our 17-month career break to travel the Americas and Europe, however, our teacher was malo and working full time then going home to play on the Johnny Spanish app clearly did not cut it. Our survival Spanish was not helping us survive. The weather was perfect for a one-week school programme at San Blas Spanish School in the bohemian area of the city because it was rained every day – great for forcing us to do our homework (while eating pancakes, check out our Cusco food guide). As part of the Spanish programme we lived with an older lady called Doris, Doris could not speak English!

Our second homestay on Taquile Island was different. This island is silent, there are no cars or TVs! Families predominantly speak the Puno Quechuan language, only our homestay dad and son could speak Spanish. However, we could still communicate with the mum through smiles and gestures. This homestay family was different because they had an eight-year-old kid called Winfredo, the family worked on the land and were accustomed to rural life in contrast to Doris who lived alone just outside of Cusco’s main area. The Taquile homestay was organised through Inka’s Rest Hostel for 85 soles/£19 each.

Mi Casa Su Casa

During our homestay in Cusco, we shacked up in a three bedroom apartment in the Wanchaq area of Cusco. It’s only a 15-minute walk from the San Blas area of Cusco yet is massively cheaper than Cusco central (Inka Kola for 50 centimos, six pan rolls for 1 soles). A plus to those taking a budget backpacking trip around South America.

The homestay provides three meals each day (desayuno, a grande almuerzo, and cena at 8pm) as well as Spanish conversation and help with our tarea (homework). Breakfast consists of the traditional pan bread rolls with dulce con leche (the Peruvian Nutella but toffee flavoured!), fruit and tea/coffee. The large lunch always starts with homemade soup (yo extraño la soupa de Doris!) and a main meal such as meat with rice and vegetable or an omelette and vegetables. At dinner, Peruvians dine lighter to help the digestive system fight the altitude. Dinner is usually soup or leftover lunch and a sweet dessert.

Doris’s dinner table ramblings really pushed us with our Spanish. We’d sit with our books from school and the handy phrasebook at hand to engage in conversation about our families, Scotland, and school.

On the Saturday we visited the authentic food market next to her house. Our Sunday morning stroll through the town was interesting. Keen to check out the local talent we popped into a bar ‘local’ at 11am. We definitely received the ‘you’re not local’ deadeye but within ten minutes, old men were blowing me kisses and Craig was throwing shapes on the dance floor with his new ‘novia’ (50-year-old girlfriend with no teeth!) This is why homestays are worth it!

Cusco local people

Homestay fees

Naturally, the cost of homestays depend on the destination, timeframe and expectations put on the family. The price of our Cusco homestay is 365.00 soles per week/£82 (five nights so £16 per night for two with three meals, muy econimico!)

Homestay family Peru

Homestay rules

Rules will be set out by the company organising the homestay and between the family and visitor. The following should be considered:

  • Access to house keys
  • Meal times
  • Smoking
  • Electricity use like Aircon, WiFi etc
  • Shoes on/off policy
  • Quiet time
  • Socialising
  • Privacy
  • Security
  • Use of kitchen facilities
  • Laundry

Final thoughts

The success of the homestay experience will be down to how positively you utilise your time during it and how well you gel with the host family. Personally, I enjoyed taking part in responsible travel in Peru; we do like to socialise but partying in a hostel every night is not the reason we travel. Our only concern was that I am one of those rare coriander haters (tastes like perfume) and Craig is a really fussy eater but we managed to work around this thanks to our survival Spanish, the main reason we wanted to experience a Peruvian homestay.

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Peru homestay

Have you stayed with a local?
Tell me in the comments below

Cusco Hostels: Review of the 5 Best Hostels in Cusco

Cusco hostels Peru

Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu hikes in Peru but also home to Spanish schools, a market, the planetarium, chilled out cafes, nice eateries but with over 100 hostels in Cusco how do you choose? Here are our best Cusco hostels guide from the party magnet to shut-eye central, dorms to private rooms. Why trust us? We stayed in Peru’s small city feel, Cusco for a month; hopping about hostels in between hikes and homestays.

Cusco Hostels

Kokopelli

I love Cusco’s Kokopelli hostel. If you are looking for an electric vibe in the touristy area then this is The One. Kokopelli is a chain of hostels, they also offer accommodation in Lima, Paracas and Mancora (both Paracas and Mancora have swimming pools) so we were keen to try one out.

The hostel offers 10, 8, 6, 4 and 3 bunk dorms; private rooms and uniquely an 8-bed ‘pod’ room (room 105).

It really caters for all budgets and dorms can be found for under £10.

For our first night, we stayed in the 10-bed dorm with a private bathroom and a door which directly opens on to the garden. Cute.

Each bed has a wooden box ‘locker’ big enough to store your backpack for safety.

The usual issues come with a large dorm, there is always someone sleeping but that’s the price you pay for not going private.

Nights two and three were spent in the unusual ‘pod’ rooms.

The beds in the room each have a curtain to shut out the world. It felt very private.

Each bed has a cupboard and storage space with plugs. It also had a private bathroom AND WiFi for occupants of that room only.

There are a variety of casual social areas with bean bags as well as a TV room and a bar which serves food.

Typical Peruvian breakfast (pan and marmelada) is included and is served at the bar. The WiFi was at its best at the bar during the morning hours.

The clientele are cool, met some very sound travellers here.

  • Pros: Aesthetically pleasing; bar with decent food; the pods
  • Cons: We were really craving a bit of fruit for breakfast by this point but the bread/jam combo is pretty standard. No kitchen for those hoping to cook

Kokopelli - Where to stay in Cusco

Check rates and availability: Kokopelli Cusco
Price: Dorms under $11/£8, privates under $53/£40
Address: Calle San Andres 260

Wild Rover Cusco

The notorious party hostel, Wild Rover, has had a facelift and is now proudly located in a multi-million dollar purpose-built premises with dorms, privates, games rooms, and most importantly – that view, that balcony.

Believe me, getting high in Cusco is worth it for the Andean landscape views.

We have a secret though, Wild Rover is not the only hostel to have these sights, keep reading to find a quiet alternative with great views of the city.

Prices include free linen (not a given), locker and access to WiFi.

Food is available, Irish bar now with soundproofing. 

  • Pros: new built, linen, social, views
  • Cons: it is a party hostel so…
Check availability and reserve: Wild Rover
Dorms under $8/£6, privates under $54/£41
Address: Cuesta de Sta. Ana 782

Loki Hostel

Another chain party hostel (you will stay in one at least once during your time in South America!) Loki Hostel has an extensive happy hour and even happier customers.

Honestly, this hostel in Cusco sells out fast.

The bar allows for a tab which is either genius or dangerous depending on your spending habits. Rooms away from the bar are quiet.

Beds are comfy and some have a personal outlet for phone charging. Lucky dwellers get rooms with views of Plaza de Armas.

Food is less than to be desired but very close to the San Blas area which has lots of choices.

  • Pros: Location, party hostel
  • Cons: Food, can be loud

San Blas Cusco

Check availability and reserve (sells out quick): Loki Hostel
Dorms under $11/£9, privates under $40/£31
Address: Cuesta de Sta. Ana 601

Casa de la Gringa

If you are in Cusco for more than one night we highly recommend skipping over to the bohemian San Blas area which has cute shops, eateries and is less commercial (food in the markets is cheaper) than the other side of Plaza de Armas.

Casa de la Gringa fits in with this laid back and loving vibe.

The hostel is beautifully decorated and we were thankful for our ‘matrimonial’ verde (green) bedroom after hiking the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu.

The owners Mark and Simon, South Africans with Scottish ancestry, (we didn’t get the chance to meet their Mum) are very cool and offer sound advice and service to anyone looking to experience the San Pedro plant.

Breakfast is refreshing. The staff offer you a fruit salad with yoghurt or scrambled egg with the usual bread. There is a kitchen for those on a budget.

Like Kokopelli, tea and coffee are free all day. The shower is always hot and the company eclectic.

  • Pros: Looks cool breakfast, the area, area wise – this is where to stay in Cusco for a less touristy scene
  • Cons: Not a party hostel if that is what you are after, we met lots of couples there

Casa de la Gringa Best hostels in Cusco

Rooms start at under £$32/£25 for a private double
Check availability and reserve: Casa de la Gringa
Address: Cusco 08000

Thomas Grill and Garden

Thomas Grill and Garden is in the sweet spot of San Blas, right next to my favourite street, Calle Carmen Alto. It’s clean, has the hottest shower so far but the real gem is the receptionist/chef/ gardener/all-rounder, Jenny!

The hostel has two social areas and a nice garden with tables and chairs.

This was ideal for airing out my smoky clothes after a night of debauchery at the Mythology club! No such thing as the smoking ban in Cusco. 

There are a variety of rooms, some with shared and others with private bathrooms.

Initially, we were housed in a matrimonial room with a private bathroom and TV but decided to stay longer as we were enjoying the peace. Jenny put us in the ‘double mountain view’ room and a view it sure had.

You get a key for the front door so feels more like an apartment with breakfast than a hostel.

This is one of the best hostels in Cusco for WiFi in my experience; a blogger’s dream.

This room is really cute, it has a campervan feeling and you can’t beat waking up to the best views of Cusco. The room is cold at night (Cusco is frío in the evenings) but we were given a heater to take the edge off.

Breakfast is varied. Some days we had bread with butter/jam and fruit, others we had (bread and) cereal and yoghurt.

There is a decent-sized kitchen for those wishing to cook.

  • Pros: The staff; hot water; superfast WiFi; the view from our room
  • Cons: Again, not a party hostel if that is your bag, we met even more couples but there was one solo guest kicking about

Andean Mountains from Thomas Grill hostels in Cusco Peru

Check availability and book: Thomas Grill – Garden
Privates start from just under $32/£25
Address: Atoqsaycuchi 281 -a San Blas

Final Words

Cusco really is a cool city to spend a few days or couple of weeks in hence why we went bed-hopping, Goldilocks style in the city!

Whether you are looking for a party or some much-needed downtime there is a bed (or pod!) for everyone in Cusco.

Things to do in Cusco

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Cusco hostels | Hostels in Cusco

 

There are hundreds of hostels, hotels and apartments in pequño (small) Cusco.
Leave any questions in the comments below.

 

Alternatively, click here to see all 100 Cusco hostels 

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