The Historic Capital of Peru—Cusco—peeks out from behind the mountains as you fly in from Lima. The indigenous Quechuan name means Rock of the Owl. According to legend, an Incan brother turned into rock after marking possession of the land. Indeed, rocks mark the city. The breathtaking ancient Incan ruins, with impeccably aligned stones, seem to guard over the entire city. The stone-laid streets whispering to visitors, slow down, and soak in the ancient vibe still carried by the artisans and musicians. Food carts with their distinctly Peruvian flavour tease the senses. If that’s irresistible, then it’s impossible to ignore the aroma of the Cusconian coffee beans roasted to perfection. As you surrender to your senses, here are 8 quaint little cafes you won’t want to miss:
Panam Pasteleria Y Cafe | Portal Nuervo 232, Cusco, Peru
Tucked away just on the other side of Plaza de Armas, the smell of fresh bread is anything but hidden. Beautiful artwork lines the walls on one side, while baskets of flaky croissants and crisp ciabatta line the other. Their breakfast options and roast beef sandwiches are popular options.
To Sip: Cafe Capuccinodoble (double cappacino) – S/.10.00PEN/$3.50US
Something Sweet: Warm Chocolate Croissant – S/. 2.50PEN/$0.90US
Something Savoury: Toasted Triple Tricolor Ciabatta w/ avacado, egg, sliced tomato. S/.8.00PEN/$2.80US
La Valeriana | Avenida del Sol 576, Cusco, Peru
The charming white bicycle out front is just as charming as the interior decor and atmosphere. Located on Avenida el Sol and facing Qoricancha park, it’s the perfect place to pause, take in the scenery, and perhaps even people-watch. Their fruit smoothies and range of pastries will make for difficult decision making. For something substantial, try their vegetarian lasagne or quiche.
To Sip: Mango, Pineapple, Coconut, & Melon Smoothie – S/.10.00PEN/$3.50US
Something Sweet: Cream-Filled Rolampagos w/ Chocolate Glaze – S/.4.00PEN/$1.40US
Something Savoury: Crunchy Pork Sandwich w/ Creole Zanza Sauce – S/.13.00PEN/$4.60US
Cuscoffee | Calle Heladeros 167, Centro Historico, Cusco, Peru
Such a hidden little gem. But don’t let the humble appearance fool you. Passing by the counter and entering the spacious back room, you’ll wish you brought your favourite book. The comfy sofas and impressive modern decor create an incredibly relaxing atmosphere. You can even strum out your favourite melody on the guitar they’ve got. The Peruvian hot chocolate is highly recommended.
To Sip: Cafe Irlandės con Whisky (Irish Coffee) – S/.10.00 PEN/$3.50US
Something Sweet: Panqueques Miel De Abejas (Pancakes w/ Organic Honey) – S/.10.00PEN/$3.50US
Something Savoury: Panqueques con jamon, queso, pollo (Pancakes w/ ham, cheese, chicken) – S/.15PEN/$5.30US
San Pedro Panaderia Y Pasteleria | Calle Hospital, Cusco, Peru
Located just a short walk from bustling San Pedro Market, past Avenida Baja, this little cafe will make you feel like you’re at your grandmother’s house. They bake their breads in-house, so it’ll be difficult to leave if they’re just about to bring out a fresh batch. Be sure to try their selection of home-made cakes also.
To Sip: Cafe con Leche – S/.3.50PEN/$1.25US
Something Sweet: Chocolate Cups filled with Coffee Cream – S/.2.50PEN/$0.90US
Something Savoury: Chicken, Beef, or Cheese Empanadas – S/.2.50PEN/$0.90US
La Bondiet Pasteleria | Calle Heladeros 118, Cusco, Peru
The attentive staff deserve a mention at this modern French-style cafe. Their large glass cabinets are filled with tantalising cakes and desserts. The Lacuma ice-cream, made from the distinctly scented South American fruit never leaves people on the fence—you’ll either find it absolutely delightful, or unbearable.
To Sip: Cappuccino S/.6.00PEN/$2.15US
Something Sweet: Royal Cup Ice-Cream – S/.14.00PEN/$5.00US
Something Savoury: Swiss Chard Pie – S/.6.00PEN/$2.15US
Cafe Y Chocolate | Calle Espaderos 120, Cusco, Peru
Literally a hole in the wall, they’ve been able to nicely fit out this little cafe. Big comfy and colourful arm-chairs make for a vibrant setting. As the name suggests, there is a wide variety of chocolates and desserts. The place is almost always full—a good sign.
To Sip: Hot Nutella – S/.12.00PEN/$4.30US
Something Sweet: Waffles con Miel y Fudge o Dulce (Waffles w/ honey & fudge) – S/.9.00PEN/$3.20US
Something Savoury: Toasted Mozzarella Sandwich S/.16.00PEN/$5.70US
Cafe Perla | En La Plazoleta Santa Catalina 304 | Cusco, Peru
Situated nicely on the corner of a small plaza, you can’t miss the impressive coffee roaster perched behind the window. The aroma of their beans compliments the cooking that takes place in the open kitchen situated in the back. Their menu includes the traditional Peruvian ceviche, Rocoto Relleno (stuffed hot peppers), and Papa Rellena (stuffed potatoes).
To Sip: Mate de Coca (Coca Tea) – S/.3.00PEN/$1.05US
Something Sweet: Elderberry & Aguayment Cheesecake – S/.10.00PEN/$3.50US
Something Savoury: Alpaca a la Parilla (Grilled Alpaca) – S/.32.00PEN/$11.40US
Costumbres Cafe | Cnr. Portla del Carnes & Portal Belen | Cusco, Peru
Facing the famous Plaza de Armas, you’ll have to keep an eye out for this cafe as there isn’t much signage. Known for their ice-cream desserts and eclectic flair, the chefs have come up with dishes like Ribcage of pork served with sweet coffee sauce.
To Sip: Hot Chocolate Punch w/ Oats & Quinoa – S/.8.00PEN/$2.80US
Something Sweet: Banana Split w/ fresh fruits & Chantilly cream – S/.14.00PEN/$5.00US
Something Savoury: Fried Trout & Quinoa Aguaymanto – S/.30.00PEN/$10.75US