Lima can be a heartless city; big, brash and hazy. The epitome of this brash urbanism is the site of Huaca Huallamarca, an ancient pyramid surrounded by the high rise buildings of the sprawl of Lima city. But being the commericial centre of Peru, the abundant mining wealth has resulted in patches of upscale metropolis that stands in stark contrast to the UNESCO Heritage listed architecture of Old Town and the ramshackle pueblos jóvenes (translated to ‘young towns’) that ascends the mountainous outskirts of Lima, providing shanty housing for the nation’s poorest. It’s difficult to fathom how such an incredible contrast in economic and social sphere can coexist, but Lima’s embrace for modernistic progress results in a remarkable confidence in the city’s cuisine. So confident is Lima that it declares itself the gastronomical capital of the entire South American continent. Pair this up with the country’s social lack of clarity over its incredible cultural diversity and you get a fascinating experimental fusion that’s attracting the attention of the chefs and critics around the world. I have previously written about Pescado Capitales, a Peruvian ceviche restaurant run by Vietnamese owners.
Anyway, all this talk of hyper fusionistic cuisine lends itself to high end dining. A much simpler and very satisfying exemplar of this exciting culinary direction is found in La Lucha. It is simple, it’s a sandwich bar. It is typically Peruvian, with an exciting twist of Creole flavours and an American diner service mannerism. The sandwiches served on wonderfully thick rolls, with lovely meaty fillings (sorry vegetarians) and a brilliant range of homemade sauces. The droolworthy fillings include chicharron (pork crackling cooked in chicha), lechon (suckling pig), jamon del pais (ham with Creole sauce), chorizo (Spanish style sausage), pavo (turkey), asado de res (roast beef) to name a few of the choices.
The meats are so beautifully tender, slow roasted to achieve a sophisticated smokiness. The fats on the meat just melt away on each bite. Every single sandwich was spectacular – and I made sure I tried as many of them as physically possible – my favourite a difficult choice with the turkey sandwich just having the edge. Simplicity is the key to La Lucha, with nothing to obstruct the sheer pleasure of an expert asado. All come optionally topped with a pickled red onion salad, the tanginess a dream combination with the salty meats. On top of that La Lucha do a pretty mean burger and of course some great thick cut fries (papas fritas) – Peru is the home of the potato after all. Be sure to request a selection of condiments to accompany your meal, although not figuring out what they are called in Spanish resulted in me just asking to try all of them.
If the massive fiesta of bread and meat is clogging up your arteries, you can balance it out with La Lucha’s delicious freshly squeezed juice or continue the indulging with a milkshake. La Lucha is open from morning and well into the evening. Huge ovens continually slow roast their meats and the place is just pumping throughout its opening hours. La Lucha has tables and chairs, or takeaway is easy with Parque Kennedy across the street as a nice outdoor setting for munchies and people watching. In true South American style, the ordering system makes no sense and can be slow especially with the tantalising aromas and anticipation of deliciousness. But, you’ll figure it out and you will be back for more.
Info: Av. Diagonal 308, Parque Kennedy, Miraflores, Lima
How much money to bring: USD$3-$12 (7-30 soles)
OK to bring a date? ok for a casual lunch date or quick pre-eats to a night out!
It’s closed on: open 7 days a week, 8am-1am, till 3am Fri-Sat
Don’t: have to stray far for accomodation, there’s an excellent Flying Dog hostel right next door.
Do: try to break your big money notes here, as it is one of the few places that accepts large bills without hassle.
Sounds like: Esa Nena Nunco Regreso – Davilla 666