Being a world renowned hub for adventure travel activities such as Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, Cusco in Peru attracts countless tourists from all over the world. There’s a myriad of restaurants catering for the fly in fly out crowd sporting brand new Patagonia zip off trousers. But if you’re travelling longer term on a bit more of a budget, you have to search a little harder for good wholesome food. We dug deep and found the best cheap eats in Cusco where you can eat like a king and it won’t kill your wallet. Every restaurant on this list will set you back 15 soles or less ($6 USD) for a 2 course (or more) meal.
Here’s our top Seven Best Cheap Eats in Cusco.
1. Q’ori Sara, 290 Calle Garcilaso (Just off Plaza San Francisco) – Aimed squarely at the local clientele, this is a no frills restaurant that serves good food in big portions. The 10 soles ($3 US) menu of the day comes with a huge soup, generous main and some of the best chicha morada (Vimto-like corn drink) we’ve had.
When you’re hungry head here and you won’t be disappointed. Just off Plaza de San Francisco.
2. Organika, 410 Calle Resbalosa (Nr Plaza De Armas) – A bit of an expat/westerner institution there’s often queues to get in at lunchtime. Their salads are the most budget friendly option here 15 soles ($4.50 US). We had the trout and caper salad which was stacked high with greenery. However it was lacking a little in substance when it came to anything else. To drink we tried the refreshing zesty lemon and mint juice.
There’s also local delicacies like alpaca tenderloin and trout ceviche on the menu which both looked incredible. If I was to go again i’d definitely upgrade from the salad.
3. Los Apus, 1025 Calle Tanda Pata – Situated in the bohemian San Blas area, this upstairs restaurant has one of the best views across the city. For 15 soles you get a three course meal plus soft drink of your choice in a cool laid back setting. The food was generous and hearty even if the cheese and tomato starter was a bit random.
4. Green Point Vegan Food, 235 Calle Carman Bajo (San Blas) – Definitely our favourite restaurant in town, this place does a set lunch for 15 soles that cannot be beaten. We stacked a mountain of goodness at the help yourself salad bar before being served the most delicious Sopa de Calbaza (squash soup). For the main we had Guiso de Frejol con verduras (Bean stew with veg) which again was awesome.
If that wasn’t enough they brought us out a chocolate cake with strawberry sauce to top it off. The staff are super friendly and speak English while the restaurant itself is homely. Try to bag one of the big tables upstairs. Top Tip – get here before 2pm to ensure you’re in time for the exceptional lunch menu.
5. Restaurant Tabasco, 168 San Francisco Plaza – Great food, good location, bad service sums this place up in a nutshell. It took an age for the waitress to get off her phone and take our order, then an elongated aeon to bring out the food. However when it came it was pretty damn good. You have three food choices on a set menu here for 15 soles – Italian, Mexican or Peruvian.
Dubious at first, we went for the quinoa soup starter and burrito main which were both huge, filling and delicious. The banana split with choc sauce dessert was a little lacklustre but we were stuffed by that point anyway.
6. Andes Food, 392 Calle Procuradores (Just off Plaza De Armas) – Great little restaurant just off the Plaza de Armas that feels like it should be more expensive. However for 15 soles set menu you get 3 courses of great food in a comfortable setting.
If you’re feeling flush and opt for the 20 sole menu ($5.80 USD) you open up more menu choices plus the option to add a fiery pisco sour cocktail to your dinner. We came here twice and each time the food and service was fantastic.
7. Kusi, 115 Calle Choquechada (San Blas). We found Kusi after being chased up the street by an over enthusiastic hawker lady. Looking for a place to take refuge we came across this little gem upstairs above a sweet shop. Great food and service in a welcome tranquil setting away from the hustle and bustle below. We both had the quinoa soup to start, full of healthy chunky vegetables.
For the main course I had Aji de Gallina (chicken breast in a creamy spice soup) and Liz ordered Tortilla de Verdura (Veggie omelette). Both were delicious and filled us up a treat. Tip – Bag the balcony table and get a great bird’s eye view of the madness below. It cost us 10 soles each and we even had a posh chocolate arrive with the bill. As we descended the stairs to leave, the hawker lady was waiting patiently at the bottom and Liz (naturally) ended up buying her shiny wares.
Notes on even cheaper eating in Cusco:
It is, of course, very possible to eat for less. During our stay in Cusco we saw many restaurants, especially just out of the main tourist areas, with menu of the day options for under 10 soles. There were quite a few for 5 soles ($1.50USD) and several at a ridiculously cheap 3 soles (.90c USD). We tried a couple of these places but wouldn’t really recommend them due to basic hygiene issues which is why they haven’t been included in this list. However if you don’t mind the occasional overflowing sink and wandering stray dog, then you can eat extremely cheaply in Cusco. Have a look behind the San Pedro Market to find some of the more rudimentary establishments. Just remember to take your own hand sanitizer!
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