Restaurant Review: El Mercado in Miraflores, Lima, Peru

On my recent trip to Lima, Peru, I was really hankering after a good, traditional ceviche, and had read about this place prior to coming.  When I then discovered while dining at Rafael Osterling’s eponymous restaurant that this establishment was also his, I thought it would be nice to try a top chef’s take on this traditional Peruvian dish.

Of note, this restaurant also figures amongst South America’s top 50 dining establishments.

As it happens, I bumped into him again, all smiles, nods, and winks as if we shared a secret, and I had the pleasure of sitting right next to one of the kitchens and could watch the plating of these wonderful dishes by two women who worked with serenity and precision.  Professionals at play!

One of the things I noticed in this much busier restaurant, was what a well-oiled machine the kitchen was.  The sync up to service was impeccable…no dish waited after plating more than a few seconds before it was delivered to the diner.  It was like a dance…and although I had a waitress who was looking after me, many other waiters were involved in serving or clearing the dishes I ordered.  It was like a choreographed dance with an entire troop of performers.  The placed buzzed with energy, the tables were a curious mix of diners, all fashionable and chic and clearly with interesting stories to tell.

I did have a traditional ceviche, and truthfully, it would have been enough, but there were so many extremely delicious things to eat on the menu, that I ordered 3 other dishes because I couldn’t resist:

  • Chilled pan-seared scallop…really very good
  • Traditional fish ceviche was exceptional—perfectly prepared
  • Grilled fish…this was exceptional…worth the trip, and better than the one I had been served in his fanciest restaurant
  • Taco of sea urchin roe

I also had my only pisco sour, Peru’s national cocktail, of the entire trip.  It was worth it.  They definitely made it better than any I can ever remember having.  It was tart, frothy, ethereal—really just so good.  

I got lucky, walking in as I did—as there seemed to be many people waiting.  I’m telling you, it helps to wear a skirt!  I also had exceptional service.  The dining experience was top-notch.  I recommend this place without hesitation but be more organised than I was and be sure to book ahead.

El Mercado

Av. Hipólito Unanue 203, Miraflores 15074, Lima, Peru

Tel. +51 974 779 517

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