Backpackers’ Guide to Eats & Treats through South America

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For the second time, Fun Eats and Travels is featuring a post from a guest blogger. This time, we are very proud to collaborate with one of Sarah’s team ex-intern, the great Heather Harvey. Heather and Jon Corbett are a fun loving couple from California. Heather is currently the Marketing Manager for a Buffalo Wild Wings Franchise and Jon is a Product Developer specializing in the medical industry.
Just like us, Heather and Jon like to travel and eat! And they recently had the wonderful opportunity to spend three months backpacking through Peru & Chile. They have cataloged their experience on their blog

For Fun Eats and Travels, Heather and Jon wrote a fun ‘backpackers’ guide to eats and treats through South America! . Here’s their amazing foodie journey!

Whether you are on a week’s vacation or backpacking for many months, when it comes to eating out everyone wants to get the best bang for their buck. Here are a few of our favorite, budget conscious treats we found during our travels through Peru & Chile.

Cuzco, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru
We highly recommend visiting the San Pedro Market which is a short walk from Plaza de Armas. A cultural experience in itself, the market houses various stands ranging from local handcrafts to freshly slaughtered animals (we were fascinated by the donkey snouts, teeth and all). Our favorite area of the market was the freshly squeezed juice. Beware as you approach this area, the local women will begin shouting and waving their menus to get you to sit at their stand, something that certainly caught us off guard during our first visit. For about four soles ($1.50) we were each able to enjoy two glasses of freshly squeezed juice. 

Arequipa, Peru
Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru and can be best described as a smorgasbord of culinary offerings.  We highly recommend heading to Zig Zag across from Plaza San Francisco. Although the prices are a bit higher than other restaurants around, the food is well worth the splurge. Specializing in Alpandino dishes and cooking on Volcanic Stone, we guarantee that anything you order will be a delight to your taste-buds. The Antipasto alpandino is a magical dish full of flavorful cheeses and cured meats. We savored every single bite of this appetizer – which was big enough to be an entree. We also enjoyed the cheese fondue for two. Also commonly ordered is the trio de carne – a fantastic skillet of beef, alpaca & ostrich. Pair your meal with a great glass of wine and it is sure to be a feast you will not soon forget.

We also found an amazing chifa restaurant, located on Puente Bolognesi near the corner of the Plaza de Armas.  Budget travelers, this is theplace to visit to get the most for your money. The food is cooked in the front of the restaurant, allowing you to see how fresh the ingredients are.  Our favorite dishes included Wonton soup and the Aeropuerto- fried rice with French fries and chopped steak.  Make sure you grab a pitcher of Chicha, a Peruvian specialty made of purple corn and a variety of fruits.

Upon our arrival in Chile, we discovered that Churrascos (thinly-cut beef sandwich) and Completos (hot dogs slathered with mayo, mustard & guacamole) are staples in every corner shop. Definitely pick one up to enjoy while you are out and about.

Elqui Valley, Chile

Villa del Mar, Chile
The sun is always shinning in the Elqui Valley; we found one restaurant that takes advantage by using solar ovens.  The ovens are made up of many aluminum panels that reflect light into a double pained glass box. The oven gets so hot that you would burn yourself if you put your hand in it! Our three course meal started off with a classic baked carne (beef) empanada – which was filled with meat, onions, cheese and a surprise un-pitted olive. Next up were our entrees – a pork chop and the goat casserole (which ended up being a nice tender cut of meat), both were accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes.  For dessert we tried a traditional Chilean dish of “mote con huesillo,” a sweet clear nectar-like liquid made with dried peaches (huesillo) cooked in sugar, water and cinnamon. The liquid is cooled and then mixed with freshly cooked wheat (mote). The syrup was tasty but we were thrown off by the wheat in the dish. We were quite impressed that the entire, delicious meal was made in the solar ovens.

Valparaiso, Chile
Valparaiso was hands down one of our favorite cities to visit in Chile. Valparaiso is best described as a cross between San Francisco, CA and Santa Cruz, CA.  It has a hippy culture that would fit in perfectly with Santa Cruz and climbing up the windy streets reminded us of San Fran, except that you can cheat and take an ascensor (hillevator) up to the top. If you are in need of a sweet treat, we have the bakery for you!  We happened to stumble upon La Campezana, which offers the best bread and pastries. For less than $3 we bought a huge cookie and a custard filled pastry that were to die for. We wish we could find a way to get their treats to the U.S. to enjoy.

There are endless adventures and treats throughout South America and some of the best finds are just waiting to be discovered.

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