El Mercado is located in an industrial area in Miraflores on Hipólito Unanue 203, where you would never expect to find a trendy, upscale restaurant. It’s located on a nondescript street, with no easily visible sign out front, and in a nontouristy area. It has an attractive, Limeños crowd, stellar food, creative dishes, and an indoor/outdoor setting, with lots of greenery. This hot spot makes perfect sense when you realize it is the brainchild of one of Lima’s leading chefs, Raphael Osterling. Here he puts new spins on traditional recipes, using local producers, fishermen and farmers. And the results made for a delightful and delicious surprise.
The restaurant is casual, welcoming, and vibrant, in an open-air environment – a canopy covered patio with concrete floors, rattan-backed chairs, plenty of plants and sexy music and birds chirping in the background.
This is the place to go for a power lunch, where you actually see people in suits, an unusual sight for such a casual city. The menu is large, with so many enticing choices. So we started to check out the selections with the help of a traditional and a passion fruit pisco sours. They bring homemade vegetable chips and dips to your table. If they weren’t so excellent, I would be bitter about being charged for something I didn’t actually order.
Everything we had was fabulous, and so fresh tasting. You see, the restaurant is only open for lunch from 12-5, and this ensures the fish and produce are of the freshest caliber, delivered daily. The ceviches are first rate and I had the best octopus and scallop dish that I have ever tasted.
If you don’t care for fish or seafood, there are rice and pasta options.
Even our dessert was drool-worthy. A chocolate tart, that oozed, flavorful Peruvian chocolate, the moment I cut into it.
I was pleasantly surprised just how delicious everything was. There is a reason this place has a buzz, and has people lining up and waiting to get in. Many say it is Lima’s top seafood restaurant, and who am I to argue, when I enjoyed my meal so much.