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The 5 best markets in Cusco: a unique gastronomic experience

The 5 best markets in Cusco: a unique gastronomic experience

I will begin this culinary journey with a question: Have you ever wondered where you can find the true flavors of Cusco? Well, look no further. An extraordinary gastronomic experience awaits you at the vibrant and authentic local markets. But which are the best markets in Cusco to visit? Be sure to keep reading until the end to discover them.

Mercado Central de San Pedro

Undoubtedly, the Mercado Central de San Pedro is one of the most famous and popular markets in Cusco. Here, you can taste a wide variety of local dishes. From crispy empanadas to caldo de gallina (chicken broth), each food stall is a journey through Cusco’s culinary culture.

Opening Hours: 7 am – 6 pm

Location: Thupaq Amaru 477, Cusco 08002

Mercado de Cascaparo

Don’t be fooled by its modest size. The Mercado de Cascaparo is an authentic hidden treasure in Cusco. Fresh fruits and natural juices take center stage, but the street food stalls also offer delicious dishes that you must try.

Opening Hours: 4 am – 9 pm

Location: Cascaparo Chico 700, Cusco 08002

Mercado de San Blas

Located in the heart of Cusco’s bohemian neighborhood, the Mercado de San Blas is the perfect place to immerse yourself in local life. Here, traditional flavors blend with culinary innovations, creating a unique gastronomic experience.

Opening Hours: 6 am – 4 pm

Location: Calle Pumapaccha 231, Cusco 08003

Mercado de Ttio

The Mercado de Ttio is known for its high-quality meats. Whether you’re looking for a good cut of alpaca or cuy (guinea pig), this market has everything you need for an authentic Andean barbecue.

Opening Hours: 6:30 am – 5 pm

Location: Mercado de Ttio, F29Q+CVW, Cusco 08002

Mercado de Wanchaq

Last but not least, the Mercado de Wanchaq is a delight for lovers of fusion cuisine. Here, you can find stalls offering local dishes with a modern twist, such as cuy pizza or fried trout.

Opening Hours: 5 am – 7 pm

Location: Av. Huascar, Cusco 08002

Why visit Cusco’s local markets?

Visiting Cusco’s local markets is not only an opportunity to taste local food but also to experience the culture and traditions of this ancient city. Each market has its own personality and charm, and is an essential part of the travel experience in Cusco. Here are some of the dishes you can enjoy:

  • Ceviche de Trucha: Ceviche is a flagship Peruvian dish, usually made with fresh fish. In Cusco, due to the abundance of trout in local rivers, ceviche is often prepared with this fish.
  • Cuy al Horno: Cuy, or guinea pig, is a very popular dish in the Peruvian Andes. It is usually served whole and roasted, known for its tender meat and distinctive flavor.
  • Chiriuchu: This is a traditional dish of Cusco served during the Corpus Christi festival. Chiriuchu includes a variety of meats such as chicken, cuy, alpaca charqui (dried meat), and pork, as well as seaweed, corn, and fresh cheese.
  • Rocoto Relleno: This dish, originally from Arequipa but also popular in Cusco, consists of a rocoto (spicy pepper) stuffed with minced meat, cheese, eggs, and olives.
  • Anticuchos: These are skewers of beef heart marinated in garlic, cumin, and ají panca (a type of chili). They are grilled and served with potatoes and a spicy sauce.
  • Lechón al Horno: Lechón al horno is another popular dish in Cusco. The pig is marinated in a mixture of spices and beer before being roasted until it has a crispy skin and juicy meat.
  • Tamales cusqueños: These tamales are made with corn and can be filled with pork or chicken. They are wrapped in corn husks and then steamed.
  • Adobo de Chancho: A tasty and comforting dish consisting of pork marinated in chicha (a fermented corn beer), ají, cumin, and other spices, and then slow-cooked until tender.
  • Empanadas: Empanadas in Cusco can be filled with a variety of ingredients, from meat and chicken to cheese and vegetables.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to eat at the markets?

In general, yes, it is safe to eat at the markets. Food stalls typically have high cleanliness standards. However, it is always advisable to observe food handling practices and choose stalls that appear clean and well-maintained.

Can I find vegetarian/vegan options at the markets?

Yes, although Peruvian cuisine is known for its meat dishes, the markets also offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan options, including fresh salads, fruit juices, quinoa, and other Andean grains.

Do markets in Cusco accept credit cards?

While some shops may accept credit cards, most stalls in the markets operate on a cash-only basis. Be sure to carry enough local currency in cash.

Do the vendors speak English?

While some vendors may speak a little English, most of them will likely only speak Spanish and Quechua. Learning some basic phrases in Spanish can be helpful.

What should I bring when visiting the markets?

It is advisable to bring cash, water, sunscreen, a bag for your purchases, and possibly a hat or umbrella to protect yourself from the sun.

Are the markets open every day?

Most markets in Cusco are open every day of the week, although some may have reduced hours or be closed on certain holidays.


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