After first making his way to Argentina in 1999, Grant C. Dull aka El G made quite the transformation. From musicologist and online editor for WhatsUpBuenosAires.com, to visual event artist and then to curator and DJ, he and his Argentine partners co-founded ZZK Records and Zizek Club. El G brings us the new sounds of digital cumbia, electro-reggaeton and weird folklorico, peppering live sets with percussion and on-stage collaborations.
After a recent mammoth trip through Peru, we thought who better to share their tips for a guide to one of South America’s fasting growing destinations but El G. He lays out the Lima, Peru guide with the best spots to eat, drink, stay and what’s happening in the local music and art scene.
Scroll through and check out El G’s Guide to Lima, Peru
After being on tour for the greater part of 2013, I couldn’t have been happier to get back to Buenos Aires, where I lay my bones to rest and call home. But when the holidays started to loom, the travel bug was back. This time I’d do it the other way around, go for pleasure, straight up be a tourist, and pick up some gigs along the way. I’ve been living in Argentina for the greater part of the last decade, have lived in and/or visited most neighboring countries, but there was one that was eluding me – Peru.
I had always wanted to go, and we had just signed some Peruvian artists, Animal Chuki, so all indicators were it was the perfect time to go. Everybody couldn’t stop telling me how awesome it was and how much fun I would have. But I’ve been to Istanbul this year, hung out in New Orleans, spent a month in Portugal in the middle of the summer, I told them, yeah yeah, I know…awesome.
But they were right. Peruvian awesome was a whole new level of awesome. I’m a traveler. Been traveling (being an expat in a foreign land is just a long trip) for the greater part of the last 20 years. I love traveling. The essence of traveling comes down to this for me: The people. The culture. The food. The vibe. Peru I’m happy to say, kills it on all levels.
Instead of an enormous blog post talking about the 3 and a half weeks I spent traveling around Peru, I’m going to focus on the capital, Lima. Don’t get me wrong, if you ever get a chance to go, go everywhere. The jungle, Incan ruins, desert and sacred valley. Do the damn thing up. I did, and it was awesome.
The farther you get away from the capital the more you go back in time and tradition. But don’t skip Lima, as a matter of fact, if you like food, nightlife, arts and culture as much as I do, give yourself some time to do it right. Lima, with the right weather, neighborhood and some insider 411, and you’re good to go.
Let’s start with the food. I’d move to Lima for the food alone. As a matter of fact, how much did you say the rent was on that apartment in Miraflores? Peru is going through somewhat of a renaissance in food right now. The country has smartly rallied around it’s stellar food culture and started marketing the hell out of it, and rightly so.
A recent 50 best restaurants in Latin America list had Peruvian spots dominating the lineup and although I didn’t go to any of these joints (totally not necessary especially if you’re on a budget), I did try the Gaston Acurio run Tanta a couple times and everything was spot on, from the Lomo Saltado to the Fettucini a la Huacaina.
My first night had me getting in at midnight on a Tuesday and thankfully as we rolled up to the main plaza in Miraflores, the main neighborhood for newcomers, La Lucha was open and bright and in all it’s glory. Sandwiches you say, in Peru? Yes, hell yes. As is custom, I asked the kid behind the register what the best thing there was and ordered that (the lechon sandwich with a smattering of different sauces) and an order of perfectly done fries, which also came with a helping of sauces to choose from (don’t miss the black olive mayonnaise to dip ‘em in). Needless to say we went back to La Lucha often.
Other joints that made it to our culinary tour, because let’s face it, if I was on any kind of tour it was culinary, was a ceviche spot that used to be a hole in the wall (there was something about this mom and pop story that kept popping up in every banging establishment we went to) across the street from the city’s main football stadium thus frequented first by all the city’s best footballers and then a steady stream of politicians and movers and shakers. Eventually, after all it’s success El Veridico de Fidel moved to Miraflores, opened up a bright and well put together restaurant in what seemed to be an ex-warehouse, dotted the walls with enormous illustrations from the amazing local artist Cherman and every time we went it was rammed. The spot may be known for it’s ceviche but we were tipped to their leche de tigre which is essentially all the left over juices from the ceviche served up like a zesty fishy cocktail, but their version also came with large chunks of ceviche and was ridiculous.
Wash it down by a tuna sour which is made from a Peruvian fruit used since ancient times. Other places that also made our list were Pardo’s Chicken which serves up the famous Peruvian roasted chicken, the fish joint El Pez On (try the basket of fried fish (jalea) and the salmon and potatoes delight (causa), the before mentioned Tanta which along with having the Acurio name and fame behind it also serves up some serious Peruvian staples. For the sweet tooth moment the throwback ice cream parlor 4D serves up sundays and combinations that brought me back to my youth growing up in Texas.
The only bummer about the Lima culinary scene is that coming from Buenos Aires, we were used to late, late dinners, and that’s not really the style in Lima. Get there by 9 or 10 or expect to be turned away. We made Miraflores our hub, walking everywhere was a plus, sometimes past ancient Incan Huaca’s snuggled against modern lofts on quiet tree lined streets. San Isidro and Barranco were also frequented, both highly recommended, especially for strolls. Barranco’s stroll along the coastline was a highlight, as was San Isidro’s Olivar park, which was one of the nicest city parks I’ve seen in Latin America.
On the art tip we hit up an amazing show of Chris Dyer’s at the Centro Cultural Ricardo Palma. Chris is a Montreal based Peruvian artist who paints vision quest inspired art on everything from walls to skateboard decks.
We also stumbled upon some of Elliott Tupac’s and Ruta Mare’s murals at La Emolientaria which serves up herb induced local concoctions (we preferred original one on calle Manuel Bonilla 117, Miraflores).
Elliot recently opened a workshop/gallery close to downtown also worth checking out. We also hit up the gallery/concept stores Indigo in San Isidro, which had a pretty dope selection of prints and paintings, and Dedalo in Barranco which carried a lot of interesting jewelry, clothes, books and had a great patio café to chill at.
On the music tip, highly recommended to go check out some of the tropical bass/digital cumbia nights that seem to be sweeping the city right now. I mean why go half way across the world (to listen to eat, drink, etc) anything that isn’t local. Just sayin.
I got a chance to DJ at Bizarro which had a big club vibe but the crowd was into the new, which is always nice. I also hit up the Fiestas con CH which was at a new venue (the massive convention center in Barranco) that featured Dengue Dengue Dengue (who throw a great party called Toma!) and El Freaky, in town from Bogota. Other peeps to check out are the before mentioned Animal Chuki, Qechuaboi, Elegante y La Imperial, among others and of course go buy all that old amazing cumbia that’s getting rereleased right now on labels like Tiger’s Milk and Barbes for your Peruvian classics soundtrack.
If you decide to come during the summer months (good idea) head south to the Asia beaches which also feature an insane amount of nightlife and dining. On the way down or back don’t miss the lechon (slowly cooked pork) stops on the side of the road Doña Paulina being the most popular and the lucuma (another local fruit) ice cream stands that dot the highway, Ovni being the original. Street food taken to a whole other level.
Shout out to Veltrac Music and the clubs and bars that booked me to DJ there, make peeps dance and facilitate my Peruvian adventure!