Cheap Eats in Cusco
Who wants to cook on vacation? Owning an airbnb we have had many people ask us if they can use our kitchen to cook. While we don’t mind at all we find that most people find the food so good and so inexpensive here in Cusco that they decide eating out is the best option. Almost any restaurant you go to will be considered affordable due to the fact that the Dollar and Euro are both 3:1 against the Nuevo Sol. However, beyond this there are places that are so inexpensive that you’ll be happy to go back again and again.
The first place we send people when they arrive is to Jack’s Café. Although they don't specialize in Peruvian food, we figure its best to eat light when you arrive due to the altitude and save the Peruvian food for when you’re feeling good and hungry. Jack’s has a very good variety on their menu and it's always nice to have a bit of comfort when you arrive. You are hit by a new culture, new language, and new heights so get some comfort food for your first meal. To top it off almost each plate is somewhere between 15-19 soles- for 5 bucks you can eat a great meal. Beware: the line is often out the door, although it is worth the wait. Located on the corner of Choquechaka and Cuesta de San Blas.
All vegan and all amazing. I am in no way vegan…nor vegetarian, however I find myself pulled to eat at Green Point at least once a week. The entire menu is all homemade with fresh, local produce. You know you're eating healthy when you eat here; you can feel it. Now here is the part you won’t understand: everyday for lunch at both locations you pay 10-12 soles for salad, soup, a main plate, a drink and dessert. I also just found out that the Plaza San Francisco location has a set dinner menu as well for 15 soles! Located in San Blas on Carmen Bajo and in Plaza San Francisco under the "Es Salud" sign.
By the way here is a good place to mention the difference between a “menu” and “la carta.” The menu is a set lunch or dinner. The restaurant usually picks one or two dishes that they cook in quantity so that it runs less expensive and is ready on demand. That is the “menu” here. It often comes with a soup, main plate, drink and dessrert. However, “la carta” is what we call the "menu" in the States. It's the various plates that you can choose at a higher cost than the menu since it must be prepared fresh and is bought in smaller amounts.
The Highest 100% Irish Owned Pub on the Planet
One thing I hear over and over is that the drinks in Cusco are quite expensive. In fact it is true. I often pay 20 soles for a single drink. That is about 6-7 USD. When you can get a whole meal for that price you wonder why the drinks are so expensive. I find Paddy’s Pub to have reasonably priced drinks and really reasonably priced (and delicious) plates from 15-19 soles. All their sandwiches are killer, the Shepherds pie is very filling and the salad is packed with veggies but also gives you enough carbs that you don’t go hungry. The atmosphere is that of an Irish Pub: laid back, comfortable and cozy.
Eat at a Local's Home
Alright, admittedly this is a little bit of self-promotion and it's not quite as cheap as the other options, but this is probably the coolest way to spend a bit and get a lot: lunch at a local's home. We started arranging meals at our friends' houses because so many of our guests expressed interest in homestays in Cusco, and it's a good way to support some of the families in the area. The cuisine is as authentic as it gets, cooked on small adobe stoves and inevitably including one of the 4,000 kinds of potatoes (literally) cultivated here. If you let us know in advance, you can try the local favorite cuy (guinea pig). You'll notice that this is one of the pricier options at restaurants as it's a local delicacy- and rightfully so, in my opinion!