Virgilio Martínez (pictured) and Pía León
Chaco Clay and Powder of the Altiplano
Ca. Santa Isabel 376, Miraflores, Lima
+51 1 242 8515
Chief reason to visit: With three years as Latin America’s Best Restaurant and three in the top five of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Central has become one of the must-visit destinations for food travellers in the whole of Latin America. It’s all down to chef Virgílio Martínez and his wife Pía León’s unique menu celebrating the diversity of Peru.
On the menu: From 25 metres below sea level to 4,200 metres above, Central’s menu takes diners on a tasting adventure through desert plants, rock molluscs, sea creatures and medicinal plant dyes. It’s a treat for the taste buds and a colourful delight for the eyes. Highlights include ‘Colors of Amazonia’ and ‘Land of Corn.’
A few words on the chef: Martínez trained in kitchens in London, New York, Bogotá and Madrid before opening Central in 2009. He runs the restaurant with his wife, Pía León, who is in charge of the kitchen. Together with his sister Malena Martínez, the chef explores and researches Peruvian produce through their Mater Iniciativa project, helping to find new ingredients for Central’s menus.
What’s next? Aside from his restaurants Lima and Lima Floral in London, this year Martínez opens Mil, a restaurant in the Peruvian Andes near Cuzco where adventurous diners will be able to try dishes and products from the surrounding area, some of which will be cooked in the ground beneath them. He and León are also moving Central to new premises in Lima’s arty Barranco district, where León will also have her own, more casual restaurant, Kjolle.
Images: César Del Río; portrait: Jimena Agois