The flavours of Peru and Venezuela combine on a plate


On the Pass

Juan Luis Martinez

What is it about? Combining the surrounding produce with flashes and memories of his country of origin, chef Juan Luis Martínez unites the cuisines of Venezuela and Peru at Mérito.

What to order: Try the yuca root quesadilla filled with goat cheese; the loche squash with the catch of the day; the scallops tiradito with tumbo tiger milk; or the glazed pork belly.

And for dessert? Diners won’t be disappointed by the perfect corn arepas or the Peruvian chocolate rock, a dessert already gaining notoriety. If it's the right season, the grilled custard apple will be the meal’s happy ending.

A note on the chef: Martínez, who hails from Caracas and studied at La Casserole du Chef, set up shop in 2018. The two-floor restaurant is set in the heart of the trendy Barranco neighbourhood and is a favourite of foodies across the city.

Topped with a tipple: To enjoy a meal with a little extra panache, browse Mérito’s bespoke cocktail selection: favourites include the Cinnamon Spice, a concoction of pisco macerated with cinnamon and apple liqueur, and the Coconut Anise, sporting rum, coconut liqueur and passion fruit.

Other ventures: During the pandemic, Martínez created Demo Mérito, a delivery initiative that channels the restaurant’s essence, and set up a small shop with some of their most popular preparations. In late 2020, he expanded the premises, with Demo still doing delivery while Mérito focuses on ever-changing tasting menus – don't expect to find the same dishes every time.