Tag Archives: breakfast/brunch

hydra greek islands

3 days in Hydra, Greece

Anyone hankering for an island escape from Athens without having to spend numerous hours commuting needn’t look any further than the Saronic archipelago. Among the islands is Hydra, barely an hour from the port of Piraeus (Athens); an island popular with day-trippers, yet even better when you stay.

hydra greek islands

mules hydra greek islands

basil hydra greek islands

old door hydra greek islands

green grapes hydra greece

What sets Hydra apart from the other inhabited Saronic islands is that cars and other motor vehicles are prohibited; the only exceptions being garbage trucks and ambulances. This means that getting around the island is by foot, by boat or by donkey.

The island’s main town, also called Hydra, is built on a natural amphitheatre facing the port. 18th century bastions sit either side of the port, and the small town between them harbours traditional stone mansions, monasteries, cobbled streets and passages and numerous squares.

The centre of town is the waterfront, a beautiful precinct of outdoor cafés, restaurants and small shops that filter into the passages that radiate from the port. It’s here that we found some of the best green grapes we’d tried in a very long time!

sea sponges mastic hydra greek islands

cushions hydra greek islands

fishing boat cats hydra greek islands

The beauty of staying in Hydra, rather than doing it as a day-trip, is you get to experience it before and after it swells with visitors. As the sun is still rising over the ridge you can take in the cool air and watch the fishing and service boats unload their cargo. Everything is piled onto trolleys and on the backs of donkeys and delivered throughout the village.

If you time it right, you’ll catch a fisherman selling his fresh catch straight from the boat, even sneaking a few small fish to the numerous friendly cats you see around the village.

stachi bakery hydra greek islands

koulouri stachi bakery hydra greek islands
Cream cheese koulouri at Stachi Bakery


Breakfast in Hydra is easy to come by, as many of the cafés offer hearty plates of food and decent coffee to go with it. The scrambled eggs with bacon at Isalos Café is almost big enough for two, but if something lighter is preferred, then Stachi Bakery in a passage by the port ought to be investigated. Their cream cheese koulouri is perfectly fresh first thing in the morning. They also have plenty of local cookies, pastries and breads.

The cheapest coffee can be found at the Cool Mule Café, providing you get it takeaway, but the real reason people come here is for their fab gelato.

isalos cafe hydra greek islands
Isalos Café


cool mule gelato hydra greek islands
Cool Mule Café


hydra greek islands

museum of hydra greek islands
The Historic Archives and Museum of Hydra (IAMY)


Brushing up on the island’s traditions, history and culture is made easy by visiting The Historic Archives and Museum of Hydra, also known as IAMY. Artefacts, original manuscripts, old firearms, traditional costumes and paintings by Greek and European artists are all on display among many other things. Entry is €5.

A walk up to the nearby bastions offers beautiful views over the town and surrounding Aegean, plus you can get up close to the original 18th century cannons used to fire at raiding Turks.

cannon hydra greek islands

spelia hydra greek islands
Spelia – café-bar and swimming spot


Aside from taking a dip at one of the glorious beaches and swimming spots – like Spelia and Avlaki Beach – a leisurely walk along the rugged coastline is a wonderful way to spend the morning.

There’s a paved path that follows the coast southwest from Hydra village, passing beautiful coves, beaches and tiny hamlets. The first you get to is Kamínia, a sleepy fishing hamlet facing a small marina. Come in the afternoon and watch the sunset from Kodylenia’s, a traditional restaurant perched on the rocks. Just below it is a fab swimming spot – no beach, just beautiful turquoise water straight off the rocks.

avlaki beach hydra greek islands
Avlaki Beach


kaminia hydra greek islands

kaminia hydra greek islands

kaminia hydra greek islands

kaminia hydra greek islands


A little further is Castello Hydra, a renovated fort-like structure that’s now a restaurant, boutique hotel, function space and beach. Stop here for a swim, lounge on the terrace with a cocktail and take in that Aegean panorama.

Keep walking along the path and you’re greeted with an elevated view of Vlychos, another small fishing hamlet that’s sparsely populated, yet offers a few eateries and taverns. Plus there’s that tempting pebble beach and cluster of umbrellas.

castello hydra greek islands
Castello Hydra


vlychos hydra greek islands


pirate bar hydra greek islands
The Pirate Bar


sunset restaurant hydra greek islands
Sunset Restaurant


Anyone’s bound to be a bit knackered after a morning of coastal exploration and swimming. Life’s tough in the Greek Islands!

The solution? Drinks overlooking water, of course.

Those cafés and restaurants are perfect territory for all things beer, vino and ouzo, so why not take advantage and simply go with the flow? Our pick was The Pirate Bar, but you couldn’t go wrong with whatever you choose.

cafe hydra greek islands
Café Hydra


ciao cafe hydra greek islands
Ciao Café


There are some excellent restaurants in Hydra, as I’m aware, but our long-term travellers budget and the Euro weren’t great friends. Tucking into regional specialties and local vino at places like Xeri Elia would have been lovely, but we made do with what the budget allowed. Not that we went without, mind you.

One of my favourites is Café Hydra, a tiny place tucked in the back streets in an abandoned market building. A handful of tables, simple hand-written menu, breakfast, grilled meats and seafood. Loved their eggplant (6) baked with onion and tomato, stewed chicken (6) and grilled octopus (8).

Ciao Café is another great spot, set up with a fishermen’s theme and popular with the older men of the village. You can expect crêpes, baked pasta and many local specialties. Their four-cheese gratinated spaghetti (6.5) is quite something!

It’s here that we learned why many of the older men often have a sprig of fresh oregano tucked on one of their ears. When it was time to eat, they simply tore leaves off it to season their food. One of them couldn’t help himself when I got my baked pasta. He gave me his sprig of oregano and, in Greek, said and gestured that I tear off the leaves and mix it through my pasta.

hydra greek islands

More traditional food can be enjoyed at Taverna Lulu’s, a family set-up with a lovely outdoor terrace beneath shady ficus trees. Everything’s home-cooked and hearty – from soudjoukakia (meatballs in tomato sauce) to giouvetsi (meat with pasta), even bolognese and carbonara.

When the pangs for gyros strike, the beautifully decorated And Onion (Kai Kremmidi) smashes out some very tasty specimens. We really love the Middle Eastern touches with some of the food, things like hummus and falafels. Great pork souvlaki (9) and adana kebab (6), too.

taverna lulus hydra greek islands
Taverna Lulu’s


and onion restaurant hydra greek islands

and onion kai kremmidi restaurant hydra greek islands
And Onion Restaurant (Kai Kremmidi)


hydra greek islands


How to get to Hydra from Piraeus.


Hellenic Seaways runs between Piraeus and Hydra six times a day, although frequency can change seasonally. Check their website for more details.


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hydra greek islands

Chorreadas - Costa Rican corn pancakes

Chorreadas – Costa Rican corn pancakes

The makings of chorreadas - Costa Rican corn pancakes

When travelling through Costa Rica, one thing you’re quick to discover out on the streets is the abundance of sodas. No, not fizzy soft drinks in cans and bottles – I’m talking about small, family-run eateries that sit on the side of the road; generally with undercover seating – or even holes-in-the-wall in market buildings.

This is where you see taxi drivers, local workers and residents getting their fill on honest, homestyle cooking.

Chorreadas - Costa Rican corn pancakes

Many of the sodas have their own specialties. Stuff for breakfast, slow-cooked meaty stews, deep-fried goodies, gallo pinto (rice & beans), you name it. And it’s all so cheap!

One of the typical breakfast dishes you can pick up at a soda is chorreadas – pancakes made from ground fresh corn – simply served with natilla, which is a type of sour cream, a cup of coffee or glass of milk.

The makings of chorreadas - Costa Rican corn pancakes

The more modern variations make them similar to regular Western-style pancakes with eggs and flour – using a food processor or blender rather than laboriously grinding the corn with a mincer.

I’ve gone with the modern method with mine, also studding the batter with slices of fresh banana for a little more natural sweetness. You could drown the chorreadas with maple syrup or honey, but to be honest, there’s actually enough sweetness in there thanks to the corn.

Give them a go!

Recipe adapted from here

Chorreadas - Costa Rican corn pancakes


Print Recipe
Chorreadas - Costa Rican corn pancakes
Like a bit of corn? Then have it in pancake form with these Costa Rican chorreadas. Topped with banana and sour cream, they're the perfect breakfast!
Chorreadas - Costa Rican corn pancakes
Cuisine Costa Rican
Cuisine Costa Rican
Chorreadas - Costa Rican corn pancakes
  1. Remove and discard the husks and all of the silk from each of the corn. Holding the corn upright, cut the kernels off the cobs.
  2. Place the kernels, eggs, flour, salt and milk into a blender and blitz until smooth. Alternatively use a stick blender.
  3. Heat a pan over medium flame. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon of oil into the pan, swirl around, then pour some of the corn batter into the pan - using a ⅓ cup measure. Swirl or spread the batter around to form an even 15 cm sized pancake.
  4. Note: if using banana, arrange 6 slices of banana on top of the batter.
  5. Cook for 2 minutes on the first side, or until nicely coloured. Very carefully flip it over and cook for a further 1 minute. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
  6. To serve, simply dollop some sour cream (natilla) and sprinkle over some icing sugar, if you wish.
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quito ecuador

Where to eat and drink in Quito, Ecuador

historic centre quito ecuador

Here we are in Quito, one of the world’s first UNESCO listed sites – a beautiful place filled with architectural beauties, and sadly, one that also has the stigma of crime. Do some light online research on Quito and you soon come across blogs and articles completely bagging the place.

Robberies, kidnappings when using unregistered taxis and petty theft. The stories go on. Crime is an issue in parts of many South American cities, but to be honest, that’s not enough to make us sidestep a place altogether.

I’ve said it before. Be street smart, don’t do stupid things, watch your belongings and just be sensible and aware of the risks.

Now, let’s take a look at the Quito we experienced, crime-free of course, and not get too precious about things.

historic centre quito ecuador

historic centre quito ecuador

jugos la compana quito ecuador
Jugos a la Compaña – stop in for fab passionfruit or chocolate cake, empanadas, humitas or pasteles.


el panecillo quito ecuador

plaza de la independencia quito ecuador

This is a city built along the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano and bordered by the hills of Panecillo and Ichimbia, and when it comes to the topic of UNESCO, the Old Town is where things are at.

It’s a hotpot of colonial buildings, leafy plazas, stunning churches and Baroque-style architecture almost everywhere you turn. It’s no wonder that UNESCO views it as one of best-preserved historic centres of Spanish America.

dulceria colonial coffee quito ecuador

Plaza de la Independencia sits in the centre of town, surrounded by palaces and the impressive Metropolitan Cathedral. Taking residence in front of the cathedral, are a few cafes that spill onto the pavement, creating an almost European atmosphere of al fresco tables, umbrellas and people sipping coffee.

Dulcería Colonial has been going at it since 1988, serving up early breakfast, sandwiches, traditional sweets, juices and espresso. They even do Vietnamese coffee and flat whites – all served with a beaming smile. It’s the most perfect spot to people watch and take in the stunning surroundings.

Dulceria Colonial, Plaza Grande, OE4-21 Espejo & Venezuela

galletti coffee roasters quito ecuador

For the best coffee in Quito, of everything we tried, head to none other than Galletti Coffee Roasters. This coffee mecca is tucked beneath the grand old Teatro Bolívar and is owned by a New Yorker that’s been a resident for 19 years.

There’s a limited breakfast menu, focaccia sandwiches, quiche, humitas and pastries, plus they sell merchandise like preserves, loose leaf tea, soap, liqueurs and a variety of house-roasted coffee beans. Each bean sold has info on the elevation and location it was grown – just in case you’re a bit OCD about those types of things.

Galletti Coffee Roasters, Avenida Rio Amazonas N37 – 271

cafeto cafe quito ecuador

Finding breakfast in Quito isn’t the greatest of tasks, especially if local fare is all you’re after. There a many small joints selling some kind of pastele, humita or tortilla to buy or nibble on the go.

If you’re after a cafe with a bit of character, head to Cafeto and sit beneath vaulted ceilings and admire the stunningly manicured courtyard (see last pic) of the adjacent Museo de San Agustín.

Food-wise, tuck into fruit and yoghurt or the Ecuadoriano (5) – fried eggs, humita de sal and fresh orange juice. Or go for tamal de pollo, scrambled eggs or tortillas de maiz. The espresso is decent here, as well.

Cafeto, Chile 930

crustum cafe quito ecuador

breakfast crustum cafe quito ecuador

It isn’t only tempting things like baguettes, dark cacao sourdough or beer bread that gets people in this bakery’s door. Crustum serves craft beer, vino and espresso, and if breakfast is the go, they put on a few options for that.

$5 will get you a spread of scrambled eggs with grilled tomato, house-made bread, fruit and either juice or coffee. The scrambled eggs ended up being the best we’d tried all over South America, something the continent really struggles with. Unless you like your bouncy, overcooked eggs, that is. These were creamy and absolutely divine.

The saddest part? We returned the following day for more of those eggs, but the guy that made them hadn’t turned up for work yet. Unfortunately the lady (owner?) cooked up those ubiquitous, overcooked bouncy eggs you get everywhere.

Crustum, Plaza De San Agustín

breakfast san a gustito cafe quito ecuador

Located just metres away from Crustum is San a Gustito, an eatery that also puts on breakfast, but has more of a local flavour about it.

Here you can also tuck into tamales, empanadas, humitas, seco de chivo (goat stew), Peruvian ceviche and churrasco.

I went for the costeño (3.5) – a spread of scrambled eggs, bolón, fruit, juice and coffee. Or you could go for the saludable (3.5) – fruit, yoghurt, granola, juice, coffee and toast.

San a Gustito, Plaza De San Agustín

basilica del sagrado voto nacional quito ecuador

basilica del sagrado voto nacional quito ecuador

basilica del sagrado voto nacional quito ecuador

The city of Quito isn’t short of things to see, and if you’re into your historic landmarks, there are more than enough of those. One we can highly recommend is the imposing Basilica Del Sagrado Voto Nacional, the twin-spired cathedral that overlooks the old town.

This building is magnificent inside and out, and for a small fee you can go behind the scenes and walk across the top of the nave ceiling and across to a ladder that leads to the belfry.

One thing you do notice about the cathedral is that rather than having gargoyles, it has pelicans, iguanas and other local birds. For those that like their heights, take a precarious external ladder up even further on a rear tower. Not for the faint hearted!

Basilica Del Sagrado Voto Nacional, Carchi & Venezuela

mercado central quito ecuador

mercado central quito ecuador

Market-goers can get their fill at Mercado Central, the city’s hot-pot of fresh produce, flowers, pharmaceuticals, household goods and more. It isn’t the most amazing market you’ll visit, but there’s enough over its two levels to keep you occupied for a short while.

A couple of things not to be missed are the sheets of swirled chocolate sold upstairs at a few side-by-side vendors selling the same kinds of things.

Here you can also bag up some homemade peanut butter, unsalted and deliciously thick. Perfect for the traveller looking to beef up their morning toast with a thick layer of peanut-ty goodness.

mercado central quito ecuador

mercado central quito ecuador

peanut butter mercado central quito ecuador

chocolate mercado central quito ecuador

food hall mercado central quito ecuador

hornados de elenita mercado central quito ecuador

hornados de elenita mercado central quito ecuador

ecuadorian chicken soup mercado central quito ecuador

For some of the city’s cheapest traditional food, head either to the downstairs food hall for the likes of locro de papas (potato soup with avocado & cheese) or sopa de pollo (chicken soup; above).

Don’t forget to head upstairs for a big plate of hornados (roast pork). Our pick was Hornados De Elenita, as she seduced us with free samples of succulent roast pork cut straight from the beast. For $3 you get a plate of pork with potatoes, salad and crackling.

ecuadorian chorizo soup mercado central quito ecuador

I couldn’t resist the morcilla from an adjacent vendor, but rather than the morcilla most of us may be used to, this one’s a gritty affair flecked with sweet fruit. It’s served in a soup with potato, and to be honest, it’s not something I could finish.

The sausage was perfectly fine, but that soup was a real struggle to get down. Intensely flavoured with what could be nothing other than poorly washed intestine. I was defeated.

Mercado Central, Avenida Pichincha

historic centre quito ecuador

quito ecuador

metropolitan cathedral quito ecuador
Metropolitan Cathedral


iglesia de san francisco quito ecuador
Iglesia de San Francisco


street food quito ecuador

chicharron street food quito ecuador

chicharron street food quito ecuador

street food quito ecuador

street food quito ecuador

Street food isn’t everywhere in Quito, but you are bound to come across something that may tempt. Grilled plantains and addictive plantain chips, boiled quail eggs with salt, deep-fried pastries, maiz tortillas or chicharron with peanuts.

One thing you can’t miss is the ice cream. First there are the people that sell coconut ice cream straight from a cooler box – nothing too exciting, but if you like it extra sweet, this will do it for you.

Then there are the mora (blackberry) ice cream vendors. Some guys sell it already scooped into a cone that’s resting on a block of dry ice, but if you want the best, head to the top of Avenida Guayaquil.

Here you’ll see workers from nearby ice cream stores standing on the roadside holding cones of mora & vanilla soft serve out to the traffic. Drivers literally stop to buy one and then keep on driving. There is a chocolate version, but it’s the mora that stole our hearts. Magic stuff.

ice cream quito ecuador

calle la ronda quito ecuador

Anyone that’s up for a drink can get swilling at one of a few bars along the cobbled Calle la Ronda. This charming reminder of what the city used to be like is dotted with restaurants and cafes, specialty stores and, of course, places to drink.

happy rock bar quito ecuador

Not too far from Calle La Ronda is a bar we spent a little time in each afternoon we were in town. Ok, maybe a bit more than a little.

Moody lighting, rock theme, retro music and vinyl records dangling from the ceiling. The booze is seriously cheap and the happy hour deals are irresistible.

There’s plenty of food to soak up all that booze – salchipapa, pizza, burgers, nachos, pork ribs, hotdogs and parrillada.

Happy Rock Bar, Guayaquil & Morales

ronda andina quito ecuador

Over the road from Happy Rock is what’s effectively a karaoke bar that, thankfully, wasn’t doing karaoke when we dropped by. We had most of the place to ourselves and were served by the friendliest Venezuelan lady.

The beer is nice and cold, and if you’re lucky, you may be given shots of puro, a distilled drink savoured by hardcore local drinkers. Let’s call it firewater, shall we? We tried it straight up and made into canelazo – where it’s steeped and served hot with naranjilla juice, water and cinnamon. Delicious!

Food-wise, there are local dishes and parrilla. We shared the bbq platter (6) – a meaty extravaganza of five different sausages, grilled beef and fries. Loved it.

Ronda Andina, S1-57 Guayaquil

bandido brewing quito ecuador

Cerveza aficionados may want to seek out Bandido Brewing, a nifty little craft brewery and gastro pub set up by American expats that missed their IPA.

Bandido can be found in an old church not too far from Mercado Central; an atmospheric bar that has pew, photos and religious artefacts dotted about the few rooms.

Six beers are on tap, but my favourite was the honey ginger saison – a very floral drop. Pizzas, tacos, sandwiches and burgers take care of the food department, plus a “few picking’ plates” like stout or regular chicken wings and crumbed and fried camembert with sweet honey mustard.

Bandido Brewing, Jose Joaquin Olmedo 407

comidas rapidas al paso quito ecuador

papipollo comidas rapidas al paso quito ecuador

Eating dirt-cheap food in Quito is a definite possibility, but you need to find it. Tucked around the backstreets are small holes-in-the-wall serving up almuerzo for a few dollars, or there’s this joint.

Comidas Rapidas Al Paso is nothing more than two tables in a green-walled passage. The young lady running the show has four dishes on offer, the most expensive is $1.50.

We went for papipollo – a rather generous mound of fries, fried chicken and shredded lettuce. All for $1. Bargain.

Comidas Rapidas Al Paso, Montúfar N2-32

cafe dos no muere quito ecuador

For something a little more refined, but not too swanky, I’d say head over to Cafe Dios No Muere. It’s owned by a Louisiana native that now calls Quito home and it can fill up really fast due to its very compact multi-level space next to a 17th-century monastery.

We enjoyed the Bourbon Street burger (5.5) and Cajun blackened tuna (12) which includes yuca fries and salad. The bread pudding (3.5) dessert is pretty good, but the highlight of the night had to be the beignets (3). They’re actually better than the ones I tried at the famed Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans.

I’m deadly serious.

Cafe Dos No Muere, corner Flores & Junin N4-28

restaurant paraiso quito ecuador

We found ourselves on the other side of town in search of a DHL, and in the process ended up having lunch at a local, and very popular Chinese eatery on the traffic and fume-choked Avenida Cristóbal-Colón.

Restaurant Paraíso is your run-of-the-mill chifa with all the usual Cantonese mainstays. The combos seem to be the way to go at lunchtime, judging by how many local workers ordered one – fried rice or stir-fry with a drink priced from $3.80 to $6.80; some even come with a soup.

Not somewhere you’d cab it to from the historic centre, but if you’re in the neighbourhood, definitely one to consider.

Restaurant Paraíso, Avenida Cristobal Colon & 10 de Agosto

el maple quito ecuador

philly vegetarian steak el maple quito ecuador

One eatery that took us both by surprise was El Maple, in the popular drinking and backpacker ghetto of La Mariscal. It wasn’t until we sat down and looked at the menu that we realised we’d entered a no carne zone. Yep, vegetarian and vegan only.

We loved it.

It’s a lovely space in an old renovated house with slight industrial touches and shelves filled with books. Service is top notch, too.

We sampled the magno maple burger (5.99) – 7-grain patty, some greens, caramelised onion, soy with garlic mayo, cheese and avocado. Very nice.

I was sort of in love with the Philly vegetarian steak (7.25) – strips of veggie meat (TVP?), cheese, caramelised onion, sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and vegan cilantro mayo. Incredible. The flavours were bang on.

El Maple, Joaquín Pinto E7-68 & Diego de Almagro


How we got to Quito from Ayampé.


From Ayampe, get the green Manglarato bus on the highway (check map) to Puerto Lopéz not too far up the highway. The bus runs every 15 minutes or so and costs $1 per person.

From Puerto Lopéz get the Carlos A. Aray bus to Quito. Departure times hover around 5.30am, 9.30am or 7pm. We got the 9.10am, cost was $12 per person and took 11 hours.

Alternatively you can get the Reina de Camino bus to Quito at 8pm, departing Puerto Lopéz.

The bus arrives at Terminal Terrestre Quitumbe on the southside of Quito, so you need to get a taxi to the Old Town. Cost will be $10.

Be sure that it’s a registered taxi, not a regular looking car. Robberies are known to happen in unregistered taxis.


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where to eat and drink quito ecuador

street art barranco lima

Places to eat and drink in Miraflores, Lima

parque central miraflores lima

Peru’s premier city of Lima is a magnet for anyone entering or travelling through the country. It’s enormous, it has just about everything you’d expect from a big city and it’s a great place to stay for a few days. Maybe even base yourself for even longer.

Visitors are bound to find themselves in the district of Miraflores, the city’s main tourist area for shopping, eating and nightlife. Located between the high brow San Isidro neighbourhood and bohemian Barranco to the south, Miraflores has the best of both worlds; plus it’s armed with some of the city’s best parks.

The main commercial centre of Miraflores seems to centre around Parque Kennedy, somewhere to take a seat in the shade and people watch before or after tackling the shops and eateries. Cat lovers can even sidle up to one of the many felines that call this park home.

The area around the park bustles with people and vehicular traffic and when it comes to eating and drinking, it’s a hotspot for that. Cheap eats, cafes, local and international restaurants and so much more.

Here are a few spots that got our attention.

street art miraflores lima

agora cafe arte miraflores lima

agora cafe arte miraflores lima
Ágora Cafe y Arte, Diagonal 378


For a morning or afternoon jolt of caffeine, forget that consistently ordinary American coffee chain and head to Ágora, instead. It’s made well, it hits the spot and if you’re tea lover, they do loose leaf here as well.

Breakfast, cake, empanadas and sandwiches can fill the stomach, and if you like your quirky objects, there’s a small gallery upstairs to browse or pick up something special.

la lucha sangucheria miraflores lima

la lucha sangucheria miraflores lima
La Lucha Sanguchería, Agenda Santa Cruz 847


We got our first taste of La Lucha in Arequipa, so it was great to come across them again in Miraflores. The sandwiches here mean business. They’re served in a crusty roll, there’s a fab choice of fillings and the fries are worth it on their own.

The frozen juices are excellent, and if you like your passionfruit, then this may be the best maracuya frappé you’ve had for a very long time. Yes, they’re that good.

La Lucha is conveniently located opposite Parque Kennedy and close to nearby bars and clubs, so their Sun-Thurs 1am and Fri-Sat 3am closing times make it easy to snack after boozing.

republica miraflores lima
República, Diagonal 220


If it’s Peruvian fast food you’re after, then República may well deliver. Located just metres from La Lucha, these guys dish up the likes of salchipapas, arroz chaufa, lomo or tallarín saltado and burgers.

It sounded good on paper and would have been great if it was cooked fresh, but the key ingredients in my pollo broaster (18) dish were a little too flaccid for my liking. Floppy hand-cut fries, soppy fried chicken with a fried egg, salad and fried plantain. Top marks would have been given had the chicken and fries not been the ones woefully sitting in a bain-marie.

restaurante tarboush miraflores lima
Tarboush, Diagonal 358


If I can rate personal favourites for this particular part of the Calle Diagonal strip, then Tarboush would come out on top. They’re perpetually busy at night, and you often see people lining up to score a table to get their fill at this Arabic eatery.

The Arabic-style lamb ribs are heavenly, shish kebab con hummus (22) is out of this world and the beer is nice and cold. We came here a second time just for that unmissable shish kebab with hummus.

parque central food carts miraflores lima

Should you find yourself with the munchies, there are a few vendors offering a few things that can take care of that over in Parque Kennedy.

Churros, mazamorra morada (thickened spiced purple corn & fruit dessert), arroz zambito (rice pudding with coconut & spices) and regular arroz con leche (rice pudding) can look after the sweet tooth.

For something savoury, there’s always someone selling butifarras – bread rolls that are cut in half, crisped-up on a grill plate then filled with either shredded roasted turkey or pork plus some lettuce, onion and Creole sauce.

calle manuel bonilla miraflores

Not too far from Parque Kennedy is a strip of bars and eateries that transforms into nightlife central as the sun goes down. Try to ignore the hot and sweaty atmosphere in Cafe Bar Habana and take a seat at the bar and cool down with a traditional Cuban cocktail.

Or if Cuban isn’t your thing, then take your pick from Rouge, the very popular La Cachina, La Cafetera or anything else that jumps out at you.

It may be slightly off Calle Manuel Bonilla, but we were quite taken by the intimately cosy Ginebra with its moody lighting, great choice of gins and craft beers. Service is super friendly, as well.

calle de las pizzas calle san ramon miraflores lima

Calle San Ramón, or Calle de las Pizzas as it’s more commonly known due to several pizzerias that can be found there, is a hotspot of bars and restaurants that comes alive at night.

Touts are out in full force along this popular pedestrian strip and it’s an easy place to find some local food, or maybe some pizza, an enormous glass of icy beer and get right into the swing of things.

la tapadita miraflores

ceviche la tapadita miraflores

Spanning from the southwest corner of Parque Kennedy is Calle Berlin, a very popular spot for with the backpacker crowd and, of course, the locals. Here you’ll find a handful of clubs, bars, eateries and quirky shops, but just like Calle de la Pizzas, it really comes alive at night.

During the day, Berlin is a peaceful thoroughfare that’s also worth checking out for menu del día. Not a great deal of options, but you can find some real gems – as we did at La Tapadita.

asado con frijoles la tapadita miraflores

alpaca con vino la tapadita miraflores

La Tapadita, Calle Berlin 315


For 12 soles you can tuck into the likes of papa a la huancaína (boiled potatoes doused in puréed chilli peppers, cheese, onion & garlic) and delicious pollo asado con frijoles (chicken with beans), including a drink.

Or for 25 soles you can have the most divine ceviche as a starter and slow-cooked alpaca con vino as a main.

Seek out the regular menu for dishes like tacu tacu (rice & bean pancake), a selection of tallarín (noodle) combos or usuals like milanesa and steak.

aromia cafe miraflores lima

aromia cafe miraflores lima
Aromia, Calle Libertad 415


For an excellent coffee fix, head one block down Calle Libertad to Aromia and let the team spoil you with their crafty filtration methods. The more traditional espresso as well as Syphon, V60, Chemix, Aeropress and Clever are up for grabs and the beans are single origin through and through.

There are some pretty fab cakes and cookies going and a few nice little brekkie options. The prosciutto panini (15) was a very nice way to start the day.

el fogon miraflores lima

el fogon miraflores lima
El Fogón, Calle Berlin 421


At the quieter section of Calle Berlin, where it elbows into the residential area, is the vintage diner-style El Fogón. Traditional Creole dishes are the go at this quiet neighbourhood eatery – with picarones, butifarras and cassava cakes up for grabs.

If you’re a bit of a thrill seeker, then something like choncholí (intestine), rachi (tripe) and anticuchos (beef heart) may sate your edgy cravings. Actually, the anticucho (6) here is really good and deliciously juicy. You can go all out and order three skewers, but appetites weren’t all that extreme with either of us, so I was fine with one.

If you prefer your food safer, then something like the chorizo sandwich (8) may do it.

There’s a sparsely stocked glass cabinet of desserts going, too. Things like jelly cups, arroz con leche and mazamorra morada. I was quite smitten with the plate of freshly fried picarones (5), wading in delicious syrup.

arepa cafe miraflores lima
Arepa Cafe, Calle Berlin 407


For something non-Peruvian, you can get your arepa fix at this popular cafe right next door to El Fogón. The formula couldn’t be simpler here. Choose your base – beef, chicken, falafel, mushrooms etc, add two ingredients like cheese, ham, guacamole, eggs, fried onion etc and you’re done.

If booze is a requirement with your arepas, then simply head to the corner store, bring it back to your table and crack it open. They’re perfectly ok with BYO. Otherwise they’ve got the usual non-alcoholic bevies.

Other than arepas, there are tequeños, patacones, empanadas, cachapas and even breakfast.

breakfast la postreria cafe lima

la postreria cafe lima

You never know what you can come across when you wander the backstreets of Miraflores, like the quirky and beachy La Postrería.

They make their own bread and ice cream, many of the recipes come from the owner’s grandmother – even ingredients from the farms of relatives and friends. You’ve got to love that.

 la postreria cafe lima

la postreria cafe lima
La Postrería Café, Calle Enrique Palacios 1008


Tuck into a wholesome breakfast, sandwich, pizza or quinoa gratin and sip it down with a fresh juice or excellent coffee. You’re sure to feel good after chowing on homemade grainy toast with avocado (20), served with hummus, olive oil and black sesame.

Or crunch into taquitos de cameron (26) – two crispy tortillas topped with smashed avocado, crispy shrimp, shredded cabbage, fig honey and sesame oil.

estacion 329 lima
Estación 329, Calle Enrique Palacios 329


For what I think is the best coffee in Miraflores, that we tried, head to Estacion 329 a few blocks north of the Parque Kennedy hub. They’ve been in biz for less than a year, showing Limeñans how true espresso ought to be done. It’s nothing short of excellent.

Find a handful of sandwiches to nibble on, a few cakes, pastries, muesli and fresh juices. The venue may be petite, but it sure packs a punch.

el pan de la chola cafeteria lima

el pan de la chola cafeteria lima
El Pan de la Chola, A Mariscal La Mar 918


Up on the edge of Miraflores is a mecca for all things baked, and we can only urge anyone to walk, über or cab it to this industrial-residential corner of the district and grab a table at El Pan de la Chola.

The most incredible sourdough bread – a welcome relief from that stuff you get all over Peru – and a great selection of cookies, pastries and cakes all on display across the counter. Those croissants are to die for flakey.

From something as simple as avocado sprinkled with black pepper and sea salt, some olive oil and plenty of toasted sourdough, to a deliciously moist frangipan tart and coffee – this bakery cafe is a must for anyone visiting Lima.

street art barranco lima

If we can step out of Miraflores for a second, lets bus it down to neighbouring Barranco – another popular district for visitors and Limeñans alike. Galleries, boutique stores, restaurants, loads of bars and a handful of cafés; you can almost see why it’s been pinned as the city’s SoHo district.

Take a look at Puente de Los Suspiros (The Bridge of Sighs), wander through Parque Barranco, linger at a museum or gallery and be sure to check out the street art throughout the area.

tostaduria bisetti barranco lima
Tostaduria Bisetti, Avenida Pedro de Osma 116


Caffeine aficionados need look no further than Tostaduria Bisetti for all their needs. The aroma of roasting beans hits you as soon as you enter this temple of coffee, a venue that’s been at it in this colonial mansion since the 1950s.

They roast top quality Peruvian beans and they even offer courses on roasting, preparation and tasting. There’s a small selection of pastries, cakes and cookies to enjoy, plus free wifi to connect or get some work done.

chifa xin lung lima

chifa xin lung lima
Chifa Xin Lung, Carlos Villarán 870


It may not be in Miraflores or Barranco, but if anyone has been around the bus terminals on traffic-choked Javier Prado, they know it’s a culinary wasteland, especially at night.

We were in need of dinner ahead of an overnight Cruz del Sur bus trip out of town, and after half an hour of wandering the streets, I came up with one potential.

Chifa Xin Lung is your typical, brightly-lit, sprawling Chinese restaurant where you can sit beneath flashing psychedelic ceiling lights and dive into enormous plates of food.

All the Chinese-Peruvian mainstays can be enjoyed, including a variety of saltados and that ubiquitous aeropuerto dish – a Chinese-Peruvian stir-fry of rice, noodles, some veggies and a protein.

The tallarín saltado con pollo y chancho (16) is typically Cantonese, glistening in thickened sauce and loaded with chicken, pork, egg noodles and veg. Fried rice lovers can indulge in a mountain of chaufa de chancho (9), filled with a confetti of pork, egg, peas and other treasures.



How we got to Lima from Paracas.


Cruz del Sur departs Paracas at 8am and arrives around 11.45am. Cost per person is 65 pesos.

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where to eat and drink in miraflores

arequipa peru

Arequipa – what to see, eat and drink in the White City

arequipa peru

With just under 1 million residents, the city of Arequipa is Peru’s second largest, and the moment you set foot in its historic centre you understand why it’s also named the White City.

Thanks to the snowcapped volcanos that dominate the skyline around Arequipa – Misti, Chachani and Pichu Pichu – the historic centre is almost entirely built in volcanic sillar stone, in a style that’s a combination of European and native techniques.

Almost everywhere you look you see stunning archways, porticos, courtyards and façades adorned with patterned window grills and intricate carvings, and one of the best places to see them is in Claustros de la Iglesia de La Compañía, which you can see below.

claustros de la iglesia de la compañia arequipa

pasaje de la cathedral arequipa

arequipa plaza de armas

arequipa cathedral

The centrepiece of the city is the building that overlooks Plaza de Armas; the same one that spans the entire length of the plaza – the only cathedral in Peru that does so.

The twin bell-towered Basilica de Arequipa dates back to 1544 when its predecessor was built on the plaza, and after being hit with earthquakes and infernos and many rebuilds and restorations, it looks as good as new today.

The plaza itself is a great spot to relax and people watch. The colonnades on the three other sides of the plaza house many restaurants, tour operators and local services, and there’s even a decent supermarket for all your traveller food-shopping needs. Perfect if you’re doing the Colca Canyon trek.

arequipa old window

la despensa arequipa

croissant la despensa arequipa

la despensa arequipa

Complimentary breakfast is bound to come with your room rate, but if that boring flat bread, jam, margarine and weak filter coffee is slowly killing you each morning, you needn’t travel too far to give it a rest.

La Despensa can be found a couple of blocks north of the plaza and it’s here that you can go crazy on croissants, cakes, homemade bread and even biscotti. Or simply go for one of their breakfast combos like the La Dispensa – croissant, toast, avocado, juice and coffee. Real coffee, not that weak filter nonsense.

La Despensa, Calle Santa Catalina 302

coffee arequipa

best coffee in arequipa palacios

palacios coffee arequipa

If you’re after the best coffee in Arequipa, well, we think it is anyway, then prepare to walk about 10 minutes to the tiny corner roaster that’s serious about what it does.

Palacios Coffee has the usual espresso options, which it does with excellence, but you can always go for another filtration method like V60, Aeropress, Chemix or French Press.

The friendly guys are keen on letting you know about the origin of their beans, which are roasted just behind the counter.

There are a couple of cakes and cookies to nibble on, plus some products like coffee exfoliants and coffee lip balms.

Palacios Coffee, Calle Lima 201

ocacao chocolateria arequipa

Chocolate is big business in Arequipa, and you can find some great little artisan makers about the city. We dropped into oCacao to check out their wares, and whilst it may not have the same grand set-up as its competitors, it still delivers.

There’s a small cabinet filled with handmade chocolates – hello, pisco sour bonbon – plus a couple of cakes and cookies. The hot chocolate is pretty decent, though I’d prefer it stronger, and if you simply can’t do without coffee, they do a mean affogato.

oCacao Chocolatería, Calle Palacio Viejo 205A

ristretto cafe arequipa

Visitors to Arequipa often stick to the historic centre and rarely venture beyond it. It may not be the prettiest part of town, but if you walk across Puente Grau into the Yanahuara district, you can brain-freeze yourself silly on a coffee frappé at Ristretto. You’d probably need it if the outside temperature is in the 30°Cs like it was when we were in town.

Ristretto, Calle Misti 127

old tiles arequipa

colourful textiles arequipa

mercado san camilo arequipa

Four blocks from Plaza de Armas is Mercado San Camilo, one of the city’s largest markets, which spans an entire city block. Here you’ll discover some of the best produce in the historic centre – things like fresh fruits and vegetables, countless varieties of potato, cheeses, juicy olives, breads, seafood and meats.

mercado san camilo arequipa

mercado san camilo arequipa

Juice and ceviche stands are plentiful, as are empanadas and papas rellenas, plus there are kitchens upstairs where you can dose up on more cheap, local fare. On the fringes of the market you can see many ‘witchcraft’ stands selling powders, tonics, herbal remedies and talismans.

Mercado San Camilo, Calle San Camilo, between Perú and Nicolás de Piérola

plaza de armas arequipa

queso helado arequipa

cheese ice cream arequipa

Something that’s unique to Arequipa is its queso helado – or cheese ice cream. It’s easy to spot someone selling it from a doorway beneath the arches on the east side of Plaza de Armas, at Mercado San Camilo or some places dotted about town.

We were even lucky to witness the Queso Helado Festival, where many people set up stands for anyone to sample, then have you vote for your favourites.

There’s actually no cheese in this rich and creamy dessert, and it gets its name from its resemblance to sliced cheese when it’s prepared using the traditional Arequipeño method. Three types of milk go into queso helado – fresh, unsweetened evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk, plus a little coconut and an obligatory sprinkle of cinnamon on top. It really is delicious!

la capricciosa arequipa

ice cream la capricciosa arequipa

If more flavours of ice cream are preferred, then La Capricciosa can take care of that. There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, just your run-of-the-mill flavours, plus a dozen or so cakes to sweeten your teeth with.

There’s a regular menu featuring the likes of breakfast, pancakes, sandwiches and pizza, just in case savoury runs supreme.

La Capricciosa, Calle San Francisco 135

arequipa old town

la petite francaise arequipa

Crêpes rarely get my attention, due to them never being filling enough, but we did drop into La Petite Francaise for a quick lunch and coffee. Eleven sweet fillings like butter, sugar & honey or Nutella, strawberry & banana take care of the dessert side of things.

If savoury is the preference, there are eleven of those, as well. How about hummus and vegetables or American pizza filling?

I can definitely vouch for the blue cheese, spinach, nuts and honey crêpe (14), even if I was still hungry afterwards.

La Petite Francaise, Calle Santa Catalina 413

almuerzo arequipa

almuerzo arequipa

Arequipa isn’t short on almuerzo (set lunch) restaurants, and they’re a very cost effective way to fill up if you’re on a budget. The problem is that these set lunches tend to be a bit same-same wherever you go.

Some kind of simple meat & veg soup as a starter, then something like milanesa, a thin cut of grilled steak or pork or some stewed chicken as a main. Peruvian food doesn’t seem to get creative when it comes to almuerzo. Well, not what we came across.

If none of this matters, then somewhere like this unnamed restaurant can cover all your lunchtime needs. For 7Bs you get caldo blanco (white broth; chicken, veg, rice & quinoa) and either estofado de pollo (chicken stew) or pollo broaster (fried chicken).

No Name Restaurant, Calle Santa Catalina 109

la lucha sangucheria criolla arequipa

la lucha sangucheria criolla arequipa

It may be surrounded by American fast food chains and throngs of shoppers on the pedestrian mall, but a stop-in at La Lucha is definitely worth battling the crowds for.

The sandwiches here are made fresh to order in beautiful crusty rolls, and the filling choices are bang on. How about chicharrón with black olives (13.9) or lechón (13.6; suckling pig) with hand-cut fries?

There are fresh juices, coffee, hot chocolate and beer available, and if there’s more room, you can load up your fries with bacon, cheese and avocado, if you like.

La Lucha Sangucheria Criolla, Calle Mercaderes 116-118

calle santa catalina arequipa

san francisco park arequipa

bru jas bar arequipa

There’s no shortage of bars in the White City, and it’s good to see you don’t have to head to the convenience store to buy your booze, take a seat on a plastic chair outside and crack it open. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Plenty of variety in this town.

Brujas is an English-style pub without being overly thematic, it does happy hour, your usual cocktails and a selection of local craft beers. The crowd is a mix swilling locals, expats and tourists and there’s the occasional football game to get revved up with. A great spot, even if the mojito could do with some improvement.

Brujas, Calle San Francisco 300

la rotunda bar arequipa

Away from the madness of Plaza de Armas and the downtown area is an almost serene pocket of town that’s centred around the tiny Plaza Campo Redondo. You could easily mistake it for an old plaza on Croatia’s Adriatic coast. A few eateries, a few bars and several hotels and hostels. It’s where we stayed, actually.

La Rotonda, which faces the plaza, is a cosy little taproom with some rather nice brews up for grabs. The Uaya Papaya is very nice, if you like a hoppy beer with a hint of tropical fruit flavour. Non-beer drinkers can sample a Chilcano – a simple cocktail made by mixing pisco, lime juice and ginger ale.

La Rotonda, Plaza Campo Redondo #100

kiwi corner arequipa

kiwi corner arequipa

It boasts an all-day happy hour, there’s sport up on the flatscreen and a pool table at this Kiwi themed drinking hole at the top of Calle Bolivar. The drinks list is great and even the humble pisco sour gets creative with concoctions like coffee, chicha (corn beer), coca leaf and aguaymanto (ground cherries).

There’s plenty of good food to go with all that booze, too. Andean fries, anticucho (grilled marinated cow heart), quince spring rolls, bbq chicken wings, burritos, Peruvian-style ribs and burgers.

Kiwi Corner, Calle Bolivar 501

red lion pub arequipa

bangers and mash red lion pub arequipa

They may not stock English beer at this Brit pub, but it’s no reason to avoid this great gringo boozer just a few minutes walk from Plaza Campo Redondo.

Six ice-cold beers on tap plus a good choice of bottled craft beer, the usual spirits and cocktails, a sprawling upstairs floor with live music and a menu loaded with pub favourites like pizza, fish & chips or spaghetti bolognese. The bangers & mash (16) is a very decent take on the classic.

The Red Lion, Calle Jerusalén 528

san francisco church arequipa

cheap restaurant arequipa

sopa fideo lomo saltado arequipa

As Dean endured a dose of gastro from the lukewarm pollo broaster he ate at the no-name almuerzo restaurant, I took myself out to another no name restaurant not too far from it.

For a whopping 5Bs I sat with other solo diners – it seems like that kind of place at night – and tucked into sopa fideo (chicken & macaroni soup) and lomo saltado (beef, potato, tomato & onion). Nothing to rave about, but for $1 per dish, who can complain?

No Name Restaurant, Calle Grau 315A

zig zag restaurant arequipa

zig zag restaurant arequipa

A bit of a culinary treat was in order on our last night in town; somewhere a little upscale compared to the usual budget joints we see every day as we travel.

Housed in a stunning old house overlooking Plaza San Francisco, Zig Zag has an intimate downstairs dining room, plus more seating one floor up via iron spiral stairs designed by none other than Gustave Eiffel.

oxapampa duck breast zig zag restaurant arequipa

quillabamba chocolate mousse zig zag restaurant arequipa

Some excellent Peruvian Tabernero cabernet sauvignon and a feast of protein cooked and served on piping hot slabs of volcanic stone. Loved the breast of Oxapampa duck (62; pictured) and the trio of meat – 200g duck, alpaca and pork (57). All volcanic stone specialties come with either ratatouille or salad plus your choice of fried, sautéed, boiled or mashed potatoes or quinoa risotto.

For dessert, the Quillabamba coffee mouse with a shot of pisco (19) and some refreshing passionfruit ice cream with meringue & carob bean syrup (19).

Zig Zag Restaurant, Calle Zela 210


How we got from Cusco to Arequipa.

Cruz Del Sur has an overnight bus to the Arequipa International Terraport from its own terminal just outside Centro Histórico in Cusco. See map below for location. The cost is 120Bs per person.


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Olinda, Brazil

Olinda – A World Heritage gem

Olinda, Brazil\

Without a doubt, the colonial town of Olinda on Brazil’s northeast coast would have to be one of the most colourful places we’ve visited.

Built on hills straddling the turquoise ocean, this UNESCO listed town ought to be on anyones itinerary, should they consider travelling though this part of the country.

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Home to loads of colonial dwellings, Baroque churches, chapels and convents, this was also once the beating heart of the sugarcane industry.

Today it has a thriving arts and crafts community, brimming with galleries, workshops and studios that dabble in a variety of mediums. It drips with character as well as tropical humidity, and it sure deserves at least a couple of days from anyone that chooses to visit.

Aside from the colourful facades on many of Olinda’s 17th-century houses, what stands out the most is the abundance of murals just about everywhere you look. It truly is like an open air gallery.

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Is that coffee I smell?

There aren’t many cafes in town, but one that’s worth dropping into can be found in the rear of Estação 4 Cantos Galeria, inside an 18th-century townhouse. The front of the shop is an eclectic collection of handmade glassware, sculptures, paintings, jewellery and clothing – not enormous, but definitely worth a poke around.

Olinda, Brazi

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Opening at 2 pm, the cafe at the back is semi-indoors and wraps around a small grassy courtyard, complete with fishpond. There’s a bunch of stuff on the small menu if food is what you’re here for – think bruschetta, soups, quiches and sandwiches – but coffee is good enough for us. And it was good enough for this fussy pair of coffee snobs.

  • Estação 4 Cantos Galeria & Cafe
  • Rua Prudente de Morais, 440
  • Facebook


Olinda, Brazil

Eat & Drink.

A stones-throw from the galeria is one of the more popular eateries you can find in this part of town; although it probably is more about the drinks, to be honest. Some may call it a pub, others could call it a lanchonete. One thing for sure is that the locals love to hang around here for hours – sipping on anything cold and alcoholic, chatting at the tops of their voices and nibbling on a plate of whatever’s going – way into the night.

Olinda, Brazil

Food-wise, there’s a bunch of pratos do casa (plates of the house) as single or double portions and petiscos (small plates) up for grabs – all of which are your typical Brazilian staples. We did the carne do sol com fritas (34) – sun-cured beef that’s pan-tossed with onions, served with fries topped with cheese powder and eaten using toothpicks. There’s always some kind of pimenta (chilli sauce) either on the table or up at the counter for a bit of a spicy kick.

  • Bar do Peneira
  • Rua Prudente de Morais, 167
  • Facebook


Olinda, Brazil

Igreja do Carmo Olinda

Olinda, Brazil

He may not have substantial food on his menu, but the chirpy dude that owns Rei do Coco across the road from Igreja Santo Antônio do Carmo sure does satisfy the açaí lover on a hot day. It’s not all about açaí, either, as you can get your fill on fried snacks like croquettes and pastels; all washed down with a fresh coconut straight from the fridge.

  • Rei do Coco
  • Corner Avenida Liberdade & Rua da Bomfim


Olinda, Brazil

If having lunch whilst being surrounded by original art is more your thing, then I’d probably take the few steps up off Rua Prudente de Morais and choose one of the few tables in this cafe-cum-gallery.

Most of the paintings are done by resident artist Cipriano Sánchez, and his partner Valdir Brito (at least we think it’s his partner) is the chef of the house. The menu is a business card wallet filled with hand-written cards describing each dish – about eight savoury dishes and one dessert, plus a few ice creams.

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

It may be a small menu, but it does have some decent choices – like cannelloni filled with broccoli, shrimp and palm heart or couscous with chicken and beef jerky.

We were both very happy with our dishes, especially the tortilla Espanhola (22) with onion and oregano. My bobo de camarāo (25) – mashed yucca with shrimp – was very delicious and beautifully golden from dendê oil.

  • Atelier Lautréamont Cafe
  • Rua Prudente de Morais, 249


Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil


The several nights we spent in town were based at Pousada dos Quatro Cantos – a 19th-century neoclassical mansion transformed into a very comfortable place to stay.

Guests can splash out and move into one of the suites, lux or super lux rooms fitted-out with antiques, but one of the economic double rooms was good enough for us.

Small swimming pool, beautiful terrace gardens, free wifi and breakfast included.

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

Oh, that breakfast! One of the best we encountered thoughout our entire Brazil travels. Many regional dishes are part of the beautiful buffet such as tapioca, rice pudding, fried cassava and angu – a polenta-like dish.

And those caramelised bananas in sugar syrup! We couldn’t get enough of those.

  • Pousada dos Quatro Cantos
  • Rua Prudente de Morais, 441
  • website



Walking the streets of Olinda is the only way you can get a feel of what it’s all about, despite the undulating cobbles and sometimes very steep hills. Your legs sure do get a workout, so comfy shoes are probably the way to go.

One of the steepest hills has to be the part of Rua Bispo Coutinho just below Igreja de Nossa Santa da Misericordia. It’s a killer! All is rewarded when you reach the top and take in the stunning architecture along the road. Then there’s the view over Olinda and wall of skyscrapers in Recife about 8 kilometres away.

Igreja de Nossa Santa da Misericordia, Olinda

Olinda, Brazil

Olinda, Brazil

There’s a bunch of touristy stores selling the usual tat, plus many religious figurines. Cool down with an ice cream or açaí beneath multi-coloured umbrellas, or continue along Alto da Sé to the imposing Igreja São Salvador do Mundo that looks down over the old town.

Just near it is Caixa D’Agua, an unusual looking water tower built in 1934. Pay a few reais and you can take a glass elevator to the top for some pretty smashing views up and down the coast.

Igreja São Salvador do Mundo, Olinda


Street Food.

As the afternoons near sundown, Alto da Sé transforms into an open-air food market that runs right into the night. Families, teenagers and tourists all mill about creating a buzz as the vendors do their best to lure you in to try whatever they’re offering.

Loads of tapioqueiras sell an assortment of savoury and sweet tapiocas, or you could try the acarajé or skewers of meat.




For my first ever acarajé, I sample the one served up at Barraca das Morenas Marelene Axé. They’re basically black eye pea fritters that have been slowly fried in golden dendê oil. A slit is cut into it, then it gets filled with caruru (thick stew of okra, nuts, dried shrimp and other bits) and then vatupá (a thick concoction of coconut, beans, spices etc). To finish it gets topped with some kind of salsa as well as tiny whole shrimp.

Eating it is a bit of a messy exercise and the taste is rich, salty, a little oily and completely stodgy.


tapioca in brazil

Tapiocas are just as prevalent at the night food market, and the only challenging part is choosing which one. It was the puppy dog eyes we received from Dona Maria when walking past her barraca that made us turn around and sample her food. I bet she does that to everyone!

Her menu is as extensive as the next person and she’s pretty heavy handed with the fillings. They were so good that we returned a couple of nights later.

Coconut, coalho cheese and condensed milk, anyone? Or how about banana and Nutella?

Yep, they’re pretty good.

tapioca in brazil

banana & nutella tapioca

street food

A few of the barracas also do char-grilled skewers of calabresa sausage, chicken and beef; so if a cheap dinner is on the cards – this is the place to come.

If meat isn’t an option, then maybe cheese is? We couldn’t go past Mira Lhait, a jovial woman full of energy and up for a dance whenever the mood strikes. Check this link to see it on my Instagram feed and you’ll see for yourself.

As for that cheese, the one they use is coalho, which is similar to haloumi. It grills beautifully, although Mira didn’t char it enough for me. So while she wandered off somewhere, I sat down and gave my skewer of cheese a little more heat.

So good!

street food

street food

Olinda Brazil


drinks barracas


Olinda comes alive late in the day and well into the night. This is when you see many bars and restaurants open their shutters and doors from a day of slumber, transforming quiet streets into lively and vibrant places. The choice of bars isn’t endless, so let me make a few suggestions on where you can wet your whistle.

There’s always Bar do Peneira which I mentioned earlier, a corner locale that can party until the wee hours over different nights of the week.

For some of the cheapest drinks in town, I’d say head up to the row of drinks barracas next to the Observatory at Alto do Sé. See above photo. These guys specialise in caipirinhas and variations of them; mixing them up with exotic fruits and even condensed milk. There’s nowhere to sit other than the wall on the edge of the terrace or the few plinths beneath the trees. Perfect location, though, as there’s all the street food adjacent to the barracas.

Cheap drinks and cheap street food equals a great night out!

Bodega de Véio

Bodega de Véio

If you want to hang with the locals – or should I say get cosy with them? – then a drink or two at Bodega de Véio needs to make the agenda. This tight little space is a popular haunt with local writers, journalists, artists and other boho types – sipping on something cold whilst chatting and nibbling on shaved prosciutto, croquettes and other small plates of goodies.

The appeal of this place is the way it looks, as it’s really a tiny grocery store that so happens to sell booze and charcuterie. Along with hundreds of grocery items which line its walls – including broom heads, violins, talcum powder and carpenters plums.

  • Bodega de Véio
  • Rua do Amparo, 212
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Na Ladeira Bar e Comedora

In the Upper Town are a couple of places that open their doors at night and pack them in with the younger locals. Na Ladeira Bar e Comedoria takes corner position in a townhouse, with a few tables on the pavement and a lot more upstairs via the spiral staircase.

If food is needed, these guys have you covered with a menu that’s a little different from the norm.

  • Na Ladeira Bar e Comidoria
  • Rua Treze de Maio, 03


A Venda de Seu Biu

A couple of doors away is A Venda de Seu Biu, a funked up traditional bodega with pumping beats, plenty to drink and even a bite to enjoy while people watching from one of the beer keg tables on the pavement.

  • A Venda de Seu Biu
  • Rua de São Bento, 410
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How we got to Olinda (via Recife) from Praia de Pipa.

Got a regular taxi from Pipa down the coast to João Pessoa (3 hrs R$200), where we stayed at CLH Suites João Pessoa in Tambaú for the night. Not the most exciting city so there’ll be no mention of it here.

Following morning got a cab to the bus station (R$30). Buses to Recife leave every half hour, the trip takes about 2 hrs and costs R$35 pp).

The bus terminates at the Termainal Integrado de Passageiros (west of town in Recife) where you then get the metro train from the same terminal to Central Recife. The metro takes about 30 mins and costs R$1.60 pp. Then it was a taxi from Central to Olinda R$30.

Planning to go? Why not pin it?

Olinda Brazil

Fig crostini with pancetta & sage ricotta

Fig & pancetta crostini with sage ricotta

Fig crostini with pancetta & sage ricotta

A recipe that isn’t quite a recipe. That’s all that I have for you today. I mean, there’s no point in telling anyone how to toast a few pieces of bread or griddle a little pancetta and fig, is there?

Grilled figs and pancetta on Chasseur sun grill duck egg blue

The most work you need to do with this non-recipe is toss a good scoop of ricotta into a bowl and stir some thinly sliced fresh sage, virgin olive oil and black pepper through it. As much or as little as you want – bearing in mind you do want to taste the sage.

While the bread’s toasting, get a griddle pan on, sear some thinly sliced pancetta on both sides, cook the cut-side of the fig in the glorious fat that came out of the pancetta – and you’re done!

Fig crostini with pancetta & sage ricotta

Lay the toast on a plate or fancy marble platter like mine, drizzle over some virgin olive oil, slap on the ricotta, fig and pancetta as artistically as you like, drizzle over a little more oil if you like – then shove it down your gob.

Feel free to garnish with leaves and dried chilli.

Oh, and I served mine with cooked and uncooked pancetta – just to mix up the textures a bit.

Fig crostini with pancetta & sage ricotta

Print Recipe
Fig & pancetta crostini with sage ricotta
A few simple yet tasty ingredients result in this delicious breakfast or brunch crostini.
Fig crostini with pancetta & sage ricotta
Fig crostini with pancetta & sage ricotta
  1. Toss a good scoop of ricotta into a bowl and stir some thinly sliced fresh sage, virgin olive oil and black pepper through it. As much or as little as you want - bearing in mind you do want to taste the sage.
  2. While the bread's toasting, get a griddle pan on, sear some thinly sliced pancetta on both sides, cook the cut-side of the fig in the glorious fat that came out of the pancetta - and you're done!
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Baked eggs with Mexican chorizo cooked in Pyrolux pyrocast round gratin

Baked eggs with Mexican chorizo

Baked eggs with Mexican chorizo cooked in Pyrolux pyrocast round gratin

Baked eggs have always been a favourite of mine. Dipping a fork into a pan filled with steaming deliciousness, piercing a yolk and watching its golden innards spill out.

It’s up there with being one of the ultimate breakfast indulgences. Not that I’d turn it down at lunch or dinner time, either.

Global knives Sai series 19 cm Santoku knife sai-03

My homemade Mexican chorizo has been a close friend lately, making its way into a bunch of dishes I knock together at home. Such a versatile ingredient, especially since a certain spice mix now has permanent residency in my spice cupboard.

I guess what I’ve made here isn’t far off huevos rancheros – only sans the refried beans, peppers and Mexican-style rice. What I love is that it’s all pretty much in the one pan. The spiced meat, the eggs and those glorious crispy bits of tortilla poking out the sides.

The cooked meat filling is perfectly fine on toasted chunks of bread, as well – like savoury mince with loads more spice and flavour. A fried egg on top crowns it perfectly.

But you already knew that, right?

* Pyrocast Round Gratins supplied by Pyrolux and Santoku Knife supplied by Global Knives

Baked eggs with Mexican chorizo recipe

Baked eggs with Mexican chorizo cooked in Pyrolux pyrocast round gratin


Print Recipe
Baked eggs with Mexican chorizo
These baked eggs with Mexican chorizo are sure to put a bounce into your morning.
Baked eggs with Mexican chorizo cooked in Pyrolux pyrocast round gratin
Cuisine Mexican
Smashed avocado
Cuisine Mexican
Smashed avocado
Baked eggs with Mexican chorizo cooked in Pyrolux pyrocast round gratin
  1. Start the recipe 1 day before serving. Combine the beef mince and Mexican spice, mixing very well with your hand. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Heat a skillet over a medium-high flame. Sauté the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes, or until opaque. Add the chopped green chilli and the mince, breaking up the meat as it cooks. You don't want any big chunks of mince so keep chopping and mixing it around until it's no longer pink and is cooked through.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes, mix for a few minutes until it has softened. Season to taste then toss through the chopped coriander.
  4. Preheat the oven grill to high and adjust the rack to about 12 cm below the grill.
  5. If you're making one large pan of baked eggs, decant the cooked mince into a large bowl, scraping everything out. Lay the tortillas into the skillet (don't wash it out), allowing the tortillas to come up the sides and above the edges.
  6. If you're making 4 individual portions, lightly oil gratin trays and lay the tortillas into them. Scoop the cooked meat and any juices into the gratins, spreading it evenly. Using the back of a spoon, make hollows in the centre (or evenly spaced if you're making one large one).
  7. Crack an egg into each hollow, scatter over as much or as little grated cheese onto the mince as you wish, then place beneath the grill. Grill until the eggs are nearly cooked, yet the yolk is still runny.
  8. Meanwhile, scoop the avocado flesh into a mixing bowl. Smash it roughly, crumble over the feta and mix through the lemon juice and mint. Season with freshly milled black pepper.
  9. Serve the baked eggs and mince while still hot, with a good scoop of smashed avocado.
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Cheese, leek & sucuk toast - chasseur sun grill duck egg blue

Cheese, leek & sucuk toastie

Cheese, leek & sucuk toast

Five years ago I fell in love.

There we were wandering about the Borough Market in London when I spotted a cabinet stacked with ready-to-cook cheese sandwiches. Poilâne sourdough, Montgomery Cheddar, Ogleshield, leek, onion and garlic. Such a delightful collection of ingredients.

Snaking away from the small vendor was a constant line of hungry punters, waiting their turn to bite into cheesy nirvana. I had to join them. Wise move as the line of people grew to about 15, and every time the aroma of the toasting sandwiches hit me I knew I was in for something special.

Cheese, leek & sucuk toastie recipe

The first bite wasn’t the most pleasant. That bubbling cheese burned my lips, but I couldn’t stop. This thing was freaking amazing! The combination of cheeses was so sharp and delicious, slightly mellowed by the leek and onion mixture.

It’s taken several years, but I’ve made my own version of this toastie. I stuck by the sharp aged cheddar idea as it’s this that really makes the sandwich shine. To ramp the flavours even more I’ve thrown in some beautiful Turkish sucuk.

I adore it every time I have it in restaurants. It’s heavily spiced and intensely aromatic, but the problem is that it’s only available at specialty suppliers; most of which are too far from home.

Then I remembered the MFC Supermarket in Rosebery. Close enough to home and they stock it constantly.

Cheese, leek & sucuk toastie recipe

Cheese, leek & sucuk toastie - Chasseur sun grill duck egg blue

I’ve gone the old fashioned route and toasted the sandwiches in a pan. No sandwich press in this household, you see, so a griddle pan did the trick perfectly. Lots of sizzle, lots of cheesy smoke, a gentle flip and a little more sizzle.

I cooked the slices of sucuk on the pan first. Not only does it grease it up when the oil releases from the sausage, but the delicious oil soaks into the bread when it’s time to do the sandwiches.

Hello flavour!

*Duck egg blue Sun Grill supplied by Chasseur

Cheese, leek & sucuk toastie - chasseur sun grill duck egg blue


Print Recipe
Cheese, leek & sucuk toastie
Not your average cheese toastie - this one will seriously rock your palate.
Cheese, leek & sucuk toast - chasseur sun grill duck egg blue
Cheese, leek & sucuk toast - chasseur sun grill duck egg blue
  1. Heat a skillet over medium flame and sauté the leek in the olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the garlic, a pinch of salt, and continue cooking until soft and opaque. Set aside.
  2. Lay two slices of the bread on a board and divide the cooked leek evenly over each slice. Season with lots of cracked black pepper. Top the leek with half of the grated cheese.
  3. Heat a griddle pan over medium-high and cook the sucuk on both sides. Lay the sucuk over the grated cheese on each half of the sandwich, top with the remaining cheese, then lay the other slice of bread on top.
  4. Lightly butter the top of the sandwich, carefully flip over and butter the other slice.
  5. Gently lay the filled sandwiches onto the hot griddle, pressing down gently with a spatula. After a couple of minutes, or when golden on the underside, use the spatula to turn the sandwich over to cook the other side.
  6. If you want, you can scatter more grated cheese over the cooked sandwiches and put them beneath a grill until bubbling and golden.
  7. Serve immediately with caperberries or pickles.
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Romanesco cauliflower recipe

Romanesco & soya bean bruschetta

Romanesco cauliflower recipe

Here we are revisiting a vegetable that I consider to be one of the most beautiful around. My previous encounter with it involved a bit of spicy heat, some crunch from fried capers and almonds, with pops of colour from pomegranate and native Australian riberries.

What I’ve created here is another play on colours, textures and flavours. There’s nothing like mixing things up, right?

I’ve kept things on vegetarian side with this one, although some crumbled crispy prosciutto would take it to another level.

Romanesco cauliflower recipe

My freezer has a bag of soya beans in it pretty much year-round. Handy to have, really, tossed into stews and curries, quickly pan-fried with some bacon; they’re quite the resourceful ingredient. All I’ve done is make a simple purée with the soya beans; nothing too glamorous as I didn’t want it to compete with the other layers.

That stash of beet & blueberry chutney I made recently came in use with many things I knocked together in the kitchen – namely with meaty concoctions, mind you.

I’ve topped the purée with the chutney, then crowned it with wedges of the gorgeous Romanesco that I’ve briefly steamed and pan-seared with spices. There’s crunch, there’s salt, there’s sweet and there’s sour. A great little canapé idea, as well!

Romanesco cauliflower recipe

Romanesco cauliflower recipe

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Romanesco & soya bean bruschetta with beet & blueberry chutney
These romanesco & soya bean briskets are the perfect for brunch, lunch or made in miniature as a canapé!
Romanesco cauliflower recipe
Romanesco cauliflower recipe
  1. Bring a small pot of water to the boil. Carefully toss in the soya beans and boil for 8 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Place the warm soya beans, water and ground coriander into a jug or small bowl. Using a stick blender, blitz them into a smooth paste. Check for seasoning and set aside.
  2. Steam the wedges of romanesco for 8 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  3. Place a small skillet over medium-low heat. Toast the cumin and mustard seeds until golden and aromatic. Do not burn! Put the spices and pinch of salt into a mortar, and pound to a powder using the pestle. Alternatively use a spice grinder.
  4. Place a large skillet over medium heat, add the oil and carefully lay the wedges of Romanesco into the oiled pan, turning over to coat both cut sides. Immediately sprinkle over a little of the spice-salt mixture, turning when the underside is golden. Sprinkle over a little more of the spice-salt. Set aside as you toast your bread.
  5. Lightly oil the bread and either grill or griddle it, until toasted.
  6. To assemble, spread the soya bean mixture over the toasted baguette, top with the chutney, then the cauliflower. Garnish with a few sprigs of chervil, a few blueberries and soya beans.
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