After getting caught in the rain and rushing back to the hotel, we ended up staying in for dinner rather then venturing back out into the town of Urubamba. Our options were pretty limited, just the hotel restaurant, Hawa, or the Lobby Bar. We were pretty tired, not very hungry, and not feeling up for a formal dining experience so we opted for grabbing a casual bite to eat at the bar.
The bar itself was really quite nice, with tall ceilings, interesting lighting pieces, and a beautiful mosaic art piece behind the bar.We had the option of sitting inside or outside but because it was kind of cold out we chose to stay inside where we settled in at one of the many open tables. While there were people drinking and smoking on the terrace, we had the indoor section to ourselves, which I kind of liked because we could chat without bothering anyone.
We were in the mood for wine so Josh selected a bottle of red from Chile. We found that while wine was definitely not cheap in Peru, the South American wines provided more bang for our buck. We could usually get some sort of gran reserva wine for about US$40 a bottle, which isn’t too bad. We ended up drinking a lot of Argentinean malbecs on our trip, which is just fine by me. The Chilean wine we got that night was a variety we had never heard of, carmenere. Apparently it’s related to the cabernet grape family. This wine had a rich, deep flavor that was fruity but not sweet, and a velvety mouth feel. We both took a sip and looked at each other at the same time and said “wow!” While we love to drink wine, we’re not exactly wine connoisseurs (for example, my standard everyday drinking white wine is 3 buck chuck chardonnay). We just like to drink what tastes good, and this definitely fit the bill. Appropriately, it was a “max reserva”, and I took a picture of the bottle so we can look for it here. (Note to self: look for this wine).
In terms of food, I was actually pretty shocked by how expensive the dishes were at this hotel. We looked at both the restaurant menu and the bar menu, and things were pretty much double the most expensive prices we had seen our trip. Lomo saltado, for example, which I found pricey at 35 soles in Puno, was over 70 soles here. I guess it’s understandable considering this was by far the most luxurious hotel we stayed at on our trip, but I found it kind of ironic that it was also the most expensive place even though we were in one of the poorest cities on our trip. The huge difference made me feel a bit guilty. I just hope that our tourist dollars are helping out the people in town!
We really weren’t that hungry so we ended up sharing a shrimp appetizer and a chicken sandwich. After we placed our order, we settled in to snack on the basket of potato chips they brought to us with our wine. Hands down, these were the best potato chips we’ve ever eaten. Freshly cut, sliced super thin, perfectly fried, and well seasoned, these chips were absolutely fantastic. We could see the skin still on the edges, and they were delicately crispy without being greasy. They had the intense potato flavor we found in most Peruvian potatoes, and we could not stop crunching on these awesome chips.
The shrimp appetizer we got was shrimp in a curry, coconut, and cilantro sauce. The shrimp were served three to a skewer, and there were three skewers. We were intrigued by the sauce, which was a great blend of flavors. It was sweet and savory at the same time, and no one component overpowered the others. The shrimp were perfectly cooked so that they were delicate and tender, not tough or chewy. It didn’t seem like a big portion at first but the sauce was rich enough to satisfy our meager appetites.
The chicken sandwich was sort of a random selection on our part but I was in the mood for something simple. Nothing else on the menu really appealed to me, plus it gave me an excuse to be able to eat french fries. The chicken was breaded in panko and served with avocado, lettuce, and tomato on a whole wheat roll. Certainly not very Peruvian or exciting, but it was perfectly cooked and perfectly tasty. The avocado added a nice creaminess and richness so that it didn’t need mayo. The fries on the side were made from assorted potatoes, some more starchy than others. I was super excited when I asked for ketchup and got Heinz. The ketchup I had on the trip so far, whenever I could find it, was always fluorescent pink and watery, not tasting very similar to the ketchup I’m used to. Josh laughed at me because I was so thrilled with the Heinz, but he just doesn’t understand the different nuances because he doesn’t eat ketchup. Personally, I don’t understand how anyone can get through life without eating ketchup. He’s just weird like that.
Overall we both liked the food we got at the Lobby Bar but it was definitely overpriced for what we got. Despite having just an appetizer, a sandwich, and a bottle of wine (albeit a really nice one), the bill was US$70 after tax and tip, or about 200 soles, which made it the third most expensive meal on our whole trip. The shrimp was really tasty though, and the sauce was really an intriguing combination that I wouldn’t mind trying again. The chicken sandwich was standard but well executed. I also loved the fries and potato chips, and the wine was superb. My favorite part though was the company, and the vibe of the bar. We were relaxed and at ease in the low key environment. They kept playing the same music over and over but we didn’t mind, since one of the songs was Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight”, which has special meaning for us. Service was attentive but not overbearing. It could have been easy for them to hover since we were the only people dining inside but they gave us our space and still came promptly whenever we needed anything. I would highly recommend staying at Tambo del Inka, though I’m not sure how expensive (or not) it really is, since everything was booked through our tour company. It’s definitely worth looking into if you plan on staying in the Sacred Valley.
Lobby Bar at Tambo del Inka
Av. Ferrocaril s/n, Valle Sagrado