Posts Tagged ‘Aguas Calientes’

Restaurant Pizzeria Bar (Aguas Calientes, Peru)

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 by virginia

After we took the bus down from Machu Picchu, we decided to grab a quick lunch before we had to catch our train to Cusco. The main square is right by the bus station in town so we went there to look for a place to eat. There are lots of restaurants to choose from, but there are always people standing outside each restaurant waving menus around, trying to get you to go in. It’s kind of annoying because we wanted to look at menus first before we decided where to eat, and it was hard when you’re constantly being accosted by people trying to get you to go in. We ended up deciding on pizza, so we actually went into the only restaurant where no one bothered us. I’m not sure exactly what the name of this restaurant was, as the sign above the door just said Restaurant/Pizzeria/Bar.

If you’re facing the fountain and the Inca statues in the square, the restaurant is to the right, in the middle of the row of restaurants. It’s on the ground level, with balconies overhead. We sat just outside the restaurant, still in the shade but we enjoyed the fresh air. We toasted our success in climbing Huayna Picchu with a few Cusquena beers, which were cold and refreshing.

There were lots of different pizzas to choose from, and some of the combination of toppings sounded pretty interesting. We ended up choosing, appropriately enough, the Machu Picchu pizza, which was topped with sauce, ham, chorizo, hearts of palm, oregano, and cheese. The first pizza they brought us, however, was not what we ordered, though we didn’t figure that out until after we each taken a bite of our slices. Oops! They had given us a veggie pizza by mistake, which had peppers and onions on it. We probably should have realized right away because there were peppers and no meat, but we thought maybe the meat would be underneath all the cheese. They were really nice about the mix-up though, and let us finish eating our slices while they fired up the correct pizza for us.

Veggie pizza with peppers and onions

We could definitely see the meat on our new pie, which had thin slices of chorizo and lots of pieces of ham strewn on top. There were also long strips of hearts of palm, which I thought was an intriguing pizza topping. I like hearts of palm in salad, but it didn’t seem like something I’d put on pizza. It actually added a nice crunch and a bit of tanginess that helped cut through the saltiness of the chorizo and the richness of the cheese. It was a good combination of flavors.

Machu Picchu pizza with sauce, ham, chorizo, hearts of palm, oregano, and cheese

There was definitely a lot of cheese on the pizza, though not a lot of tomato sauce. They were also pretty heavy handed with the oregano, as the top of the pizza was just covered in green flecks. Flavor wise it was pretty subtle though, so I didn’t mind all the herbs on top.

Lots of cheese and oregano on each slice

The crust was a bit thicker than the pizza crust at Inka Wasi but it had good flavor to it. I don’t know if it was baked with eucalyptus leaves but I thought it tasted a little floral. There wasn’t much charring on the bottom but it was still slightly crispy.

Underside shot

Overall we liked the pizza at this unnamed pizzeria. It’s definitely a low key joint, not as polished as Inka Wasi in terms of atmosphere and decor, and the menu wasn’t as refined. There was a lot of variety on the menu though, and the location couldn’t be beat. We were right on the main square and could people watch. It would be a nice place to hang out in the afternoon for a drink and some snacks. Prices were pretty reasonable, as our medium sized pie with all those toppings cost 32 soles, or about US$12. I’m not sure how helpful I’m being since I can’t give you the name or the exact address of the restaurant, but if you’re really interested in going just look for the Restaurant/Pizzeria/Bar sign on the side of the plaza closest to the bus station – it’s not too hard to find!

Restaurant Pizzeria Bar
Aguas Calientes, Peru

Inka Wasi (Aguas Calientes, Peru)

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 by virginia

By the time we got to our hotel after spending the day at Machu Picchu, we were pretty exhausted so we knew that if we settled in, we would probably fall asleep and end up not eating dinner. Because we had a grueling hike planned for the next day and would be leaving the hotel before breakfast, we knew that we couldn’t afford to skip another meal so we forced ourselves to leave our room. We stopped in at the hotel bar first to get our free welcome drink, a Pisco Sour. We hadn’t had any since Lima so I had forgotten that I actually really liked them. After chatting with the bartender, he told us to eat at Inka Wasi, the restaurant across the street from our hotel, because they had good pizzas.

When Josh and I saw pizzerias all over Peru, we were sort of confused but figured that they catered to tourists. Our guide in the Sacred Valley told us that Peruvian pizza was actually different from other pizzas because they are cooked over eucalyptus leaves, which impart a unique flavor to the crust. That actually sounded pretty interesting to us so we decided to try it out. Once again we weren’t too hungry so we decided to split a medium pizza (which was still pretty small) and a chicken entree. After we placed our order, they brought us some garlic bread to munch on while we waited for our food.

Garlic bread

The bread was pretty standard but tasty, and it was cooked in the same oven as the pizza so it had a nice crunch and smokey flavor to it. While we were enjoying the bread, someone set off firecrackers right outside the window where we were sitting, which scared the crap out of us. Turns out it was the start of a rally for someone who was running for mayor. A crowd of people were marching down the main street of the town carrying balloons and signs, playing drums, and generally just making a lot of noise by chanting and setting off more firecrackers. It was pretty intense and the parade of people walking by on their way to the main square lasted for a good 15 minutes.

Huge crowd of people headed to a political rally in the town square

After all the excitement passed, we turned our attention back to our food. The pizza we chose was the restaurant’s namesake, Inka Wasi. It was basically a meat lover’s pie, topped with ham, chorizo, pepperoni, and chicken.

Inka Wasi pizza topped with ham, chorizo, pepperoni, and chicken

There was a lot of cheese on the pizza I don’t think there was any sauce. If there was, it was undetectable. The toppings were pretty bountiful, with the chorizo and pepperoni adding some spice and tanginess to the pizza. There was also a lot of oregano sprinkled on top that gave it a distinctive taste.

Slice close up

The crust was pretty thin, almost cracker-like around the edges, though the middle was slightly chewier. The pizza oven was very close to where we were sitting so we watched the chef make them. The crusts were actually pre-made flatbreads that he would put the cheese and toppings on. I was worried about the crust being pre-made but I actually wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference because it wasn’t overcooked or dried out. The eucalyptus leaves burning in the oven did give it a slight floral flavor, but it was very subtle. If I hadn’t known beforehand I probably wouldn’t have guessed eucalyptus.

Underside shot

The chicken we got was pollo a la plancha, meaning it was grilled. I don’t know why we were expecting something exciting so we were pretty disappointed with what arrived, which was just a piece of plain chicken breast accompanied by some rice, potatoes, and sauteed veggies.

Grilled chicken breast with potatoes, rice, and veggies

Surprisingly, however, the chicken was pretty tasty – very flavorful and moist. I’m always astonished by how much better chicken tastes in other countries. It’s not just a boring white meat, it actually tastes like a bird. It was well prepared too; tender, juicy, and well seasoned. The sides were decent but plain. The potatoes were fried on the outside and soft on the inside, reminding me of fried yuca. The sauteed vegetables were buttery but standard.

Overall we were pretty happy with the food at Inka Wasi. The pizza was really tasty and the chicken was cooked perfectly. Service was super friendly and efficient. It’s no wonder the restaurant was hopping when we first arrived. There was a 30 minute wait for a table so we ended up taking a stroll and doing a little shopping to kill some time. Price-wise it was a bit expensive for Peru, more on par with NYC prices. The pizza, which was about the size of a large dinner plate, was 42 soles, or US$16. To be fair, there were a lot of toppings on it. The chicken was 33 soles, or US$12, which is not bad. We also had a few Cusquena beers so our total after tax and tip was S/129, or US$48. Certainly not a bargain but we enjoyed our meal thoroughly. I would definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in Aguas Calientes. The seats near the window are great for people watching!

Inka Wasi
Pachacutec 112
Aguas Calientes, Peru