Finding (Culinary) Love in Callao

11/8/2019

Just nine miles west of Lima’s historic center sits the seaside city of Callao. It’s home to Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport, and is Peru’s primary seaport. But lately, Callao has been getting noticed for something besides transportation and shipping—food.

In fact, one of the city’s can’t-miss attractions these days is the Ruta del Callao gastro tour. The four-hour tour visits 4-5 establishments selected from a repertoire of 30 restaurants, stalls and food trucks. The tour is the brainchild of Callao social entrepreneur Andres Ugaz, who launched it in 2016.

One of the most popular stops on the Ruta del Callao is Freddy Ramirez’s Combi Roja (red van). Ramirez could be considered the Father of Callao Foodtrucks, as he has been preparing and selling his legendary ceviche out of the back of his customized van for over 30 years. Ramirez can prepare a ceviche at lightning speed, while diners sit on the “leather” seats in the dining portion of the van. The Combi Roja travels to various spots across Peru, but spends most its time in Callao.

If you didn’t know the Willy Duarte House was there, you’d probably walk right by it. And that would be a shame. Duarte’s grandmother served as cook for the president of Peru in the early 20th century, and Duarte includes many of her recipes on the menu.

El Colorao de Chucuito is owned and operated by Andrés Angeles, a former merchant marine who has developed a full menu of his own dishes. The muchame de atún is layers of dried tuna, served with avocado and olive oil, and swordfish in sea snail sauce.

Another gastro tour favorite is Don Guiseppe’s. Located at the end of La Punta, a scenic peninsula lined with pastel-colored homes, the time-honored eatery is famous for its pan con pejerrey, a crispy fried fish sandwich.

The grand finale of most Ruta del Callao gastro tours is a stop at Kala Tanta, an artisan bakery created by gastro tour-originator Andrés Ugaz and his wife Gaby Wuest. The bakery employs young people who otherwise might be at risk, and as such is helping to tackle the issues of crime and youth unemployment in the Callao community.

While the Lima restaurant scene has gained international recognition, a short trip over to Callao can prove equally rewarding to virtually any palate.

If you’d like to taste the wonders of Peruvian cuisine, and the Ruta del Callao offerings, check out the discounted trips below.