Inside the restaurant in Peru that has been named the world’s best


‘Central’ restaurant in Lima, Peru, has earned the title of the World’s Best Restaurant 2023 – and incredible new YouTube footage reveals what it’s like to dine there.

It was shot by Alexander Varga, the co-owner of one-Michelin-starred restaurant ’42’ in Esztergom, Hungary, who describes eating at Central, which is set in a beautiful botanic garden, as ‘an adventure that will warm your soul’.

Central doesn’t have a Michelin star – its inspectors don’t cover Peru – but Alexander has eaten at over 50 three-star restaurants and tells MailOnline Travel that it ‘certainly deserves the title of world’s best’. So, if they ever get there, three stars could well be on the cards.

Alexander’s fascinating video explains that the philosophy of Central’s chefs – Virgilio Martinez and wife Pia Leon – is to present courses that each showcase a Peruvian ecosystem at a specific altitude.

‘The menu is really something to marvel at,’ Alexander says.

'Central' restaurant in Lima, Peru, has earned the title of the World's Best Restaurant 2023 ¿ and incredible new YouTube footage reveals what it's like to dine there. It was shot by Alexander Varga, the co-owner of one-Michelin-starred restaurant '42' in Esztergom, Hungary. Above is a shrimp bisque with squash and avocado served to Alexander in Central

‘Central’ restaurant in Lima, Peru, has earned the title of the World’s Best Restaurant 2023 – and incredible new YouTube footage reveals what it’s like to dine there. It was shot by Alexander Varga, the co-owner of one-Michelin-starred restaurant ’42’ in Esztergom, Hungary. Above is a shrimp bisque with squash and avocado served to Alexander in Central

Vegetarian piranhas are served, along with some of the nuts and plants they eat

Vegetarian piranhas are served, along with some of the nuts and plants they eat

Alexander (above, at Central) has eaten at over 50 three-star restaurants

Alexander (above, at Central) has eaten at over 50 three-star restaurants

The dishes are crafted using 180 ingredients, with around half of them unknown.

Some of them are presented on a huge stone table at the entrance, with Alexander revealing that ‘each one is grown and cultivated by Chef Virgilio and his team’.

‘He cooks food that belongs to his land and people,’ he says.

The 14-course ‘Altitudes’ tasting menu on offer costs 250 euros (£215/$273), with drink pairings that cost from 50 (£43/$54) to 115 euros (£99/$126).

Alexander opts for the local spirits and wines pairing and then begins his culinary odyssey.

Dishes include Peruvian potatoes grown on trees – called ‘flying potatoes’ – served with a coriander dipping sauce; bites made with seaweed, clams and squid; algae from a mountain lake; vegetarian piranhas served with some of the nuts and plants they feed on, and wine poured from a clay bottle.

He describes the flavours he experiences as ‘out of this world’. 

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The dishes are crafted using 180 ingredients, with around half of them unknown. Some of them are presented on a huge stone table at the entrance (above)

The dishes are crafted using 180 ingredients, with around half of them unknown. Some of them are presented on a huge stone table at the entrance (above)

Above are bites made with seaweed, clams and squid

Above are bites made with seaweed, clams and squid

Alexander describes the flavours he experiences as 'out of this world'

Alexander describes the flavours he experiences as ‘out of this world’

Did the restaurant live up to the hype of ‘world’s best’?

Alexander told MailOnline Travel: ‘Absolutely. Actually, it exceeded the hype, and my expectations too.

‘I obviously watched some content about it, and had a picture in my head, but when I was there, it was something else. Peaceful, elevated, an almost church-like feeling filled with exciting and unknown things to discover.

‘I don’t even look at it as going to a restaurant. I went to a philosophy workshop. And for me, that beats everything.

‘The “best in the world” thing is an interesting subject. In my humble opinion, there’s no such thing. Most of the world’s top-tier restaurants are no better than the others. Central isn’t better than the others, but it is different.

‘I thought about it a lot, and I always ask this question: “If I die tomorrow, which restaurant would be the one where I’d go back right now?” Everyone would have different answers, and all of them would be “The Best”. But obviously if we consider the fact that there are objective aspects, which we base the No.1 choice on, then yes, I’d say right now Central absolutely deserves the title.’

One of the natural wines Alexander tries at Central is poured from a clay 'bottle'

One of the natural wines Alexander tries at Central is poured from a clay ‘bottle’

Pictured above is a waiter serving Alexander what looks like caviar but is actually algae from a mountain lake

Pictured above is a waiter serving Alexander what looks like caviar but is actually algae from a mountain lake

Peruvian tree-grown potatoes were served with a coriander dipping sauce

Peruvian tree-grown potatoes were served with a coriander dipping sauce

How does Central compare to three-Michelin-star restaurants Alexander has been to?

He says: ‘I’ve been in at least 50 three-star restaurants, and each of them is different in some ways. But at the end of the day it is a high-end restaurant, and in that aspect, it doesn’t really differ. 

‘It has extremely professional service and staff, a stellar kitchen and super-talented people in it, so things you can usually say about the world’s best restaurants. But with these tools, Central tells – in my humble opinion – a unique story and they have a different mission. And that’s what makes them different.’

Bloomin' marvellous: Central is set in a botanical garden

Bloomin’ marvellous: Central is set in a botanical garden 

Alexander says of his visit to Central: 'Peaceful, elevated, an almost church-like feeling filled with exciting and unknown things to discover'

Alexander says of his visit to Central: ‘Peaceful, elevated, an almost church-like feeling filled with exciting and unknown things to discover’

What does he think the secret to the success of the restaurant is?

Alexander says: ‘If I had to highlight something, I’d say the people. I saw the passion and joy in everyone there. It was more like an obsession in a good way. They really believe in what they do, and it’s honest. They are loyal to the roots of Peru and its people, and this unconsciously (or consciously) creates magic.’

And the part of the trip that was most memorable?

Alexander reveals that it was actually his visit to Chef Virgilio’s food lab and interpretation centre – ‘Mil’ – located at an altitude of 3,568m (11,706ft) in the Andes, near the famous Moray ruins.

Here visitors can see for themselves how food for Central is researched and cultivated.

Alexander said: ‘It was uplifting to see how a modern restaurant in a modern world becomes a bridge between the new and old generation. I saw how they draw from the wisdom of the past with respect and humility. This kind of respect is really rare today. The whole place and all the people radiated a really good vibe, and I was under its effect for a good while.’

For more fascinating foodie videos from Alexander visit www.youtube.com/@alexandertheguest and follow him on Instagram at www.instagram.com/alexandertheguest and on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@alexandertheguest. Follow his restaurant on Instagram at www.instagram.com/42restaurant. Click here for the Central video.





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