Huanchaco & Trujillo Eats – Northern Coast Peruvian Fare

The northern coast of Peru is known for its eats and as I stopped in my last area before I head to the big city of Lima, I intended to shove in all the seafood I could.  There was a lot of ceviche had as well as other scremingly fresh seafood.  The beachside town of Huanchaco meant prices were inflated for tourists, so a stop into Trujillo was a cheaper alternative.

A throwback from the last city, I finally saw fresh manta rays being sold along the beach.  Chiclayo is famous for their manta ray omelettes (tortilla de raya).

A throwback from the last city, I finally saw fresh manta rays being sold along the beach. Chiclayo is famous for their manta ray omelettes (tortilla de raya).

The crabs famous in this area.  The most well known dish is cangrejo reventado.  The crabs are smashed then cooked with eggs, chile and seaweed.  They remind me of Malaysian chili crabs in the best way.

The crabs famous in this area. The most well known dish is cangrejo reventado. The crabs are smashed then cooked with eggs, chile and seaweed. They remind me of Malaysian chili crabs in the best way.

Before I start with the seafood, there was good street food.  My first meal was a papa relleno, a fried mashed potato football full of eggs, olives and other bits.  This is an anticucho of beef heart.  It's a meaty skewer that is served with spicy seasoning and a creamy sauce.

Before I start with the seafood, there was good street food. My first meal was a papa relleno, a fried mashed potato football full of eggs, olives and other bits. This is an anticucho of beef heart. It’s a meaty skewer that is served with spicy seasoning and a creamy sauce.

The first ceviche I had in Huanchaco was actually a tiradito.  Raw fish mixed with lime and chiles topped with a chile based sauce.

The first ceviche I had in Huanchaco was actually a tiradito. Raw fish mixed with lime and chiles topped with a chile based sauce.

There was advice online to try the cream ceviches.  I think the yellow sauce is a tiradito like set up again and I found the left too overly creamy and overwhelming.

There was advice online to try the cream ceviches. I think the yellow sauce is a tiradito like set up again and I found the left too overly creamy and overwhelming.

Restaurants along the beach strand can be found selling deals for an acceptable small meal, ceviche and tiny soda.  Not a bad deal for one as most places served for two or more.

Restaurants along the beach strand can be found selling deals for an acceptable small meal, ceviche and tiny soda. Not a bad deal for one as most places served for two or more.

The most popular cola in Peru is not Coca Cola, it is Inca Kola.  So Coca Cola bought them.  I find it overly sweet but it's supposed to be a hierba luisa flavored drink.

The most popular cola in Peru is not Coca Cola, it is Inca Kola. So Coca Cola bought them. I find it overly sweet but it’s supposed to be a hierba luisa flavored drink.

Escaping to Trujillo I went to Mar Picante to have an even more reasonably priced parihuela, something like a Peruvian bouillabaisse.  That would be beans cooked in leche de tigre (ceviche juice) and a chicha morada (purple corn drink) above.

Escaping to Trujillo I went to Mar Picante to have an even more reasonably priced parihuela, something like a Peruvian bouillabaisse. That would be beans cooked in leche de tigre (ceviche juice) and a chicha morada (purple corn drink) above.

Huanchaco did indeed have many tasty eats but many disappointments too.  The oft recommended El Caribe that I went to for cangrejo reventado (the crab) was more expensive than it should’ve been and did not have seaweed in its crab.  It was also creepily entirely empty, but perhaps I was there too early.  I also attempted to go to former legend Mococho multiple times.  It was closed on all the weekdays I went and I finally found it open on a Sunday.  Instead of the two questions “how hungry are you” and “spicy or not spicy?” leading to an amazing omakase like experience, I got an exasperated older woman who didn’t know what to do with single, alone me in an empty restaurant.  “We usually serve whole fish, but you… you are… alone!”  She ended up serving me a fish fillet with a greasy nut based sauce and a half assed garnish.  The lone good thing was her friendly son playing The Cure and other 80s rock .  I also attempted to go to El Mochica, a famous criollo food restaurant to try Monday-only shambar or pigeon stew pasta but found the Huanchaco location only served the same old fried seafood and ceviche every other place had at nicer restaurant prices.  Disappointing.  The over twenty year old Don Pepe had been replaced by some surfer pizza place.  It may not have been a culinary knock out but it was solidly good ceviche in many places.

Perhaps the best and most surprising meal may have been the one I stumbled onto at the place I was staying, the McCallum Lodging House.  The place is run by a lovely family that will cook the standard things one expects from a restaurant when they have enough people.  However I sniffed a family meal and nosed in to watch how they were doing it, and they invited me to join them for their clam, pepper & bread based stew. Ah, finally, the home style food that I couldn’t locate in a restaurant if I tried.  This is on top of the good handful of marcianos (think fruit puree otter pops) that I also enjoyed here.  So long Huanchaco, and thanks for all the fish.

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1 comment
  1. riotise said:

    ooh i had that purple corn drink, chicha morada at mo-chica with you once. es bueno.

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