The type of late night snack that resides mainly in your street food day dreams – this Peruvian meat skewer treat goes by the name of ‘Anticuchos de Corazon.’
When you’re in the capital city of Peru, this is one meal you can’t possibly afford to miss.
In this article, you’ll see one of Lima’s legendary street food grill masters (‘Doña Manuela), and enough photos that (hopefully) you’re immediately checking the internet for the next direct flight available, right to the heart of Peru.
Scroll down now for all the details.
Lima’s Best Street Food
One thing I can never forget about travel in Peru is how much the people of Peru just can’t wait to share food with you!
If you ever dream of traveling to eat Peru’s Best Street Food, you’d better prepare your itinerary to be full of friendly local people filling you to the brim with the tastiest street food you could ever want to find.
Anticuchos – (Usually) Beef Heart
Anticuchos is a meal that absolutely shines when its teaching you about all the delicious bites that exist in lesser-known selections of meat (they’ll usually make it with Beef Heart), which really are the tastiest bites of meat you’ll find in all the ‘normal’ food animals out there.
If you and I were traveling together to Peru just to eat, it shouldn’t surprise you at all when I plan to head straight from the airport, right to the streets of Lima, searching for our first Lima bites of the deliciously beefy “Anticuchos de Corazon.”
Watch the full video including all of Lima’s Best Street Food right here – Mark Wiens, on YouTube
Specialty Skewers with Doña Manuela
Doña Manuela is a street food grilling legend, in control of some of Lima’s best street food – she definitely influences the hearts (and stomachs) of anyone who ever visits her here – these are going to be bites of meat worth traveling for, even worth fighting for (I’m kidding… almost).
Her grill experience is obvious, and instantly apparent, when you see all of the hungry smiles from people standing in line.
Doña Manuela and her beef heart skewers have won over generations of supporters, both locals and travellers alike, and it would be a mistake to not make a mini-pilgrimage to Miraflores to have a beef heart mini-feast for yourself.
Your Welcome and Reward
Eating local food is definitely one of the best reasons to visit Peru, and as recently as May 2019, I can quite comfortably name Lima as a world street food Champion destination.
Let’s eat some Anticuchos!
Grilling the tastiest beef heart skewer imaginable, Doña Manuela is here every night in Lima. In Spanish, the dish you want is ‘Anticuchos de Corazón.’
“Corazón” means ‘heart,’ and while there are many other meats that chefs use to make ‘anticuchos,’ this is definitely the most common in Lima.
Its what you immediately need to eat when you’re here.
*Doña Manuela usually sets up just after dark, and by the time her grill is hot, I guarantee every item will already have someone waiting for it – get excited, and get there early (we arrived at about 8pm), and please tell us in the comments down below about your own experience of the Best Street Food in Lima!
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Immediate First Step
When you arrive, make sure she knows you want an order of ‘Anticuchos de Corazon’ (the line grows in a hurry).
Once you get a nod from the chef though, you’ve assured your place in line. Now you’re free to relax, take a walk around… I’m totally kidding, my own hands are shaking already the atmosphere here is so awesome.
Until that skewer is in your hands, you won’t want to walk anywhere else!
While you wait, just enjoy her grilling set-up, it has to be one of the coolest designs for street food I’ve ever seen (next photo).
Ultimate Street Food Grill Construction
She has a one-of-a-kind grill construction, and it perfectly suits her coal-power grilling and frying meat-creations.
It is almost like a full-size workman’s toolbox – but with the inside trays full of fire – and on top, she covers it not with oil, but with squirts of flavor and meaty juices.
Just barely squeezing in around all these sizzling and oily hunks of meat, her husband steps in to quickly clean the grill from time to time, then steps back for more rounds of ‘anticuchos.’
The Beef Hearts Sell Out Fast
Of course Doña Manuela makes plans to feed as many as she can – but for all those who know her, there’s just one main item on their mind – if you don’t make it though, she also has chicken, and wow if her special sauce blends aren’t out of this world with flavor… but trust me when I say that its beef that you’re coming here to eat.
If you haven’t already, check out the video on YouTube here (link). This will give you a great sense of the awesome late-night atmosphere that surrounds Señora Manuela’s street food.
Miraflores for Anticuchos
Smoke is literally pouring up in a column, and my eyes can’t actually focus on much else at the moment. Besides the glowing charcoal, I can hear only the sizzle of oil, and of course the rumble of a few hungry stomachs, including (but definitely not limited to) my own.
We are in Miraflores, not far from downtown Lima, Peru, scroll down now for our first bites of Anticuchos!
How To Eat Anticuchos
Of course you need one bite of pure beef heart, no sauce, just beef, as soon as your own tray is ready.
Setting it down on the small bar she has built right into her grill-cart, its so great seeing Señora Doña Manuela just stepping back with a knowing smile.
Take your first bite of meat, feeling how incredibly soft this heart is – the meat has an amazingly firm but juicily tender consistency, and as there are no bones in it, its the same tenderness all the way through.
Its smoky, full of charcoal aroma, but the piece I got was without even a single singe of blackness – she truly watches every piece with an eagle eye, each one was perfectly presented and cooked only to medium-rare.
Beef Heart Consistency is Incredible
She understands this specific meat consistency so well, and every bite is definitely a Peruvian treat.
When you come back from your quick trip to street-food lovers’ mental happy-place, reach for a sauce to dip your next bite.
The Aji Is Loaded With Creamy Flavor
She has an amazing yellow aji sauce, a creamy and sour paste that in Peru includes lime juice and aji amarillo.
This is the classic topping, and it should always be your first choice for ‘anticuchos’ (and here’s a great recipe to make your own).
There is also a version with mayonnaise, and sour cream, and also different types of spicy chili pepper as well as the aji amarillo. There is also some black pepper, and with that lime juice topping off the recipe so well – this is truly a sauce of dreams.
She may have other sauces, but the one containing the ‘holy trinity‘ of Peruvian cuisine definitely sounds like the correct pairing for your beefy heart skewers.
Find your own favourite ratio, combine (or totally engulf your next bite in sauce), and enjoy.
‘Choncholí’ for Round Two
When you are finishing off your first skewers of beef heart, I’m sure you will already be thinking “how can I continue this meat-grill madness absolutely as long as possible?”
Order your second round, I recommend ‘Choncholí’ is a great next choice.
They have many names throughout South and Central America,* but these tiny bites of crispy, oily intestine are definitely a crucial part of Peru’s late-night street-food magic.
Perfect Partner to Anticuchos
The 1-2 inch chopped bits of small intestine are rubbery on the inside, but so crunchy on the outside (again, her grilling expertise!).
They are slightly oily, but nicely dense as well, and taste amazing with the red chili dip full of green onions and tomato.
*In Latin America, Chunchullo is a favorite, and as you move deeper into South America you will eat Chunchulla, Chinchurria or Chunchurria… or Chunchulines if they are small and/or of cute size. Many names, but its the all the same deliciously useful part (the small intestines), and one that I’m sure you will learn to appreciate after your own visit to this wonderful part of our world. I am honestly missing it just after finishing that last sentence…
Peruvian Street-Meat Dreams
Hunching over a sizzling tray, its now 11pm on the open streets of Lima. The time is right for you to enjoy the better part of an entire grill of Peruvian anticuchos. Hanging out with Doña Manuela here in Miraflores… all is good in the world.
Tasty skewers of chicken are a ‘nice way to spend an evening,’ but these are not your average meats.
If you’re anything like me, then your evening dinner dreams see people throwing elbows, working hard for a spot among Lima’s late-night street food eaters.
One thing you have to realize though, is that after a visit here, you may never be able to look at ‘normal’ meat the same way ever again (Chapli Kebabs sound familiar?).
In a country with such enormous history, and a truly stunning array of landscapes, its a joyful experience also learning about amazing Peruvian food that locals usually can’t wait to show you, wherever you go in Peru.
Arriving here in Lima though, its all about the street food – and right here might be an entire trip worth of things to do, all on its own.
I’ll include a ton of links throughout this article (link here), and more the location information down below as well.
Here’s a link to Dona Manuela’s Facebook page, where you can read about more information all in in Spanish.
Also, be sure to check out our friend Timour’s excellent video of this day, he does a great job capturing what its like to spend 14 hours exploring all the gorgeous amounts of street food we could find on an Ultimate day of street food in Lima (Timour is French, and makes great videos both in Spanish (and English!)).
DO NOT Visit Lima Without Eating Anticuchos
While many travelers do arrive at the Lima airport, most head on fairly quickly to other areas in Peru.
Lima is a very popular point of transit on the way to an Incan Andes high-altitude trek (hopefully to eat Pachamanca), or for an attempt to track down local medicine gurus (when they should really be on food missions for Cuy).
Not nearly enough people are actually exploring what the hugely delicious capital city of Lima has to offer.
Allow me to recommend at least one day where you plan yourself a massive local Lima Street Food tour.
Its with loving disbelief that I remember the diversity in Lima’s local street food.
Back Story – Our Trip to Lima, in May 2019
I am so happy with the 6 full days we have here, hopefully to eat as much as Lima has to offer.
Of course we all want to stay longer, but there’s already one thing we know for sure – exploring Lima’s huge world of street food options for yourself is definitely a correct travel-decision when you visit Peru.
You’ll find the most extremely local and traditional Peruvian foods you could ever dream of (try ‘tocosh‘ as a street snack), as well as a few days where you can learn about modern Peru through its food.
Of all these delicious items worth traveling just to eat though, for today I wan’t to remind you – there can’t be anything that’s more deliciously ‘Lima’ for late-night eaters than feasting with Dona Manuela’s on her delicious Peruvian Anticuchos.