It takes a few moments for your eyes to adjust to the dimly lit interior of Aventuras Marinas, a restaurant/cevicheria located on Calle Manuel Bonilla in the Miraflores district of Lima. The clinking of cutlery and the wafting aromas of fresh fish, onions and limes fill your senses before your eyes piece together the scene within, of simple wooden tables packed with white-collar workers from the upscale district.
Between midday and 2 pm, this small two-floor restaurant comes alive with hungry patrons. These are regulars: they’ve been here before, they know what they want, and they’ll come again. It’s a good sign, especially when the Peruvian menú is involved. Menús can be a budget traveler’s best friend, but they can also be a near-inedible disgrace to cuisine.
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I’ve begrudgingly forced down countless half-assed menús in Peru, including in Miraflores, so my judgment was very much reserved when I sat down in the vaguely marine-themed Aventuras Marinas. It must be good, I thought, I had to wait 10 minutes for a table and the regulars are too busy eating to talk. Thankfully, the clientele had good reason for making this a favoured lunchtime destination.
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A Cheap and Tasty Lunch in Lima
Pricewise, you can get a starter, a main course and a jug of juice for S/.9 or S/.10 (about US$3.60). To put that into perspective, you’d pay about S/.13 for a Big Mac Meal in the MacDonald’s round the corner on Avenida Larco.
And boy, the grub at Aventuras Marinas is a billion times better than a Big Mac and fries. On my first visit, I ordered a S/.10 combo comprising a steaming chilcano de pescado (fish broth) as a starter and a jalea a la chiclayana (battered and fried seafood) for my main, all washed down with a perfectly-pitched pitcher of chicha morada. Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about.
I went back for lunch the following day. I took a friend the day after. I now go to Aventuras Marinas whenever I’m in Miraflores. I’ve yet to order anything that has left me less than happy.
You’ll normally have a choice of five or six starters and about 26 mains on the day’s menú, as well as more expensive platos a la carta, so there’s no shortage of things to try. Aventuras Marinas, as the name suggests, specialises in fish and shellfish (everything from trout to octopus), but you’ll also find beef, chicken, and bean-and-rice-based dishes such as tacu tacu.
If you like a healthy dose of fishiness, go for the aforementioned chilcano de pescado as a starter. If that’s not a “superfood,” I don’t know what is (it’s good for a hangover, surely a key criterion). The cooks also make a mean causa rellena, as well as a hugely satisfying ceviche starter.
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As for main courses, my current favourite is the picante de mariscos, a mix of shellfish in a mildly spicy sauce (containing, I think, aji panca, among other things). The jalea a la chiclayana is also good, as is the tacu tacu. I even tried the goat, something I normally avoid, and was pleasantly surprised. Basically, Aventuras Marinas is a good place to sample a variety of traditional Peruvian dishes at very affordable prices. You’ll certainly find superior versions of all these dishes in Miraflores, but rarely for S/.10 with a starter included.
There are actually two Aventuras Marinas restaurants (same owner, not a case of someone flagrantly copying names) in Miraflores, both of which are on the same block of Calle Manuel Bonilla. Manuel Bonilla begins off the northern end of Avenida Larco, the main street that runs along the eastern side of Parque Kennedy (if you’re in the park, head to the northern end and cross Larco using the pedestrian crossing — Bonilla will be just in front of you).
Stroll down Manuel Bonilla and you’ll soon pass the first Aventuras Marinas restaurant at Bonilla 130. It’s a decent restaurant, but nowhere near as good as its namesake a few more paces down the street. The Aventuras Marinas you’re looking for is located at Manuel Bonilla 178-B.
You might have to wait a short while for a table, especially at lunchtime on weekdays. If the downstairs area looks packed, have a quick look upstairs.
Do you have a favourite place for a cheap lunch in Miraflores? If you do, let us know in the comments section below. Cheers!