Bembos Peru’s Best Burger Joint

Bembos
Bembos Huachana Hamburger

Bembos

Everyone who visits Peru should stop for a quick meal at Bembos!  It is Peru’s version of McDonald’s only a million times better.  I stop in here a few times a week, normally after tying on a hard one in the Sabor Peruana V.I.P. until 4 AM.  In Miraflores you will find Bembos across Parque Kennedy from the calle de las pizzas.

The food is made to order and tastes much better than any American Fast Food Joint.  My Favorite is the Huachana Cheeseburger Combo with a ton of Aji sauce on the side and all over the burger.  The aji sauce is fantastic and I wish I knew how to make it.  The papa fritas are great and it is more like a better version of Burger King than anything else I have seen.

You can try Bembos in Lima or Cusco in the plaza de armas and in other locations around the country.  Stop in and give Bembos a try.

Chau!

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McDonald’s Cusco, Peru

Cusco McDonalds Plaza de Armas
Eat at McDonalds in Cusco Peru

I had a heck of a time trying to find a decent place to grab a bite while I was visiting Cusco this trip.  I was so sick that I couldnt make it much farther than the plaza de armas or the mercado central so I decided to try a taste of home.  The McDonald’s in Cusco, Peru is located in the Plaza de Armas.  They have a restroom and there are plenty of ATM’s and money exchange booths in the plaza close by.

The food here is fast and hot as any McDonald’s should be.  I just wish I could say the same thing about the local restaurants around Cusco.  All I have found that wasnt totally disgusting was Pizza.  All the food I tried was bland and tasted of cardboard and week old frozen tv dinners.  The only real place to get a meal was in the Market and that was a good deal.

Cusco: Eating at the Mercado Central

Cusco was the Inca Capital.  The city is a cultural epicenter and is located at 10,000 feet high in the Andes Mountains.   One thing I have always said is that good food is very hard to come by in Cusco.  I dont know if that is because of the Altitude Sickness or just that I am used to the complexity of the cuisine in Lima.  I have however experienced a great deal of what Cusco has to offer.

The Central Market is located close to the San Pedro Rail Station just a few blocks walk from the Plaza de Armas.  Here you will find everything from fresh coca leaves to alpaca stocking caps.  On any given day you will find a quick and tasty bite to eat here as well.  In the mornings locals are quick to grab a fresh glass of custom varieties of fruit juice and freshly made sweet bread.  At lunch time it is difficult to find a seat at the favorite spots as the locals all seem to enjoy the eateries.

On this particular visit I was overcome with the AMS acute mountain sickness having taken the Flores bus through the night for a non stop 23 hour ride.  Let me just say I was glad to be off the bus and I needed to eat.  I found a little place in the back with Caldo de chunos or sopa de chunos which seemed perfect.  I enjoyed every drop of it for s./1 or about 30 cents usd.  It was great and made me feel alot better.

There are a variety of alpaca stores and t-shirt shops inside as well as the usual meat market and other various stands of produce.  If you are in Cusco you have to check this place out.  I recommend trying one of the eateries for a decent meal around lunch time.

Coca Leaf Tea : Cusco : Natural Remedy : Alttitude Sickness

Upon arriving in Cusco most people are immediately overcome with altitude sickness.  Acute pulmonary adema has syptoms of severe headache, stomach cramps, and fatigue.  The native andean people deal with this in everyday life.  The normal remedy is the chewing of coca leafs or drinking mate de coca.  The leaves of the coca plant are not to be confused with the cocaine extracted from them.

Upon drinking the mate de coca (coca tea) one is relieved of most symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness.  The effects of the tea are not extreme by any means as the active contents are only 1% compared to extracted drug.

Most hostels near El Monteserio offer the tea to guests upon arrival and the raw leaves can be purchased in the market.  Expect to pay around S./2 for a sandwich bag full.  You can normally find them in little green see through bags next to large burlap sacks full of them.  If you cant find them just ask or go to one of the small tiendas or mini markets.  The mini markets in Lima also sell mate de coca in tea bags right next to the regular lipton tea and cost about S./1.85 or about $.75 US for a box.

Normally chewing them has a descent effect if you are hiking around the Inca ruins surrounding Cusco.

Lima to Cusco by Bus

The main method of transportation in and around South America is Bus.  Although buses here are much different from those in the United States.  Here, you can travel like a rock star aboard any of the super churre service lines.  These provide a VIP salon on the first level composed of semi-cama plush seating.  The seats reline to 180 degrees and are quite comfortable on long trips.

The trip from Lima to Cusco heads out of Lima to the south through Lurin towards Nazca.  From there the route takes you up through the foothills of the andes mountains through Abancay and Curahuasi and finally to the Mochileros Mecca of Cusco high in the Andes Mountains.

The buses from Lima normally leave in the early afternoon arriving in Cusco the following day around 12 noon.  The trip takes between 22 and 23 hours depending on the bus line you choose.  I have experience with 2 different tour operators.

I would strongly recommend not taking the Flores bus line as its buses are a little older and the toilets smell really bad.  Some of the buses stop for bathroom breaks but ours didnt.  By the night time the entire bus smelled terrible and everyone started getting sick from the weaving road and the shear change in the altitude.  Lima is at sea level and Cusco is at around 10,000 feet.

Palameros is the other trusted bus line that I have used.  This is a newer line as of 2009 and the buses are new and very clean.  They also will stop if you need to use the restroom and shy upon going #2 in the bathrooms onboard to provide all with an enjoyable ride.  You can expect to take one small carry on bag with you and they sell limited beverages and snacks along the way.  The supplies dont last long and you should plan to bring your own water along with you as the beverages normally are gone quickly.  The service does include 2 meals which normally consist of a small dish of rice and a piece of chicken and some small desert, breakfast of sweet bread or cookies and coffee.  Prices are around $45 one way.

Other Buses from Lima to Cusco include Cial, Civa and Cruz del Sur.

Recommended carry on items:

1)water (this will help with the change in altitude)

2)snacks

3)entertainment-they do have tv’s on the bus and show movies in spanish sometimes in english with subtitles, but never hurts to bring your laptop or ipod onboard.

4)TP this is a must as is you need to use the facilities they do not provide it.  Most of the bus stations and stops provide restrooms / banos and normally charge S./0.50 fifty centimos and provide a few pieces of tp.  I always keep some in my back pocket in place of a wallet.

5)advil to help with the altitude