Lunchtime At Mandala Vegetarian Restaurant – Arequipa, Peru

Lunchtime At Mandala Vegetarian Restaurant – Arequipa, Peru
Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.


Although Peruvian cuisine seems a bit meat-centric at fist glance, there are so many amazing options for vegetarian dishes, and we’ve found lots of fantastic restaurants in every city we’ve been to.

The one trick is that you definitely have to specify if you don’t eat dairy (and specifically say no milk, cheese, yogurt, etc) or eggs because many vegetarian dishes involve one or more of those foods.

In Arequipa, my favorite spot has been Manadala Vegetarian Restaurant. We’ve tried a few, and the food is good in all of them, but the staff at Mandala are so sweet that they make it special.

The cool thing about restaurants in Peru is that for lunch, they have a set menu that’s super cheap – 5-10 soles, which is $2-4. I keep thinking that if you’re cooking for 2, you can barely buy the food, let alone the time and energy/gas used to cook it for that price…

So – we’ve been enjoying lunches out a fair bit 🙂 The nicest part is that so many of the vegetarian places we’ve gone make food in a healthy and simple – but incredibly delicious – way.

Happy Cow is my go-to way to find places to try in any city, and they have great coverage of Peru. I’ve been trying to leave reviews of anywhere we go, although I’m working on a bit of a backlog…

The only trouble I’ve had is that the food is so simple and pretty much just all piled on one plate, so it’s not very photogenic, which is why I haven’t posted any photos of what we’ve been eating out – I don’t want to give a bad impression of good food.

So, when you order the menu, what comes is a soup, sometimes a small salad, and then a big plate of food. You also get some kind of drink, usually a simple tea (whether hot or cold).

For the main plate, most of the vegetarian places serve some kind of bean stew, cooked rice and some cooked and/or raw vegetables. It’s like the perfect meal!

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At Mandala, they also serve a little cup of yogurt, which we just tell them we don’t want. One time when we went, the salad had a cheesy dressing, so they made a little plate of sliced cucumber, tomato and olives.

We really haven’t had any issues getting vegan meals in the vegetarian restaurants anywhere in Peru. The soups – even when they’re called ‘crema’ – have never had any dairy in them. There was only once when the soup had egg.

Desserts are almost always fruit – either a little fruit cup or a baked apple or something like that.

Now, lunches are so big here that we have them as our main meal for the day, and then have a small, simple dinner. A lot of vegetarian restaurants aren’t open for dinner, and if they are it’s more a la carte rather than this menu setup.

Also, a lot of restaurants aren’t open on Sundays. But we do still make most of our meals ourselves, since we like to get lots of fresh vegetables and fruit 🙂 Happy Cow is really useful for finding grocery and health food stores.

Do you use Happy Cow when you travel? Let me know below 🙂


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