on May 8, 2010
As my beloved mother repeatedly told me, breakfast is the most important meal of the day – and at Yakumama’s, a wonderfully-situated eaterie on Cusco’s Plaza de Armas, it’s also the best. The restaurant’s open all day, but it’s the fantastic morning spreads and reasonable prices that’ll keep you coming back.The Plaza de Armas is oriented like a diamond, each of its corners seeking out a cardinal point. Yakumama Grill is at the southern apex, on the south-west side. A relatively inconspicuous entrance is tucked away under the arches that line the square, leading up a switchbacking flight of stairs to the restaurant. The food is certainly one part of the appeal of the place, but the atmosphere is equally appealing; an airy, unfussy dining room is filled with wooden tables, although there’s no lack of room and you never feel hemmed in. On one side of the room, the kitchen is visible and audible through a window, whilst on the other, a small balcony has space for two tables – premier spots with wonderful views of the Cathedral and lively, leafy square.Unpretentious and unhurried, the breakfast options are also simple; a range of set menus are on offer, starting at around 10 Soles (£2) and heading upwards to around twice this. Although you can also order items individually, there’s enough choice and variety amongst the set options that it never felt necessary. The lightest breakfast consists of a hot drink, fruit juice (fresh and delicious) and a selection of rolls, jams and marmalades, while other options add muesli, some delectable piping-hot porridge, fruit salads, pancakes and – somewhat curiously – fried tomatoes with chips.The food’s all good, straightforward, homely stuff. You could pay more and eat more fancily – and doubtless can in many of the hotels around the Plaza de Armas – but why would you want to? Yakumama offers a chilled, easy-going place to eat decent, filling food with great views, doubly so if you’re fortunate enough to grab a balcony seat. The staff are friendly and welcoming, and there’s never any sense of pressure to finish up. Many a lazy coffee has been enjoyed here.The place stays open until latish, offering a range of reasonable, unsurprising meals for lunch and dinner – mostly based around simple meat/something combinations. The ambience and fare is at its best in the morning, however.Cusco’s a fine place to discover the pleasant surprise that is Peruvian cuisine, and Yakumama’s a great place to start the day. For evening meals, check out some of the restaurants and bars along Calles Procurado and Plateros, in the maze of streets just to the north of the square – and make sure you try the Cuy (Guinea Pig) at least once. However, it’s this lazily atmospheric café/restaurant which, between its food, vibe and views, gets the breakfast vote in the city.
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