The food scene in Peru is hot, hot, hot. And I’m not just talking about the spice. It’s THE new culinary destination.

Husband and I have been sampling street food and some of the foodie-blogger-acclaimed favorites. We also splurged on a meal at Central, number fifteen on the just-released list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

I’ve been lucky enough to eat at a few Michelin-starred establishments. Central ranks near the top in terms of creativity/oddness (take your pick). The menu showcases Peru’s ecosystem, with dishes inspired by locations within the country from below sea level to the top of the Andes.

We had a vegetarian/fish version of the shorter tasting menu. The small portions (usual at a place like this) had names like Dead Amazon, Dry Andes, and Octopus in the Desert, and featured ingredients from cactus milk to algae to kiwicha to tumbo (the latter are a local vegetable and fruit), along with more recognizable ingredients like avocado, scallops, and squash.

Everything was wonderfully presented and quite frankly, delicious. As a plus, the atmosphere was friendly and even casual, not what you might expect at such an acclaimed establishment.

Husband and I got to talking over our meal and were the last customers to leave. We started the walk back to our hotel.

Me: “So what did you think?”

Husband: “I liked it. Original, tasty…” His voice trailed off.

Me: “But?”

Husband: “But I’m still hungry!”

Me: “The portions were pretty small. How about a fish taco from the place by the beach if it’s open?” (We’d had lunch there the day before: grilled fresh fish and chopped avocado and tomato in handmade tortillas.)

Husband: “Yes!”

Although it was late, the taco place was open. There was a small crowd at the counter. I recognized two of the customers: waiters from Central.

Me: “What are you guys doing here? Don’t you get dinner at the restaurant?”

One of the waiters: “Yes, before our shift. But we are always hungry after, so we come here.”

I ignored Husband’s smirk and ordered two fish tacos. With the works.