Three years ago, after leaving her long-standing position as Commercial Manager of Inca Rail, Ana Belaunde took a sabbatical year to breathe, center her passions and, ultimately, figure out how to combine them in the next chapter of her life. The result is Limaná: a healthy fine dining experience that brings together her fascination for cooking, nutrition and sustainability.
While her love for animals drove her to become vegetarian over 25 years ago, it was, curiously enough, her fear of becoming anemic due to the diet change that would lead her to the world of nutrition.
“I began to read about the common malpractices of corporations in livestock farming, which led to me meeting with amazing nutritionists. Meanwhile, I noticed my allergies disappeared and overall health improved with my change in diet—and it all led to this other passion of mine, one for nutrition and eating well,” tells Ana.
Now, backed by a team of experts in fields of wellness, nutrition (including Sacha Barrios), cooking and design, Ana strives to show people that providing your body with the nutrients it needs can be an enjoyable—if not indulgent—experience.
There is an undeniable element of design at Limaná where each space is aesthetically pleasing, calming and elevates the dining experience. The restaurant is quite unlike any other place in the city, from the facade to the aguaymanto bushes resting in the interior patio.
Stark white walls undecorated with any type of clear signage have made Limaná an eye-catching if not curious building to contemplate for locals of San Isidro and the neighboring Magdalena district. The structure, designed by Barclay & Crousse, an architecture firm based in Paris and Lima, is even more captivating inside.
Inspired by the classic homes of colonial Lima, a central interior patio is surrounded by two main dining sections, a bar and a small cafe. As elements of sustainability and nature are key to Limaná, none of the spaces are completely enclosed, allowing natural light (responsible for nearly all of the illumination) and fresh air to pour in. Every table has a view of flora, be it of the small herb garden or surrounding fruit trees. Though the project was completed months before the pandemic hit Peru, the layout naturally follows recent health and safety protocols.
In the future, groups looking for an intimate dining or meeting area may consider reserving the enclosed private dining room (though it is currently unavailable due to biosafety concerns).
The name Limaná is the marriage of Lima—the gastronomic capital of South America—and the Hebrew word maná (or manna), meaning ‘food of the gods.’ Because, as Ana was reminded by close friends and advisors, if you’re going to open up a largely plant-based restaurant in a city where fish and pork rule, the offering better be an irresistible temptation.
“The fact that you couldn’t go out to a healthy restaurant and really feel as if you were indulging—the way that one would if they were to go to Osaka or La Mar—was an impulse for me to create this project,” tells Ana. “I don’t want this to be a place that is solely attractive to vegans or vegetarians—I want to inspire all diet types to eat a more nutrient-dense meal and to generate the least amount of harm on animals and the environment while doing so.”
The integral project plays out in the menu (accessed by scanning a QR code in order to cut the spread of germs and paper waste). Unsurprisingly, the options are mainly plant-based, however there are quite a few fish plates in order to lure in a broader audience of diners. We appreciated the inclusion of helpful icons to determine which dishes were suitable for specific diet restrictions (i.e. dairy-free, gluten-free, Paleo, Keto).
Refreshing starter options include the zucchini and beet carpaccios. Single layers of the paper-thin cuts of vegetable are accompanied by a few texturous additions and topped with a natural vinaigrette. The zucchini carpaccio (S/ 25)—topped with shavings of pecorino, crunchy pine nuts and hints of red peppercorn—was a crowdpleaser, though it was the generous drizzle of tart raspberry vinaigrette and chunks of almond cheese that made the beet carpaccio (S/ 23) a dish to remember (and order next time we visit).
Pescatarians (or any fish-eater, for that matter) will enjoy the tiradito de atun (S/ 29). A sauce of lemon and honey (for sweet-acidic balance) douse the thin cuts of raw tuna, while small cubes of toasted avocado provide a delightful hint of smokiness.
While we were told the star plate is the colorful arroz meloso (S/29) (arborio rice cooked with a crema de aji and ghee), in no way did it impress us as much as the corvina (S/69): a thick fish filet paired with a buttery leek sauce.
We scraped clean the plate of broccoli with lima bean puree (S/29) a vegan dish of sauteed broccoli florets and mushrooms served atop a thick bed of creamed lima beans and a hint of truffle oil. Would we have felt full after enjoying just one of the meatless entrees? Perhaps not; however, with its large tables, strict adherence to safety protocols and a menu with offerings hard to find in any other fine dining establishment, Limaná can be the perfect host for a reunion with a small group of friends looking to share a few plates.
And don’t skip dessert. The dessert menu is simple and sweet (though not overly sugary, as everything is sweetened with raw honey, dates or organic coconut sugar), and each treat is gluten- and dairy-free and keto-friendly. The tarta de fresas y frambuesas (S/25) is packed with a refreshing sweetness from the red berries, which we don’t see enough of in Peruvian restaurants. While we were served the tarta de chocolate y menta (S/21), we discovered the best of both worlds by purchasing the chocolate mousse with red berry sauce (S/18) from the cafe (also available in main dining area).
This is where you can go to pick up a food item or caffeinated drink to go. A variety of hot and cold coffee drinks can be paired with gluten-free muffins and cookies, as well as savory tarts and pastels. A small refrigerated section lined with bottles of kombucha, tempting desserts (such as the decadent chocolate mousse) and a few to-go options (the day we visited we saw pasta salad and poke bowls).
While waiting for your order, peruse the back wall of shelves, stocked with reading material, large jars of raw honey, bitter chocolates, truffle oil and other treats and gift ideas.
Pet-friendly and nature-filled, Limaná is an urban oasis ideal for those seeking a calm space to enjoy a coffee or workspace outside of home; families who are looking for not just any restaurant that allows children in during the Covid era, but one where they are not confined to fast-food options; for dog- and nature-lovers seeking a refuge from city life.
Av. Augusto Pérez Aranibar 2011, San Isidro
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