“The enchantment of coming to the historic center is lost,” says Jessica Barros, owner of Union Central Coffee. You wouldn’t have thought this was the case when on a Thursday night in July the restaurant partnered with producers “Headsouth”:http://www.peruthisweek.com/blogs-headsouth-music-109859 to put on a show by local rock band Kinder. The space filled up with a crowd that enjoyed live music, wood oven pizzas and a curated selection of Peruvian beers. Located on the southeast corner of Plaza San Martin, the 5-month old restaurant and multi-platform space is ready and able to enchant one and all.
The name Union Central combines the two concepts that Jessica wanted her business to encapsulate. “I wanted a space where different types of people and mentalities could connect and unite. And I wanted the name to communicate that this place is a meeting point,” she tells us.
_Union Central Coffee owner, Jessica Barros (Photo: Living in Peru/Erick Andia)_
Sure, creating a gathering spot in a popular district like Miraflores would’ve been the easier, predictable route, but that would’ve meant forsaking the vital components Jessica envisioned the space to hold. “Lima is a working city. Everyone works, the movement is palpable, and Lima’s center represents that.” After living twenty years on the U.S. East Coast (mainly Philly and New York), the design elements and unifying force of the blue-collar semi-industrial neighborhoods Jessica is familiar with and loves translates very well to the historic center.
The ceilings are high, the walls painted off-white, the floor a grey and white checkered pattern. It’s spacious and sparse yet filled with small, symbolic details. From the wood-top, steel leg tables to the shelf shaped like a triangle that hangs on the wall right in front of the entrance. “I was planning on [making it] for some time. I believe in what’s called sacred geometry, which has to do with one’s interior and what one projects. I wanted this piece in order to produce and transmit good energy,” states Jessica.
_(Photo: Living in Peru/Erick Andia)_
On the shelves you’ll find a display of quirky mementos and clear, round cacti and succulent florariums also present throughout the restaurant. The history of Lima’s center also lent to the atmosphere that Jessica wanted, connecting the restaurant to the structures and character of its past. Take the entrance’s half moon, cast iron window grill in a beautiful floral design, or the fitting interior detail of the steel wheel that lowers the restaurant’s external gates.
The menu at Union Central is direct in its offering of satisfying foods and flavors. For breakfast a variety of pastries are available to accompany the specialty coffee options made possible by a powerful, shiny black La Marzocco espresso machine. On our visit, we opted for a French press, two-cup option. If neither of these methods are to your taste, Union Central’s coffee bar was created to provide coffee lovers with a variety of possibilities: enjoy your freshly ground Peruvian coffee made with an AeroPress, V60 slow brew or with a Chemex. For lunch or dinner, try your hand at their salmon salad, filling pastas and the variety of pizzas they offer. Vegetarian options available. We tried their chicken barbecue pizza that went wonderfully with a hoppy red Kennel beer.
_(Photo: Living in Peru/Erick Andia)_
A café, restaurant, bar, performance space, art gallery: these are the ways in which Union Central is attracting people downtown and delighting them in the process. Jessica, an artist and designer herself, collaborates frequently with artists on producing temporary exhibits. At the time of our visit, illustrations by artist Orlando Aquije among others adorned the walls. Jessica mentioned her excitement at the prospect of showcasing a watercolor artist, and planning an event for the opening of the exhibit. Indeed, check out their Facebook page and you’ll find Union Central hosting events every week, including the series Latin Pop Corn, a listening party celebrating tropical, Latin sounds from the 60s and 70s, played on vinyl records all night long.
Union Central Coffee
Jiron Carabaya 937
Now that you're here:
We're asking you, our reader, to make a contribution in support of our digital guide in order to keep informing, updating and inspiring people to visit Peru. Why now? In our near 20-year journey as the leading English-language source on travel in Peru, we've had our fair share of ups and downs-but nothing quite like the challenges brought forth in the first quarter of 2020.
By adapting to the changing face of the tourism and travel industry (on both local and international levels), we have no doubt we will come out stronger-especially with the support of our community. Because you will travel again, and we will be ready to show you the best of Peru.
Your financial support means we can keep sharing the best of Peru through high-quality stories, videos and insights provided by our dedicated team of contributors and editors based in Peru. And of course, We are here to answer your questions and help whenever you need us.
As well, it makes possible our commitment to support local and small businesses that make your visit an unforgettable one. Your support will help the people working in these industries get back on their feet once the world allows us to make our dream of enjoying everything Peru has to offer a reality again-from its mouthwatering gastronomy, thriving Amazon and archaeological wonders such as Machu Picchu.
Together, we will find a way through this. As a member of our community, your contribution, however big or small, is valuable.