While we’d been just relaxing at Trotamundos Cafe, HBBF had struck up a conversation with two girls chattering in Mandarin who turned out to be from NYC. While talking to them, they strongly recommended this restaurant, AMA-LUR, for a cheap and delicious set menu meal that would not cost very much at all. The next day, we wandered on over for lunch because why not?
The set menu came with a small salad – in our case, tuna, a white soup with potatoes, and our choice of trout or spaghetti, plus a glass of juice. This all cost 10 sols, which at an exchange rate of 2.75 equates to about $3.64USD.
My bit of tuna salad actually had chunks of potato, a light vinaigrette, and a few defrosted peas/carrots strewn throughout it, and was pretty tasty and light. The glass in the upper left hand corner of the photo is the melon juice – canteloupe, we determined – and was quite yummy, but not cold at all.
Closer up of the salad. Very yummy.
The soup was pleasant enough, fairly clean in taste, but committed one of the cardinal sins of food for me: mixing carbs. There was rice, potatoes, and yuca all in one soup, so I eventually began eating around the carbs and just drank the sweet and light broth.
HB & HBBF both ordered the spaghetti ‘saltado’ which came like this, looking like a bad Chinese takeout dish. Lo mein noodles topped with a beef and gravy that didn’t quite sit well with HB – she barely touched her dish – but she also said she was super full from eating all the potatoes/rice/yuca in her soup. HBBF ate more of it, but remarked that while it tasted fine, he wasn’t expecting that and as such, was a bit disappointed with his meal. “IF I’d known this is what I’d be getting, I’d be more okay with having ordered it.” Basically, the menu nor the waiter described the dish quite accurately, but at the end of the day, it was only OK anyway.
I wasn’t really feeling in the pasta mood (quite the opposite of BF, who can and will eat pasta any day of the week), so I opted for the trout. I was expecting a white-fleshed fish for some reason, but this is what came – a thin fillet of a red fleshed fish. It was cooked through, and slightly bland on its own, so I wound up eating quite a lot of it with the pico that came with our tuna salads (which you can see in the first picture of food above). This brightened it up quite a bit and made me happy, despite its slightly spicy nature. The fish was otherwise fine, and came with rice and potatoes (which was holding the fish up in the picture), and a bit of salad.
BF wasn’t interested in the set menu items, and opted to order off the menu – plain old spaghetti. Given that his dish was 16 or 17 sols, I did suggest he get the set menu, but he didn’t want the spaghetti as described (and we were both glad when it came that he didn’t get it, because he’d have been unhappy), and he told me – this is a lesson I am still trying to ingrain in my brain – “Why should I order that menu because it’s so much cheaper when I won’t enjoy it? It’s worth it to me to pay the extra money for something I will enjoy, for something I want, than pay much less for something I don’t really want and won’t really enjoy.” Well said, BF. (This works in my favor most of the time; if he sees that I am struggling with my inner demon that says I can get by with a cheaper version of what I really want… well, I go home with what I really want! :)) In any case, he was happy with his choice, though it was a bit overkill with the cheese on top, the spaghetti – proper spaghetti noodles – were cooked about right (not mushy and not al dente, but edible), the sauce was sufficient, and he was one happy boy. He was actually probably the most pleased with his meal choice that day.
(Side note: while BF is fully aware and able to discern authentic, delicious, amazing red sauce, he is also fully capable of eating red sauce from just about anywhere – provided it isn’t absolutely disgusting [straight ketchup on pasta is not acceptable] – and will not deride it for being “not as good as Dad’s.” This seems opposite to many of the foods I love, because once I’ve had an amazing rendition, I try not to eat bad versions anymore.)
Overall, the place was pleasant, one of the few open at an ‘awkward’ hour for lunch (a lot of places outside of NYC close between lunch and dinner services, which leaves travellers at odds sometimes), and extremely cheap. Our server was friendly and attentive, but not overly so, and we all had a great time. Tourist friendly, so if you’re in Cusco and want to eat a lot of food for a reasonably cheap price (yes, there’s still cheaper!), this is a good bed for lunch. (Dinner set menus are structured about the same but 15 sols.)