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Tampu Restaurant / Snack Bar: From the Most Expensive to the Least Expensive
Having already mentioned that we took advantage of the buffet lunch at the Tinkuy Restaurant which was included in our tour, I'd still like to mention 2 more options for where to eat during your time at Machu Picchu -- 1) The "Tampu Restaurant Bar" -- located inside the Sanctuary Lodge, offers fine dining in a nice setting with a view for lodge guests only. The restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is heavily slanted toward Peruvian cuisine but some reviews I've read do not rave about its finer points of flavor, though some dishes are rated excellent. Rather than dining, If you're hoping to have a pisco sour after a long day of climbing, a very nice looking bar is just there too where drinks can be ordered, chairs situated for relaxing, and Andean musicians are playing. The prices here are especially high as you might expect since accommodations at the lodge itself are astronomical. A meal for 2 may easily add up to US$100 per person since it is a la carte if you have not purchased a lodge accommodations/dining package. NOTE: Whether this restaurant is open to people who are not guests of the Lodge or whether it is for the exclusive use of guests of the Sanctuary Lodge is difficult to determine. The same could be said for having a drink in the very nice bar which may well be worth it if they'll let you slip in.
2) The "Sanctuary Lodge Snack Bar" -- near the entrance gate of the park offers a pretty good choice of food and beverages, plus picnic tables under umbrellas. Choose from sandwiches, burgers, pizza, empanadas, chicken, chips, and sweets to mention a few. Beverages range from beer, gatorade, bottled water, hot chocolate, hot & iced tea, coffee, frozen pisco sours and even chicha morada (the purple drink made from purple corn!!). Some sandwich selections can be seen in the display cases.
Don't expect the snack bar to be easy on your wallet -- food prices range from about 32 soles for a burger to 19 for a pizza. Beer will cost about 16 soles while coffee will be about 10 soles. All prices are approximate. (At the time of our visit, USD$1 = 2,75 soles - April, 2014.)
We made use of the snack bar for bottled water, a beer and a great place to watch people come and go until it began to rain. As we didn't have a table covered by an umbrella, we donned our ponchos and stayed a few minutes longer just to enjoy being there.
And mentioning ponchos, if I can return to Machu Picchu as I hope to, I will pack for the day quite differently and the next tip is my list of only what is needed for the day IMHO.
Tinkuy Buffet Restaurant: The Buffet ~ One Lunch Option at Machu Picchu
Once at the Machu Picchu citadel, there are limited options for finding food. Taking food into the park is forbidden and can be confiscated if you are found carrying it inside (unlikely). But just outside the park entrance gate you'll find a snack bar, the Tampu Restaurant in the Sanctuary Lodge and the Tinkuy Buffet Restaurant.
The Tinkuy Buffet Restaurant is recognizable for its 3 large bifold, glass doors and the long line of people waiting to enter. Entrance is to the right of the restaurant facing the Machu Picchu entrance gate.
We stopped about half way through our day at Machu Picchu to have the buffet lunch at Tinkuy Buffet Restaurant which was included with our tour. When we arrived the restaurant was already jam packed and we waited some minutes before being admitted. Before us was a large display of dishes including chicken, fish, vegetable salads, pasta salads, cold cuts, fruits, breads, soups and desserts and probably more that I've forgotten. Everything looked fresh and appetizing, and newly replenished platters were brought often.
After finally finding an open table to sit at, a waiter came to take our order for beverages which was a soda for most people but hot beverages were also included in the price of the buffet.
I can't really be a good judge of the taste and quality of the food here, as what I could eat after being ill the previous day was pretty limited --- I had soup and bread mostly. My husband tried the chicken and fish for mains with other side dishes and had no severe complaints. As this was an all you eat buffet, you could make any number of trips to the buffet and unfortunately I saw many people wasting food.
While finishing our meal, a group of musicians came to play which was a nice finish. Overall it was not a bad experience, but I have to say that the noise level was very high and the crowding of the restaurant is not what you hope for when trying to relax.
The all-you-can-eat buffet at the Tinkuy Buffet Restaurant is approximately USD$40 pp --- quite expensive for Peru but clearly the majority of visitors were eating here. Tickets are sold just outside of the restaurant. Hours are: 11.30am - 3:00pm.
If the buffet is either too much lunch for you or too hard on the wallet, there are 2 different options available depending somewhat on your situation is which range from the most expensive to the least expensive which you can read about in my next tip.
Favorite Dish: My husband tried a little bit of nearly everything on the buffet and thought the food was fine. I had soup and rolls and was satisfied with that!
Combined Suggestions: Where to have lunch?
We were visiting the ruins with a guide and lunch was included so we went to the buffet at the Sanctuary Lodge. There was a large selection but on the whole I was disappointed. The room was very noisy and seemed more like a canteen than a restaurant in a five star hotel. There wasn't enough space between the tables, so it was hard to get to and from the buffet. And we only wanted a light meal so we paid a lot of money for not much food!
If you have a choice and like us just want a snack I'd recommend that you go to the snack bar or bring a picnic from Aguas Calientes.
Typical street vendor: baby beef hearts on a stick!
Obviously, if you sign up for a guided trek of the Inca Trail, all your meals will be prepared for you en route. It makes for a nice departure to normal backpacking, where you have to cook and clean up for yourself. Once you arrive in Machu Picchu, there are some expensive restaurants and also a small cafeteria, which serves pretty tasty if a bit pricey food. It is far cheaper to eat in Aguas Caliente, where you will catch the train back to Cusco.
Favorite Dish: Food on the trail was generally good, ranging from fried fish the first day to spaghetti. In general though, it never seemed like enough. You burn lots of calories on the trail and need more food than you would normally. Bring extra stuff with you for sure! The cafeteria in Machu Picchu had a really great chicken salad sandwich but you will want another as soon as you finish it. In Aguas Caliente, there are numerous street stalls and in the main market, very cheap and tasty local foods. This picture is of baby beef heart kebabs, served on a stick with a potato on top. Sounds gross but really great. And at 30 cents, tough to beat.
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