Sure, Arequipa is a tourist destination, a cultural epicenter and an important city for industry. But Peru’s second largest city is also a college town.
The thriving student population of Universidad Nacional de San Agustín de Arequipa brings a youthful vitality to the White City. But sometimes even the most energetic and engaged need a little pick-me-up (read: late-night cram sessions). And that’s where Arequipa’s many cafes come into play.
No, you’re not in Seattle. But with the number of places to score a good cup of coffee and shot of espresso, a similar kick-back cafe culture thrives in Arequipa. And it isn’t Nescafe they’re serving.
Cusco Coffee Company
Centro: La Merced 135
Homesick for a Frappuccino? For better or worse, Cusco Coffee Company is the Starbucks of Peru, and the Arequipa location is especially hopping. High-end espresso drinks are served by social baristas, along with the sugary baked goods. It may be a big corporation, but beans are mindfully sourced from the Amazon jungle.
Cafe Restaurant Antojitos de Arequipa
Centro: Morán cuadra 1
It’s not just the fact that it stays open 24 hours that keeps Antojitos de Arequipa bumping. The humble restaurant serves up Peruvian comfort food, in addition to a huge array of espresso drinks, but best of all is its bakery. The cafe prides itself on making traditional Peruvian dulces with fresh, natural ingredients. It’s the perfect way to start a day, or fuel a night.
Zig Zag Creperie
Centro: Alianza Francesa, Santa Catalina 208
More than a mere place to get a caffeine fix, Zig Zag Creperie’s ambiance lures in the crowds. A roaring fireplace, sweet balcony and collection of board games make for a good time night or day. A huge menu of sweet and savory (and veggie friendly) crepes can be had as well.
Centro: Mercaderes 113
With a humble, retro vibe, Manolo’s feels like stepping into your long lost Peruvian grandmother’s cafe. There’s a full menu of regional delights, but coffee and espresso drinks can be ordered from the counter.
El Turko I
Centro: San Francisco 216
This Middle Eastern favorite doesn’t just serve up mean kebabs and falafels. The cafe is just as beloved for its daytime array of java juices and sweet pasteries. The hip, funky vibe also helps to make it a hit among the student crowd. There’s also a location by the airport, called El Turko II.