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Chef Virgilio Martinéz Takes Central to New Heights in a Stunning New Space

Peru’s most celebrated restaurant has reopened in a space tailored to indigenous foods

Brenna Houck is a Cities Manager for the Eater network. She previously edited Eater Detroit and reported for Eater. You can follow her on the internet at @brennahouck.

One of Latin America’s most celebrated restaurants Central has finally settled into its new home in Lima, Peru. Chefs Virgilio Martínez and Pia León, the husband and wife team behind a growing collection of international restaurants, made the gutsy move to close their renowned restaurant in the Miraflores District of Lima and relocate to a new building earlier this month. It opened its doors on Monday, June 28.

The new Central is located in Lima’s hip Barraco neighborhood and will provide a larger space geared specifically towards the needs of Central’s complex tasting menus. “We are now able to say more in a space that is double the size of the old one,” Martínez and León told Eater in a joint statement. “At this new site we have the potential to be better, the chance to continue growing, to be creative and have the area needed to experiment, to process, to keep working hard, to be more organized.”

The restaurant will be part of a larger food complex with space devoted to several new and expanded projects. Central occupies the first floor alongside a garden and a larger venue for Central’s research arm, Mater Iniciativa. The pair also plan to open a bar on the ground floor called Mayo, which will feature cocktails and spirits influenced by the work being done at Mater Iniciativa, the Amazon, and at their other restaurant Mil in the Andes. León’s upcoming restaurant Kjolle is set to open on the second floor of the building.

Chefs Pia León and Virgilio Martínez at the kitchen pass with other teammates at Central.
Chefs Pia León and Virgilio Martínez at Central 2.0 in Lima.
Cesar del Rio

Customers pass through the garden filled with native coastal plants, a fire lit inside a traditional Peruvian huatia oven, and a solar dehydrator processing samples from regions around the country. Inside, the restaurant features an open kitchen with an entrance surrounded by glass and Amazonian wood walls. The new dining space is filled with grey stone tables.

Central plans to stay true to the food that customers around the world have come to expect: tasting menus that transport diners to different altitudes and ecosystems through each course, using plants indigenous to Peru. “The food will continue to be a journey through Peruvian eco regions at different altitudes, that essence will not change,” Martínez and León say.

Central is considered an essential stop on any dining itinerary in Lima, and in recent years global awareness has only grown thanks to an episode of Netflix’s hit documentary series Chef’s Table. Despite its relocation, Central recently landed at number 6 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018 list. The opening of Central 2.0 comes just a few months after the opening of Martínez and León’s Andean restaurant Mil and the announcement of the pair’s first restaurant in Asia — Ichu Peru. León’s personal project Kjolle will be more approachable; it’s expected to join Central in its new space on August 10.

Central is now open for dinner. Take a look around and scope out the food below.

A ceramic dish featuring beautifully plated food from Central. Cesar del Rio

Central is located at Dos de Mayo 253. Barranco.

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Feast Your Eyes on Mil, Virgilio Martínez’s Groundbreaking New Restaurant [E]
‘Chef’s Table’ Star Virgilio Martínez Will Open a Peruvian Restaurant in Hong Kong [E]