The “peña” bars of Lima
Travelers, there are little-known places where the heart of old Lima beats to this day. Read more and find out where to spend a 100% Creole-style evening.
“Peñas” are small bars where the traditions of Lima that began during the early 20th century are continued to this day. Here they play Creole music, with inspired lyrics accompanied by the guitar and Peruvian box-like percussion instrument known as the “cajón”. The most famous singer of this type of music is Chabuca Granda, who was born in the 1920s and gave Peru a second national anthem in the form of her song “Flor de la Canela”. These old songs and live bands have survived in the nation’s capital in small bars that operate behind closed doors; this means that they are only for the initiated, those who know where to go or who knock on the door. Forget the so-called “Street of Pizzas” near Kennedy Park in Miraflores, and head instead for three of Lima’s peñas where you will have a very different experience. A Creole fiesta is known as a “jarana”, and it is composed of three basic elements: plenty of pisco, plenty of music, and plenty of feeling. So, if you are in Lima on a Friday night, now you know: head for a “jarana”. No reservations accepted; just take a chance.
Don Porfirio, Barranco
Don Porfirio is a traditional Barranco peña that has been offering the public Creole music and Afro-Peruvian rhythms for the past 33 years. The party gets started at 10:00 p.m. The entrance fee is S/25 Peruvian soles and includes a pisco sour. We recommend you try the home cooked stir-fried beef and vegetables (“lomo saltado”), which is a worthy homage to Creole cooking. While the stage is being set for the festivities, you’ll see couples dancing waltzes. Very often a famous musician will join the band on stage to dance and move their hips to the hottest rhythms. This is the place to feel the African soul of Peru’s capital. Every Friday there is a different surprise.
Manuel Segura 115, Barranco, 01 4773119 Facebook/DonPorfirio
Las López, Lince
The sisters who run this establishment, Isabel (or Chabuca) and Adela López, sing as a duet. Here, breaded steak and beans are served every Friday and the atmosphere is bohemian, relaxed and heartfelt. The sisters have nine tables in what is the living room of their own house, where they have always hosted musical evenings, and where they themselves were born. Those guests without a table remain standing or sit wherever they can… just like home. The entrance is a small door at number 663, along with a passageway and into the living room of the house and the heart of traditional Creole Lima.
Jr. Pedro Conde 663, Lince Facebook/Peña-Las-Lopez
Centro Social Cultural Breña, Breña
The Breña Musical Center was established in 1974. On Friday and Saturday evenings well-known figures from the traditional neighborhood music scene take to the stage. This is not a tourist show; this is an authentic experience. Beer and pisco are served, beans and steak are on the menu, and the songs heard are taken from the traditional Creole songbook. Wendor Salgado is one of the founders of this renowned peña. Salgado is a historian and passionate chronicler of Creole music. His house is known as the Creole Cathedral. They take their music seriously here. Breña is not a touristy neighborhood; it is best to take a taxi.
Jr. Olmedo 452 Breña Facebook/Centro-Social-Cultural-Musical-Breña