Dada, a Barranco mansion
In all the guidebooks it is said that Barranco is the heart of bohemian Lima and home to artists and hipsters. In this article we feature more evidence of Barranco’s unique character.
You won’t read about this place in any of the guidebooks. Not even Lonely Planet. Dada is the latest fashionable restobar in Barranco and it only opened its doors for the first time in June.
It is always exciting when a new place takes on a life of its own and fulfills expectations. And that has been the case with Dada. The traditional mansions of Barranco are part of the nation’s cultural heritage, but these days few of them remain standing. Even fewer of them express the artistic ambition displayed by the owners of Dada. Many of these old mansions were built during the guano boom, when that natural fertilizer was big business. The boom lasted from around 1840 to 1860, when guano was the mainstay of the Peruvian economy. The mansions built during this period rivaled each other in ornamental detail and extravagance, as a way of openly displaying the success achieved by their owners. The Dada mansion, on Jr. San Martín 154, is truly beautiful; it has spacious salons, a terrace and courtyard, hand-painted ceramic tiles on the floors and well-preserved historical details. It is a living museum which has been lovingly restored.
But the best thing about Dada is that it has been transformed into a free-spirited restobar. It takes it name from the Dadaist artistic movement that emerged in 1916 as a vindication of total creative freedom, stripped of bourgeois standards. One of the challenges assumed by the Dada team is the transformation of the house into a mini art gallery open to all (there are many galleries in Barranco, but they are rather exclusive), where well-known Lima artists can display their work beside that of new creative types. Paintings, furniture and pottery are offered for sale. Dada aims to attract people to come for a drink, but also to share in their multifaceted cultural approach.
And that cultural approach begins with the décor of the salons. In the first room, you’ll find a red phone booth like those seen in London and a vintage ambiance recalling the atmosphere of an English pub. In the second room there is a wall adorned with doors of all shapes and sizes, while old phone cables hang from the ceiling. In another room, an old bicycle is suspended above guests’ heads and the bar stools are conceived in a similar style. In these rooms there is acoustic music Wednesdays and Thursdays and a DJ performs Fridays with just one rule: nothing commercial. They serve classic snacks and other more adventurous dishes, such as beef rib sliders, salmon and quinoa, or rice and duck croquettes. They also have an extensive wine list, as well as classic and house special cocktails. I opted for a Guernica (gin, camu camu juice, lychee liqueur, egg white and sugar syrup). For those friends who are new to Peru, I’d recommend La Duda (pisco macerated with Andean herbs, lemon verbena, lemon balm, mint, vermouth and Aperol). The idea is to go for something creative.
The restaurant offers a more classic and elegant vibe, with a closed salon, an open terrace and a private balcony with a single table for two, which is the most sought after. The menu offers welcoming dishes made for sharing and enjoying among friends: beef rib sliders, pork ribs, pork stew or rice and duck to share, or hamburgers. This is bistro fare taken to a four star level. There are also lighter options, such as salads, fish or seafood. So far I’ve only tried one dessert (there are only three desserts on the menu): it was a dark chocolate mousse with a superb creamy topping. The coffee machine has yet to arrive.
I’ll certainly be going back. Oh! I forgot to mention that the impressive outside bar is designed to impress passersby. Here they serve bruschettas and homemade pizzas all day. On Saturdays, the rear courtyard offers special afternoons for children, with free music and games.
Dada is a place destined to mutate, offering a new character and identity every time you visit. Hopefully, it will shake up Lima society a little and open up what can be an overly exclusive scene. This place is welcoming and comes as a breath of fresh air. Come and try it, travelers, so you’ll be able to say that “something is going down in Lima…”
- Bruschettas (from S/10 to S/14), homemade pizzas (from S/24 to S/38), house cocktails (from S/24 to S/32), sandwiches and hamburgers (from S/22 to S/32), salads (from S/22 to S/26), main dishes (from S/32 to S/89), desserts (from S/16 to S/18).
- Opening hours: From 12:00 noon to 1:00 a.m., open until 3:00 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sundays; Closed Mondays.
- Dada, Avenida San Martín 154, Barranco