You may have never heard of Sonia -or perhaps you have-, but in Lima, this unassuming woman is a rockstar of the culinary world. The story goes like this: a little girl was born in the fishermen’s district of Chorrillos, next to the Pacific Ocean, and grew up lulled by the sound of the waves, and nourished with the freshest fish in every meal. She learned to cook at a young age and married a fisherman, Freddy Guardia, who then became the father of her children.
More than twenty years ago, a famous journalist called Doris Gibson, discovered her talent in the kitchen. At the time, Sonia had opened a small cebiche joint, against her husband´s will, where she served the best cebiche in town. It didn’t take long for word of mouth to start working its magic, and she became an instant hit. From then on, her restaurant, Sonia, has bursted with diners, eager to enjoy the simple but exquisite food that she and her family put on each table.
I’ve been to Sonia so many times, that visiting this cebicheria feels like home. Sonia herself used to dance in front of everyone with the live piano music, and Freddy, her husband, charmed the customers with his recited poetry. Their daughter, Sonia Guardia, also trained as a cook and learned all of her mother´s secrets (lucky her), and to this day she remains one of the most knowledgeable and talented fish and shellfish experts I’ve met.
The restaurant is so popular, that you are likely to bump into every famous person in the city, and even celebrities from abroad, such as Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain fell under the spell of Sonia´s food while visiting Lima for his TV show, No Reservations. Ferran Adria, the most famous chef in the world, also praised her food and the freshness of the fish.
But despite all these glamorous visitors, don´t expect fancy decorations or upscale dining here. Instead, be ready for an overwhelmingly tasty experience and a friendly and homey atmosphere accompanied by live music. Freddy may even be weaving his fishing nets in front of everyone, and have a nice chat with you.
Where: Calle Santa Rosa 173. Altura Regatas. Chorrillos. Lima. Perú.