Peru is Rich as F%#!: $20 for Water

I took wife to Astrid y Gaston, Peru’s most famous restaurant. Founded by celebrity chef Gaston Acurio, it is one of the most esteemed restaurants in Latin America.

I knew it wouldn’t be cheap, but the final bill presented a surprise.

SURPRISE! $20 for water. Technically three large bottles of high-end water, but $20 of water nonetheless.

I noted the price of water while ordering, but we’re at a nice place so I didn’t make a fuss.

But I couldn’t help noticing that none of these three bottles were placed on the table. They only produced the bottle to refill my glass when I needed filling. No need to actually place an order for a second $7 bottle of water. They just automatically open another and continue filling you up.

It left me wondering if I drank all of the water in the last bottle. What if they refilled me and wife through the first two bottles, and then only poured one glass from the third bottle? What if there were most of the bottle left, representing maybe $6 plus the 15% tip I left? Shouldn’t I be able to take that to go? I mean, I was thirsty on the cab ride home.

My curiosity led me to the website of the brand of water served: Acqua Panna, imported from Tuscany, Italy.

From the website:

Geography, geology and climate combined with proverbial Tuscan savoir faire determine the uniqueness of all land products which are inimitable by nature. In other words, Tuscan cuisine is the expression of its territory with its impressive enological heritage and 455 typical products. Among them: extraordinary wines like Chianti, Brunello, Vernaccia, unrivalled extra virgin oil, known as the Green gold of Tuscany, the famous Chianina cattle that provides the Florentine steak, the crunchy Cantucci biscuits and the well-known pecorino cheese, just to mention a few.

In its turn, Acqua Panna mineral water is both the result of a magic and unique mixture of natural parameters and excellency of Tuscan people and the queen of the table.

Of course a $7 bottle of water comes in glass. The water certainly never touches anything as vulgar as plastic.

About the bottle:

Purity, freshness and transparency are all contained in a charming still mineral water bottle. Acqua Panna minimal and well-designed water bottle embodies the unchanging beauty of Tuscany as well as The Medici Family’s elegance and nobility, symbols of a long history. More than a simple bottled mineral water, Acqua Panna is a prestigious water, sign of fine dining all over the world.

I don’t want to come off as an uncultured hick. But I must say, it tasted like water. In fact, I’m not sure I could have guessed the brand in a blind taste test against my preferred brand in Peru or the United States. Twenty dollars of the latter is illustrated below.

I’d say Peru has come a long way. Rich as F%#!

I posted this pic on the Expat Chronicles Facebook page yesterday. An interesting comment:

It’s ironic. Latin America has been gentrified. Gringofication and world trade have escalated the cost of dinner for two to the equivalent of the monthly salary of a housekeeper. For years I was the king of conspicuous consumption in Costa Rica, but I found out too late that is was this type of behavior that made living in the third world more expensive than living in Miami.



  1. If my calculation is correct that’s $160 (US) for a meal – for two people. I have never spent that kind of money on a meal in my life (and I never will) and I’m making senior software developer money in the US. I could spend money that way, but why? I wouldn’t get $160 value out of a meal. If I spend $50 at Chili’s it’s a big night. I thought you were struggling in Peru. Either you’re a trust fund baby or your book is on the best seller list or you’re trafficking. Whichever it is, you sure don’t need my help.


  2. Gaston is a World famous chef.. his restaurants are exclusive, high end worldwide, but the food is mehhhhhh.. I live in Northern Peru, Pimentel Beach/Chiclayo. The best food in Peru comes from the North. I get what Gaston serves at home.

    Took my wife, kids and Mother in Law out for pollo ala brasa(rotisserie chicken), $30 with apetizers.
    I get a 7 liter bottle of San Mateo (Spring Water) for $5.00.. home use.

    Peru is known for refilling bottles, soda, juice, water, hopefully this is not the case. Gaston’s food is fusion food, not what you’d expect from a traditional Peruvian plate. Besides, Peruvian food has many varied cuisines, ethnic as well as regional.

    8 years ago went to Gaston Restaurant in Lima, La Mar, food was bland and expensive. Now we avoid anything with Gaston’s name..
    Next trip you should try Restaurant Central, a block from Larco Mar, this young guy has a cozy restaurant and great food. Use to live accross the street from there..


  3. I would sure like to know what these Russians are saying. I think that either they have a few million dollars that they want me to kindly accept or there are some beautiful young women who are desperate to meet me.


  4. That’s outrageously expensive. The vast majority of Peruvians and Latinamericans in general cannot not afford such a meal. Or they would have to save months. Even for European or Americans standards it’s quite expensive for the average middle class person.

    This goes to show how sickeningly classist and elitist the Latin Americas are, especially Peru,


  5. For a world class restaurant that is still a deal. Dinner at The French Laundry is about 300 bucks per cover. I would venture that it’d be a sight better than Gaston y Astrid, but still. Having to import Aqua Panna for the small demand that exists for it here also raises its price.

    Chili’s blows man. Good for you though, you’ll have a good retirement I guess.


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