Iquitos Top 3 Restaurants

by Captain Bill

Guest post by Bo Keeley

People arrive at Iquitos to visit the jungle but should come for the food. The Top Three restaurants of the ‘furthermost port in the world’ offer astounding meals at reasonable prices… but which is the best, has been the question on tourists lips in the past fifteen years I’ve visited. This is a quick guide based on an unbiased mathematical system of pluses and minuses to the best eating in the Amazon.

ARI’s BURGER was my haunt for the first five years because of its star position on Plaza de Armas where tourists eventually find themselves. The Pluses are the same now as then: Excellent food at reasonable prices, friendly staff, fleshly local color, and an open air atmosphere adjacent to the boulevard. Bluntly, the Negatives remain: The waitresses inattentively drag their feet, and black garbage bags pile in the kitchen next to food preparation waiting for the biweekly refuse truck to roll by. Rating – 4 Stars of 5

YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS is where I rode by the brand of excellence for the next decade for these reasons. Pluses are the owner Gerald Mayeaux is the greatest and giving font of local information for diners. When he’s ramrod the eatery runs as smoothly as the Pentagon, but when he’s off the place is in disorder. The food is exquisite, with the largest menu in town, and the prices are equitable. Open 24 hours, street vendors don’t bother the customers, and with the grandest Sports Bar in town. Minuses are the tables are nearly on top of each other (serving 400+ clients daily), the kitchen smallish, and orders and bills are constantly mixed as if thrown into a lottery. The staff is friendly, but the air itself on the busiest exhaust corner of Plaza de Armas numbs the palate. Rating – 4 Stars of 5

DAWN ON THE AMAZON is my present preference and for the past year for three reasons: the food, view and air. Located on the boulevard with a spacious view over the river, Bill Grimes, former owner of the boat Dawn on the Amazon has brought its culinary delight ashore. Pluses are gourmet meals, an extensive vegetarian list, health smoothies, cordial English speaking waitresses, and the best view and air of any eatery in the world. The Negative is one common flaw of every town business which is the local Murphy’s Law that if something can go wrong it does. In my last 20 meals 7 have been correct without inconsistencies on the plate or bill discrepancies (half the time in the customer’s favor). Rating – 5 Stars of 5

That’s foodstuff in Iquitos, your jumping off place to the rainforest with the best dining at the top three large restaurants, and since each is a one minute walk from the next, why not try all three and make your own choice… for the next decade, because the charm is sure to bite you.

Iquitos Top Three Restaurants

Guest post by Bo Keeley, whose Wikipedia page reads like an Indiana Jones epic adventure.

Important information for you from Bo Keeley at; Internet Recommendations In Iquitos;

Hi, Bill Grimes here. As always, the views expressed by guest authors are not necessarily the views of Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, or the Captain’s Blog, but if Bo thinks Dawn on the Amazon Cafe is 5 Stars, “with the best view and air of any eatery in the world”, who am I to disagree.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David Volkmann July 11, 2014 at 4:42 pm

IS THIS A JOKE? I am not going to say anything bad about Ari’s Burger but I am not going to say anything good about it either. Its a place to get something to eat but nothing was exceptional nor more reasonable than any other restaurant of the same caliber.

If you are nostalgic about the way it was 50 years ago when the “N” word was common in public day and night than by all means go to the YROT. If you are a true racist and like to see pictures and symbols of those days by all means go to the YROT. If you like to sit in the company of those looking for prostitutes, 12 years old and up, there will be a table for you. And of course you can’t miss the entertainment of watching the owner whipping and poking with pins homeless children who just want to ask you on a public street if you would like to have your shoes shined for $.50 so they can buy some rice to eat.

I am disappointed and furious my friend Bill Grimes allowed this to be printed on his Blog. Its financially supporting indirectly the appeal of civil rights laws all over the world.

No one in there right mind can say anything bad about the “Dawn on the Amazon Cafe” food and service. It doesn’t get any better than this. I hope I don’t get banned from going there after what I said about the owner, Bill Grimes, above. After eating there I don’t want to eat anywhere else.

2 Captain Bill July 12, 2014 at 10:50 am

Hi Dave, Thanks for speaking up. In my own defense, as you already know, controversy is great for blogs. I had hoped my disclaimer at the bottom of the article; “Hi, Bill Grimes here. As always, the views expressed by guest authors are not necessarily the views of Bill Grimes, Dawn on the Amazon Tours and Cruises, or the Captain’s Blog, but if Bo thinks Dawn on the Amazon Cafe is 5 Stars, “with the best view and air of any eatery in the world”, who am I to disagree.” would absolve me from some of the blame. But I am good at taking responsibility for my mistakes, and errors in judgement. I did analyze Bo’s article for a several hours before publishing it. There is good and bad in the article. I should publish my version of the 3 top restaurants in Iquitos.

Thanks again for caring my dear friend Dave

3 Mike collis July 12, 2014 at 5:54 pm

To david Volkmann,
Thank you for speaking your mind.

4 David Volkmann July 12, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Thanks Mike, although it would have been nice if you would have said “your mind and the truth.” I understand. As we get older many us become cowards.

From your best friend in Wisconsin, USA,

5 Mike collis July 13, 2014 at 9:01 am

Thank you for your kind words David,

However, I would like to add, and should of said in my first comment this;

David practically everything you said about the YROT is completely true except for the part where you mention ” Prostitues 12 years on and up”.
I have probably been more closer to that restaurant every day for 10 years than anybody. My old office was opposite and within 50 yards. During that time I never, once saw any evidence of child prostitues as young as 12 years old being utilised there. Of course I have heard rumours, but rumours without evidence I do not accept.

Coward me? probably, Dave but I’m tired now after 8 full years of problems with Gerald, and I have suffered much much more than most.
Also, when Sergio Vargas died not long ago it suddenly occured to me that very soon we will all be gone and what would it have all been for, bravardo?

Gerald is not well, I know he is a bad man but I dont wish him that infermity. Dave, do you remember in 2006 you encouraged me to try and make peace with Gerald. I tried but all Gerald said was ” I’m gonna kick all yas asses”.
Gerald is sick, Gerald is tired too like me, perhaps now is the time to try again and put all of this behind us, while we still have the time.

6 linas July 13, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I do agree that Dawn is one of the best places to eat tasty and clean food. And the owner cares about the customers a lot. Knowing the standart peruvian service quality, I should say service there is one of the best in town.
You can’t tell this about other places that were mentioned in the article above. Ari’s… who goes there for good food?
There are quite a few places to eat out. Like El Sitio with great skewers that you can smell few blocks away grilled by most amazing old chef and Amazon Bistro with coffee and eclairs that transforms you back into human being after spending weeks in the jungle.
Just to mention a few
Though the best thing that I had so far is fresh, peeled pineapple on the stem for 3 soles from Belen market for breakfast on the balcony at Mad Mick’s 🙂

7 David Volkmann July 13, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Very well said Mike.

If someone changes there ways I am the first one to make amends. But I have no time for racist. In one recent photo I seen on the web of the YROT I still see a flag representing pro slavery. Is that still on the wall? I still feel guilty for having a friendship with the YROT for as long as I did. If the YROT was guilty of some non violent crimes I can live with that. But you and I have both seen pain inflicted on the less fortunate. Correct?

I was wrong to say prostitutes as young as 12. I was referring to “JOHNS” looking for children. Maybe pimps selling there children. Is that better?

8 Captain Bill July 13, 2014 at 3:07 pm

My take on this article;

When I first visited Iquitos in 1998 the second meal I ate was at Ari’s and many other meals for the next couple of years. Not because the food was great, but because of the best location in Iquitos on a corner of the Plaza de Armas, and because it is a great place for people watching. Sixteen years later it is still well located, still great for people watching, food is still not great, but is good enough. I like the Super Erectus, and the Acai juice. I believe Ari’s is the best managed, most profitable restaurant business in Iquitos. I like to consult TripAdvisor when I travel. Ari’s ranks #19 of Iquitos restaurants. When I travel, I never deliberately eat at a restaurant that ranks 19th

A couple of year later The Yellow Rose of Texas opened and like many gringos, I made that my hangout for a couple of years, and ate many meals there. There is a lot I could say…On the plus side, YRofT is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 day per year. They work hard. I give Pamela most of the credit for YRofT being a well run business. It is no coincidence that Pamela is Ari’s sister. On TripAdvisor the YRofT ranks #14. When I travel I never intentionally eat at a restaurant ranked 14th.

My wife Marmelita and I own and operate Dawn on the Amazon Cafe, so anything I say here,…dare I say it,… you should take with a grain of salt:) Dawn on the Amazon has a beautiful view over the river in an interesting neighbourhood on the pedestrian only boulevard, so no motocarro noise. People watching is entertaining. I give Marmelita a lot of credit for Dawn on the Amazon Cafe being a well run business. I give our wonderful crew a lot of credit for preparing healthy meals, and providing friendly service in english. Dawn on the Amazon is not fast food. It is home cooking, from scratch, made fresh everyday. Dawn on the Amazon Cafe has ranked #1 on Trip Advisor for a total of 4 years. We have been number 2 for a total of 6 months. Never number 3. When I travel, I always look for the top 5 restaurants on TripAdvisor.

Share your opinion with us. We are interested…

Coming next, I will give my top 3 restaurants in Iquitos Peru. Only one of these will be on my list:) Stay tuned…

Bill Grimes

9 David Bonnett July 13, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Here is my two cents.
I have eaten in many of the restaurants in Iquitos, Arie’s, YROT and Dawn on the Amazon among them. The dining experience in each of these completely different. First, I have only eaten at the YROT three times, each because I was invited to meet someone there so it was not by choice. I frankly did not notice any of the activities mentioned above or pay much attention to the decor. Arie’s I like. It makes my wife Dottie happy because she likes the Ceviche served there, I like the people watching and the White Castle like hamburgeses and grandkids love the place… Then there is Dawn on the Amazon which should not be compared to the above. It is my destination eatery, social center and hangout when I’m in Iquitos. Even if Bill was not there, Marmelita’s menu would be second to none on the upper Amazon. Bill has created an amazing ambiance on the Malacon, one that I hope to enjoy for many years to come.
Thank you Bill for being there.

10 Alfonso Moscoso July 14, 2014 at 3:16 pm

To be honest, of the 3 places Bill mentions my favorite is… Dawn On The Amazon, followed by the YROT. Never tried Ari`s Burger.

Why? Because the food is well served, presented and of high quality. What sets Dawn On The Amazon apart is the quality of its crew, and the view of the Amazon is another plus.

It`s a great venue for socializing, too. I met many of my friends in Iquitos there, including Uncle Mike.

What can I say? Viva Bill and Marmelita !


11 Angelic Current August 13, 2014 at 6:30 pm

I’ll add my 2 cents for what it’s worth. Dawn of the Amazon is my favorite place to eat breakfast, when I can afford it. Bill is a great guy and Gabriella and Lucero are always nice to me and my Shih Tzu. (We eat outside, because of the great view and the no dogs allowed inside rule)
Cafe Noche is another option. When I’m on more of a budget, I tend to have a glass of CamuCamu juice and a cup of coffee for under 10 soles. Again, the owner is loves my Shih Tzu. Anyone that’s nice to my dog is alright by me!
For a budget lunch, I either eat at Ciro’s or Huasi. Both have Ejecutivo menus that contain more food that you can consume at one sitting for about 12 soles.
When I have the money, I dine at Karma Cafe. The owner, Joss, has become a good friend of mine and pays me to play music there on the weekend. I don’t mind giving him a little of that money back for a meal durring the week.
Just ocassionally, I eat at Ari’s. The energy there is toxic to me. They tend to treat Peruvians better than they do Gringos, and I always feel bad while I’m there. That said, I enjoy their juices and Acai smoothies. They have an affordable breakfast menu, which I enjoy if there aren’t a lot of other customers there.
I absolutely do not like YRoT. I appreciate the ability to get some food at 4am ocassionally, but that’s about it. I spent my first 18 years in Texas and then moved to California for 13 years. I LOOK like I’m from California, and this probably explains why the owner sneers at me just for walking past his resteraunt. I don’t like the negativity that bleeds out of his very being. To quote another Expat from Texas. Gerald represents all of the reasons that we left Texas! To be clear, I’ve never had the opportunity to speak with him, but it’s hard to talk to someone who looks down on you just based on your style of dress and hair. Again, I’ve met enough assholes in my life that I can generally see them coming from a mile away and prefer to avoid them.
There are, of course, just my humble observations and opinions.

12 Captain Bill August 14, 2014 at 8:48 am

Thank you for your comment. I appreciate that you took the time to share your opinions with us.

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