If you go strolling in the Barranco district of Lima, Peru, you may be surprised to find an antique train car seemingly stranded near the neighborhood’s central plaza. And if you are a coffee lover, then your surprise may be followed by delight when you detect the aroma of fresh java.
That’s because you have found the Expreso Virgen de Guadalupe, a former passenger carriage repurposed as a cafe. The name has a double meaning, evoking both “express” trains and “espresso” coffee.
Built in England in 1870, the wagon found its way to South America in the early 20th century and carried passengers between Lima and Guadalupe, a city in northern Peru. It was auctioned off by a train company in 2001 and ended up in Barranco, where it was converted into a restaurant. Today, visitors can enjoy coffee and light meals within the carriage and on the patio out back.
Although this car no longer rides the rails, it can transport you back to a golden age of train travel, with its dignified interior of polished pine and rosewood accented by elegant stained-glass windows and fin-de-siècle light fixtures. Slide into a seat, order a cappuccino and a slice of cake, and imagine the train steaming out of Lima and rocking over the Peruvian landscape.
Know Before You Go
In addition to coffee and desserts, the Expreso's menu features light meals and alcoholic beverages (including Peru's famous Pisco Sour). Some nights after 10:00 p.m., there is live music with a cover charge.